2014-2016 Travels travel blog

Entrance to Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona

Path leading to Winsor Castle, Pipe Spring NM

Winsor Castle, a fortified ranch house, Pipe Spring NM

Inside the Winsor Castle, Pipe Spring NM

East Cabin, Pipe Spring NM


We checked out of Quail Park Lodge early bound for San Diego at day's end. We wanted to stop and visit Pipe Spring NM along the way. We drove south on Hwy 89 to Fredonia, AZ, then turned west on AZ State Hwy 389 onto the Kaibab Indian Reservation. About 15 miles down 389, we arrived at Pipe Spring NM.

The park brochure says, "Pipe Spring lies on the Arizona Strip,a vast high desert between the Grand Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs of northern Arizona. It is a harsh and seemingly uninhabitable region, but hidden geological forces bring life-sustaining water to a few places. Permeable sandstone aquifers to the north hold water from rain and snowmelt. It slowly percolates down to impermeable layers, then flows south to the base of the Vermilion Cliffs, where it is forced to the surface at places like Pipe Spring."

The homeland of the Paiutes for centuries, Europeans arrived in 1776 from the south. Catholic missionaries were the first. The Mormons arrived in the mid 1800's. In 1863, a Morman rancher named James Whitmore settled at Pipe Spring. Whitmore was killed by Navajo Indians raiding in the Arizona Strip. In 1870, Brigham Young and Anson Winsor laid out the plans for a fortified ranch house that came to be know as the Winsor Castle. Pipe Spring was a tithing ranch, where Mormans would give a tenth of their cows or sheep to the Mormon Church. Pipe Spring was also the first telegraph office in Arizonza.

Warren G. Harding proclaimed Pipe Spring a National Monument on May 31, 1923. We spent about an hour walking through the park and we did the tour of the Winsor Castle. The Park Ranger that guided our tour was a seasonal park employee from Tennessee.

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