I make the drive from Phoenix, AZ to St. George, UT to visit my parents multiple times each year. Most of the time I’m feeling the need for speed and doing the drive after dark.
A few weeks ago when my Zion National Park Canyoneering trip got rained out, I actually had a whole day to make the drive.
Since I had free time, I borrowed my nephews from my sister who lives in Flagstaff. I wanted to make the drive memorable for them so we ended up stopping in a few random spots.
As a child I remember visiting Pine Springs National Monument and at the time thought it was a great adventure.
Fortunately it was as fun as I remember and Brady and Pace loved it.
Pipe Springs is located 15-20 minutes west of Fredonia, AZ a few minutes north of Highway 89.
The fortified ranch house (nicknamed Winsor Castle) was built in the early 1970’s by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) as headquarters for their cattle ranch and protection against the Navajo Indians.
The Fort was built directly over Pipe Spring so that the settlers and cattle ranchers would always have a secure source of water. As the cattle herds grew the Fort became known for its cheese production.
I doubt this is the original cheese vat, but by 1872 the fort was producing one 50-60 pound wheel of cheese each day. Each wheel of cheese took 80-100 gallons of milk to produce. The cheese was then shipped to St. George by wagon.
The trip, which I drove in 60 minutes took four days by wagon.
Brady and Pace really wanted to get inside the cheese vat. They were convinced it was a huge bathtub.
The lighting inside the Fort was less then ideal, so these aren’t the greatest pictures. The rest of the fort was dedicated to entertaining, sleeping, administration and the telegraph office.
The rooms had been recreated to show pioneer life during the late 1800’s. They even had the old Pipe Organ I remembered playing as a child the first time I did the tour. I tried to get a picture, but it turned out horrible.
The tour took approximately 30 minutes and was interesting enough to hold my nephew’s attention which is pretty impressive.
The outside of the Fort was kid heaven.
The loved the two ponds and kept trying to catch the ducks. If you look closely you can see Brady climbing behind the outhouse. For some reason he really wanted to get inside.
The stone building on the left was the old guard house and was built in 1868 by the Mormon Militia. The cabin was open for exploration, but honestly was more picturesque then interesting inside.
There were multiple covered wagons and plenty of broken down pieces of history to keep me occupied as well. The boys were very disappointed when I wouldn’t let them play on the wagons.
There is also a great visitor center that displays a short historical video. We didn’t have time to watch it, but I spent a few minutes looking through the self guided displays. They have done a great job incorporating the local history of the Paiute Indians.
Vising the Pipe Springs National Monument is $5 for anyone 12 years and older.
Is it a destination spot, definitely not, but if you are in the area and have kids who need a break it is a great place to stop and let them run. Personally I thought it was money well spent and know that the boys loved it.
The National Park Website has an interactive virtual tour that goes into more detail if you are interested in visiting.