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Pipe Spring National Monument, AZ

Acting on a tip from a blog reader, we drove over to Pipe Spring National Monument in nearby Fredonia AZ.   It’s only about 25 miles from Kanab, but with all the BIG national monuments and parks around, we might easily have overlooked it.

pipe-spring-nm-kitchen.jpgThe site is located in the middle of a small reservation belonging to the Kaibab band of the southern Paiutes.   It jointly celebrates the life of early Mormon settlers and the native Americans who lived on this land for untold years before.   The outside displays include structures built by the Mormons, and inside the museum are interpretive displays about the Paiutes and their gentle, earth-friendly philosphy.

The Paiutes believed that “all things are placed on this land with the breath of life, just as humans,” in the words of a tribal elder.   “This land is considered to be their home, just as it is for man, and it is taught that one must consider that rocks, trees, animals, mountains, and all other things are on the same level as man.   Each has a purpose in life, and the one who created every living thing on this earth placed all living things here to interact with one another … It is said that the plants, animals, and in fact, everything on this land, understands the Paiute language, and when one listens closely and intently enough, there is affirmation and a sense of understanding.”

pipe-spring-nm-blacksmith.jpgThe philosophy of the European settlers was quite different.   They set out to tame the land, populate it with large families, and convert the natives from “aimless wanderers” to farmers.   They were not successful with the natives, who were already struggling with loss of traditional lands and encroachment, and wanted to retain their heritage.   But the Mormons did successfully set up a “tithing ranch” which used a barter system for mutual benefit of their community, and the remains of this ranch are the centerpiece of Pipe Springs National Monument.

pipe-spring-nm-vegetables.jpgBeing a small park with a lot of dedicated staff and volunteers, the interpretation was excellent.   Three of them spent quite a lot of time with us, answering questions and giving demonstrations. One ranger gave me a ton of tips on vegetable gardening in the southwest desert, which will be useful for Tucson once we settle in there.   The park maintains orchards and vegetable gardens full of heirloom plants, and they share the produce freely with anyone who visits.   I collected a package of beans and other seeds — we’d like to try growing some of the traditional crops in our garden too.

I’ve discovered that Kanab, UT (our present location) is an excellent base of operations to visit the national parks.   Bryce Canyon NP is about 85 miles north, Zion NP is 60 miles west, and Grand Canyon’s north rim is about 75 miles south.   Pipe Spring NM is 25 miles southeast, too.   We’re sitting just a few miles north of the Arizona border (Karen) with all the conveniences of a small town, with wifi everywhere, inexpensive full-hookup camping, and nice views of the red rock mesas.

They call Kanab “Utah’s little Hollywood” because of all the westerns that have been shot here.   Downtown there are plaques commemorating the movie stars who came here and in some cases lived here part-time.   There’s not much settlement around Kanab, so there’s plenty of scenery to be had, and Kanab is happy to supply the rest.   It makes a decent spot to hang out for a while between adventures, or a good spot to come back to after a day of ATV riding or hiking out in the country.

Grand Canyon’s north rim is less visited than the south, but there are also fewer camping choices near the rim, so you still need reservations. Our reservation is for Thursday, which means we’ll be parked in Kanab for a while.   We are considering a day trip into Zion beforehand, but really, I should keep at the computer most of the time we are here.   Most likely we’ll just stay and enjoy the fine late-summer weather (80s and sunshine every day).

One Response to “Pipe Spring National Monument, AZ”

  1. John Fuller Says:

    Hope you find the time to visit “Best Friends” Animal Sanctuary while in Kanab.A very unique and inspiring place.