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The Honeymoon Trail Part 1

Posted in Events on February 15, 2011
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Saturday, May 6, 1882
Ida Frances Hunt stepped out of her father’s home and tossed her bags into the wagon of her future husband, David King Udall. They would travel from Snowflake, Arizona, to the temple in St. George, Utah, where they would be joined as husband and wife. The one-way trip would take slightly less than three weeks. The route they used between Lees Ferry and St. George was well established and frequently used. It was eventually named the Honeymoon Trail by other writers and carries that historic designation today.

A historic marker at Lees Ferry displays this photo of a covered wagon using the ferry.

The town of Snowflake was settled in 1876. It was part of Brigham Young’s efforts to expand the Mormon presence throughout the geographical area he called Deseret. (See Temple Trail in the April 2011 issue). In 1875, he sent 15 men to establish the first settlement and followed that the next year with 200 additional church members. The settlements were built in desolate locations where nothing had been built before. Sunset, Joseph City, Show Low, Taylor, and Snowflake were among the first.

The Temple in St. George was completed in 1877. At that time, it was the only temple west of the Mississippi River. According to Mormon belief, any marriage performed in a temple joined the souls for eternity. Settlers in outlying areas traveled long distances for that ceremony. Most of them made the journey in farm wagons and camped outdoors.

Along the way to Lees Ferry, Ida mentions passing through Woodruff, St. Joseph, Sunset, and other settlements. They reached Lees Ferry on Monday, May 16. The wagon was disassembled so it could safely ride the ferry. On the west bank, they met other families going in the same direction, which added three more wagons to the convoy. From that point on they felt safety in numbers. Their biggest concern along the trail was the fear of attacks from outlaws and renegades. Fortunately, they did not endure either.

These buildings were used by those who operated Lees Ferry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lone Writer, Happy Jack, and Muley pulled into the Lees Ferry parking lot. The route between Snowflake and Lees Ferry crosses reservation lands and is best done on paved highways. For that reason, no effort was made to follow it.

Prior to 1872, the only way across the Colorado River in Arizona was to swim. Doing so in those swirling currents often ended in death. In those days, there were no dams to control the flow of the river. The most dangerous time of year was during springtime runoff from mountain ranges in Colorado and Utah.

Brigham Young was determined to settle the area. He realized the problem of crossing the river had to be resolved. He sent John D. Lee to build a ferry in 1870. Two years later, it was fully functional. Even though Lee only remained on site for two more years, it still retains his name. We are not sure which spelling for the ferry is correct. We find it often named Lee’s Ferry and other times as Lees Ferry. Even the historic signs at the site list it both ways. We chose to use the spelling without the apostrophe.

The Glen Canyon Dam controls water flow in the Colorado River at Lees Ferry. In the days of the pioneers, water level was controlled by weather.

Lees Ferry is at the northern end of the Grand Canyon National Park. A permit is required to enter and another fee is charged to use the campground. A well-worn hiking trail connects the parking lot to the original ferry crossing. Hikers might like to spend several days in the area exploring the river and canyons.

Following the Honeymoon Trail was the result of Happy Jack spending many long hours and days researching the subject. Using various references, he plotted the trail from Snowflake to St. George on his DeLorme TopoUSA software in a laptop. One of those references was the travel log from Ida’s journey to be married. On this trip, we loaded the tracks Happy Jack plotted into our laptops, connected a GPS, and brought the trail to life.

Thursday, May 18, 1882

Ida arrived at Jacob’s Pool about midday. That natural spring was commonly used by travelers to fill water barrels and prepare for the arid stretch of trail to come. The convoy of four wagons had spent the last day and a half running along the base of the Vermilion Cliffs. They were averaging about ten miles a day.

The remains of a homestead at Jacob’s Pool include a building and corral. This was one of the few places in the arid land where water could be obtained.

In her trip log, Ida noted the temperatures being extremely hot and having trouble with a team of horses on another wagon. Teams used by such pioneers were often farm animals that had never been on any trip away from the farm where they were born. Their daily activities normally consisted of nothing more than working in the fields. If given the opportunity they might break away and head for home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Jack led the way to Jacob’s Pool using his laptop maps and GPS. He turned off the highway and opened a gate for a two-track trail leading to the remains of an abandoned homestead. The pool was dry and the building was in bad condition. Some of the fences and gates were still standing.

The Vermilion Cliffs tower high above the Honeymoon Trail. The lands at the top of the cliffs are within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

After Jacob’s Pool, they followed the highway to House Rock Road. A short distance later, they were following historic markers for Honeymoon Trail. For a few miles, House Rock Road followed the floor of a valley between Paria Plateau and Kaibab National Forest. It then left the valley and climbed a high plateau covered in a dense forest. The long climb into the forest offered beautiful panoramic views of the valley and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The trail meandered along within the forest on a westerly course. Markers for the Honeymoon Trail helped in selecting the right path when intersections were encountered. Although this route has long since lost its value for cross-country travel, it dates back to long before Arizona was part of the United States. It was the primary route used to cross the lands north of the Grand Canyon referred to as the Arizona Strip. Besides being used by natives and the settlers in Arizona, it was also used in 1879 by pioneers in reaching the four corners area of Utah. Prior to the building of the Hole in the Rock Road, it was one of two routes used to reach homesteads east of the Colorado River in Utah.

Happy Jack found a nice campsite along the way. We were a few miles east of Navajo Springs. That would have been close to the same place Ida camped on Friday, May 19, 1882. In her diary, she noted they were about four miles from that spring. We could not help but wonder how much the forest had changed in the past 128 years.

Saturday, May 20, 1882

Ida arrived in Kanab, Utah, after spending two weeks on the road from her home in Snowflake. This was the first major town they had seen. Members of the convoy had friends and relatives living in Kanab so the next day was spent resting and visiting.

Thursday, September 15, 2010

Lone Writer, Happy Jack, and Muley pulled into Kanab and visited a campground for showers. They spent some time looking at maps at the BLM office, stopped for dinner, and then split up. They would meet again in a couple days to finish the Honeymoon Trail to St. George. Join us next month for part two of the Honeymoon Trail.

The tires on Lone Writer’s vehicle are provided by BFGoodrich. GPS mapping is provided by DeLorme. For more information visit

PhotosView Slideshow

Lees Ferry is accessed by a side road off Highway 89A at the point where it crosses the Colorado River. Continue west about 17 miles to mile post 557. Before mile post 558, turn right onto the dirt trail and open the gate to reach Jacob’s Pool.
Trip Meter Latitude position North Longitude position West Landmarks, Intersections, and other locations
0 36 41.6737 111 54.0795 After mile post 557, turn right on dirt trail and through gate.
1.9 36 43.2869 111 54.2262 Jacob’s pool. Return to highway 89A.
After leaving Jacob’s Pool, continue west on Highway 89A. After mile post 565, turn right on House Rock Road (BLM 1065) using the point below.
Trip Meter Latitude position North Longitude position West Landmarks, Intersections, and other locations
0.0 36 43.8772112 2.7163 Turn right on BLM 1065. This is House Rock Road.
2.7 36 46.2647 112 3.3490 This rest area is the point where the Honeymoon Trail connects to House Rock Road. There is a marker behind the outhouse. There is also an information board about a bird called the California Condor.
9.0 36 51.7054 112 3.7394 Take the left fork at the old corral.
14.5 36 56.4045 112 3.3595 Turn left on Winter Road. This is still BLM 1025.
18.2 0.0 36 55.0575 112 6.4067 Just past the board for the Arizona Trail, turn right on the Arizona Road. It is not marked but it leaves BLM 1025. Reset your trip meter. Turn left at the next intersection following the Honeymoon Trail marker.
0.6 36 55.1558 112 7.0337 Take the left fork. There is a marker here, but it is faded out.
1.0 36 55.1314 112 7.4842 Take the right fork. Markers are faded out. Next intersection is also a left.
2.5 36 55.8216 112 8.8048 Turn right on BLM Route 1024. Follow markers and arrows for 1024.
7.8 36 58.2107 112 10.9064 Leave Route 1024 and turn left at the Honeymoon Trail sign.
9.7 36 59.4517 112 12.2455 Cross under power line.
10.6 0.0 37 0.1350 112 12.7810 This is the Utah/Arizona state line. Reset your trip meter at the state line marker.
1.1 37 0.1874 112 13.7949 Turn right and cross the cattleguard.
2.6 37 1.4005 112 14.1792 Turn left.
3.4 37 1.9311 112 14.7828 Turn left on Route 83.
4.2 37 2.0451 112 15.5569 Turn right and connect to Highway 89.
4.6 37 2.4102 112 15.4236 This is Highway 89. Turn left to travel to Kanab, Utah.

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