View the Arizona Strip
Pipe Springs is a historic Mormon settlement, located now on the Kaibab Band of Paiutes Reservation. In the 1860's, Mormon ranchers moving up from the area of St. George settled near the constantly-flowing springs at Pipe Springs. This was not well received by the local Paiutes, as they had been living in the area for hundreds of years, proceeded by the Anasazi before them. This created tension between the Paiutes and Mormons, and by 1872 the Mormons had erected a fort, Windsor Castle, to protect the spring. An important stop along the "Honeymoon Trail" for folks in the Arizona colonies traveling to get married at the St. George temple, the Arizona Strip and Pipe Springs also became refuges for polygamists fleeing federal prosecutors and Mormon authorities after the church outlawed polygamy in order for Utah to become a state. Just up the road on AZ389 is living evidence of that polygamist diaspora, Colorado City.
The Ridge Trail starts, like all the trails at Pipe Springs National Monument, at the Visitor Center. Take a minute to go through the small but excellent museum, and then head out the back door. The trail heads towards Windsor Castle, past a few historic displays, and at the Castle, branches. The trail loops up one side of the Vermilion Cliffs, crosses the ridge, and back down the other side. Go to the right, and follow the well-maintained trail up the backside of the Vermilion Cliffs. There are several interpretive signs along the trail. After you pass the old quarry that the Mormons used to mine stone for the fort, watch for signs of a Basketmaker pithouse village. As you near the top of the ridge, you pass through an unexcavated Great Kiva. Pause at the ridge and admire the view of the Kaibab Plateau, Kanab Creek, the Arizona Strip, Mt. Trumbull and Mt. Delenbaugh, Yellowstone Mesa, and the Vermilion Cliffs. Then head down the switchbacks to the base of the cliff. If you have time, a stop in Windsor Castle and see what pioneer life on The Strip was like. Unfortunately, due to increasing water demands, the old Pipe Springs no longer flow. Water is now piped in to the old holding basins from another nearby spring. Water is available at the Visitor Center.
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