Category Archives: Bryce Canyon National Park

Discovery Road – Becoming Bryce

Credit: Discovery Road

In this episode, Discovery Road travels to Bryce Canyon National Park in search of a story about a shipbuilder. Ebeneezer Bryce is the pioneer the park is named after and his story is both historic and fascinating. As a shipbuilder Bryce found himself constructing the Pine Valley Chapel in southern Utah. Discovery Road toured the structure which is now the oldest operating Mormon church in the state of Utah. In this episode, Discovery Road travels to Bryce Canyon National Park in search of a story about a shipbuilder. Ebeneezer Bryce is the pioneer the park is named after and his story is both historic and fascinating. As a shipbuilder, Bryce found himself constructing the Pine Valley Chapel in southern Utah. 

Picture of Marker describing Pine Valley Chapel and wood from the area being used to buold the organ pipes of the organ on Temple Square
Credit: Discovery Road

Discovery Road toured the structure which is now the oldest operating church for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the state of Utah. 

Credit: Discovery Road

Our next story features murals that seem to be making a comeback along the historic corridor. Muralist Patti Lewis has transformed the look and feel of Kanab, Utah with her colorful, western-themed art on stores, shops and gas stations.

Discovery Road then visits Grass Valley Mercantile in Koosharem, Utah. It’s a century-old hardware store that serves as a community gathering place and popular tourist stop. The store has aisles of supplies and adventure for everyone.

Our last stop is at a gas station that no longer pumps gasoline. Ole’s Place is a historic museum that gives tourists a chance to fill up on gas station history.

MPNHA Photo Contest – $25 Prize

We know that you have some amazing photos, and now it’s time to share them! The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area is hosting a photo contest. It’s time to dust off the camera, phone, whichever you use to capture special moments and share some great pictures. You probably have some on your hard drive somewhere too!

To enter, users must upload their images to the MPNHA Facebook Page and submit a form (below) for each image that they enter into the contest.


  • All photos must be be property of the entrant and an original work. If you are submitting for someone else, permission must be obtained before uploading the image.
  • All photos must be taken inside the boundaries of the MPNHA.
  • Photo enhancements are allowed.
  • The entry can be used on the MPNHA’s social media channels, website, etc. and will be credited to the entrant.
  • If people are included in the image, a release is required for entry.
  • All entrants must submit a short entry form in addition to uploading the image onto the MPNHA Facebook page.
  • The final date to enter is July 21, 2017 at midnight, mountain time.
  • The winner of the contest and $25 gift card to a retailer of their choice will be selected by the number of likes on their image. Ask your friends to vote for your image! In the event of a tie, the images with the same number of likes (loves, etc.) will be assigned a random number and then picked at random. The winner will be chosen and contacted on July 31, 2017.
  • There is no age limit to participants (under 13 years of age must have parental permission) or limit to the number of images that are allowed, as long as every image has been submitted into the form below.
  • Voting starts when you upload your image, so enter earlier for your best chance.
  • Those who work for the MPNHA are not eligible to enter/win.
  • Have fun.

Happy 100th Birthday National Park Service

National Park Service
National Park Service

On 25 August 2016 the National Park Service celebrates its 100th year serving the United States, her citizens, and the countless visitors to our great nation!

As a way to help citizens and visitors join in the celebration the National Parks will host free days for park goers.  The beginning of the second century stewardship, the National Park Service, will begin with engaging communities in recreation, teaching conservation, and educating others concerning historic preservation programs.

The National Park Service invites all to find your park to discover the programs in your very own back yard, or venture to the many National Parks outside your backyard.

The state of Utah has five National Parks, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area boasts three of those National Parks:  Zion National ParkBryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park.

Check with the National Park of your choosing to find your park’s free admission day as part of the Centennial Celebration.

Find your park, explore the great outdoors, take park tours to learn all there is to know about these great American historic places!  Go to National Park Service, to plan your visit.

Make sure and check out the National Park Service website to make the most of the centennial celebration!  Find Your Park, find some fun, find quality time to spend with your family, neighbors, friends, and spare an adventure during the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service as a way to connect with other.

Railroad Resorts Bring Sevier County’s Railroad Past to Life


The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad is being resurrected in an unusual way in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area. Partners David Grow and George Jones of Environetics have built a caboose and railroad village at Big Rock Candy Mountain, north of Marysvale in Piute County. In February they received a 50-year lease of the old Denver and Rio Grande Depot from the city of Mt. Pleasant to build a similar resort there.

Jones, a retired railroad union executive with an interest in historic railroading, began collecting cabooses several years ago. About six years ago he approached Grow with the idea of turning them into a unique resort.

After several years of planning, last year the pair opened the Track 89 Caboose Village Resort at Big Rock Candy Mountain with three railroad cars. This year they have seven and next year they hope to have 10. The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area recently awarded the project a $25,000 grant for landscaping and parking.

Grow said it is unlikely the Mt. Pleasant facility will be open this season since major work needs to be done to prepare the site and move the railroad cars into place. He is very excited about the location, however.

“We’ve always loved that old depot and looked into moving it further down Highway 89 but found it was too expensive,” Grow said.

In 1977 the building was rescued from demolition by a group of local citizens who wanted to preserve it and had it moved to its present location from 500 West and Main.

The new location is ideal, Grow said. “It has great visibility, right on Highway 89. We will make sure that no lodging will block the beautiful view of the terrific old depot.” Grow said the Mt Pleasant site could eventually have as many as 15 rail cars.

He said they plan to incorporate several historic elements into the resort, but they have not yet determined if that will be in the setting of a small museum or as enhancements to the railroad cars themselves.

While some have suggested that the pair open a similar resort in Thistle in Utah County, Grow said that the Utah County planning department is not open to the idea.

“It would be like trying to push a river upstream,” he said.

MPNHA Director Monte Bona sees these two resorts as a first step to bringing about a railroad museum and interpretive center in the area, one of the goals of the MPNHA’s management plan.

“The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area reached the high threshold for national designation by articulating the thesis that Mormon colonization played a major role in the development of the West. The coming of the railroad era had a signifi cant impact that needs to be interpreted, displayed and conveyed as a crucial part of the Mormon country story,” he said.

The railroad first came to the Sevier Valley in 1893 when the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad expanded its line from Chester to Manti , connecting it with its Valley Line at Thistle Junction via Mt. Pleasant and from Manti to Marysvale.

At its peak, the line ferried passengers to Richfield where tour companies would meet the train at Marysvale and take tourists to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. For several decades it spurred economic growth in the area, especially in the livestock trade.

However, as automobiles grew in popularity, the railroad began to wane. In 1949, D&RGW dropped passenger service in the area. From then until the Thistle mudslide of 1982 shut down the line completely, the line primarily carried freight. Aft er the mudslide the D&RGW determined it would not be cost-effective to restore the line, which had been operating at a loss for decades.

Now, with the Environetics projects, railroad buff s and families will have a unique opportunity to experience a taste of the rich railroading history of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area.

For more information, contact or MPNHA Director Monte Bona at 801-699-5065 or David Grow at 801-375-9090.


The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area includes 400 miles of glorious scenic byways, a vast array of wildlife, the best of western living, cattle and sheep ranches, and colorful mountain vistas, all within a trip on Utah Heritage Highway 89

Memorial Day Honoring Family and Traditions

mt. Pleasant Cemetery graves

Memorial Day has always been a family tradition.  No matter where we moved,  we always went to the family cemetery to honor our family.  Decorating the graves was a responsibility my father would say “someday you will take on this responsibility and teach it to your children.”

Well, here we are as grandparents taking our wonderful grandchildren to the graves of family members to honor them.  What I saw this year was a wonderful example of the past and the present.  Grandchildren reverently placing flowers on the graves of family members that are six and seven generations past.

This year there was more joy as we spent the day together talking to the children, telling them stories.  We focused on the living and the funny family stories of the past.  We still missed those who have preceded us, but it was a sweet remembering this year.  What does bring tears to my eyes is the respect, reverence, and the United States flags flying high to honor our fallen military men and women.

Cadets, alumni and volunteers from St. Thomas Academy worked with Fort Snelling National Cemetery staff to put up hundreds of American flags ahead of the Memorial Day weekend,  on Wednesday,  May 21,  2014 . (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)
Cadets, alumni and volunteers from St. Thomas Academy worked with Fort Snelling National Cemetery staff to put up hundreds of American flags ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 . (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

There is truly something amazing beyond description that seeing lanes lined with the United States flying.  I am proud to be an American, I am proud that my father was a WWII Veteran.  I am proud that my husband was a Viet Nam Veteran.  I am proud of all those who have offered their lives for the freedom our country represents.  I am proud of those who continue to fight for our freedom, and pray that someday they will all come home.  I pray that we will be able to continue to represent a land of opportunity, one where we all live in peace and in times of peril, there will continue to be brave men and women who feel as deeply as those of past days and take their ranks in the military.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America; and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Mt Pleasant flags

I am so grateful that the cemeteries in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, no matter how small that they might be, flew the United States of American Flag proudly for those who gave their lives for all that this great nation!


Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country (American Legends) By Monte Bona


legends lore and true tales in mormon country














Monte Bona, along with the collaborative efforts of talented professionals have given us an authentic view of those brave men, women and children who left their homes, family, wealth, and country to establish the communities in South Central Utah.

The powerful stories of the early settlers in the region that is now identified by the Congressional designation as the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, are touching, informative, and compelling

These pioneers certainly left a legacy that illustrates a structure that was steeped in  codes of conduct, traditions, and  principles that everyone embraced for the sole purpose of succeeding in a somewhat hostile environment.  Their stories come to life as you read of their inventiveness, cooperation,  conscientiousness, and pure resilience.     You will also be moved stories of with miracles that occurred..

Many may be interested to learn that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons were not the only secular group that assisted with the settling  of Utah.   Jewish settlements, and contributions of a Presbyterian Minister, were instrumental.   There were great sacrifices, large doses of humility, and traditional morals that were all combined to make their efforts a true success.

I have a great appreciation for the time intensive work completed by Monte Bona that has gone into producing Legends, Lore and True Tales in Mormon Country (American Legends).  It is commendable that such an undertaking has been made to tell their stories. What a great job he has done!

The pictures are an added bonus, they help to recreate the trials, tribulations and the triumphs of  the early pioneers.  Mr. Bona has done a tremendous job in compiling this must have book for those who seek to find their family history, and a great resource for future generations.  Without a doubt this is a book that you will read, reread, share, and  retell the stories, legends, lore and true tales to everyone.  I highly recommend this book to all who seek the true tales in Mormon Country.


Bryce Canyon National Park, The Wonder of the “Hoodoos”

Bryce Canyon is another great National Park that has beauty beyond description, come experience the wonder during National Park Week.

Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and
Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and

Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon pioneer assisted in the settlement of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona.  He came to the area in 1875 to harvest timber and live.  He settled behind what is now Bryce Canyon National Park, located in the southwestern part of the state of Utah.  His neighbors would call the canyon behind his home “Bryce’s Canyon.”  In 1928 it was given the designation of a state park. Bryce Canyon National Park is a small park, 56 square miles, by the standards of the National Parks.Bryce Canyon in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area

What is famous about Bryce Canyon?

Bryce Canyon, with its acclaimed geology, countless colors of varying hues, and amphitheaters shaped as horseshoes, cut out the eastern edge of  the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah.    With the power of nature the rainwater and the frost moisture dissolved to shape and affect the color of the limestone to create various shapes of “hoodoos,” slot canyons, windows, spires, and fins.  The miraculous natural tinting of the stones and a power that is unexplanable, has colored and arranged capriciously the rocks to have created a wonderland landscape of mazes.  Those that have taken a walk along this wonderland have experienced a memorable and exciting memory.

Bryce Canyon National Park Photo Courtesy of Kreig Rasmussen Photograpy
Bryce Canyon National Park Photo Courtesy of Kreig Rasmussen Photograpy

With the meadows located in the high elevations of the plateau, the foliage is abundant  and the wildlife flourishes.  The plateau has also been deemed as one of the world’s best air quality.  The rim affords a panoramic view of approximately 200 miles in a three state radius.  It is also known as one of the best stargazing locations due to a very small light sources.

Bryce Canyon Forest Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and
Bryce Canyon Forest Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and

The marvel of the “hoodoos” were described by the Paiutes as the “Legend People” that were turned to stone by Coyote.  The geological term for “hoodoo” is a pillar of rock, usually fantastic shape, left by erosion.  It is also known that “hoodoo” means to cast a spell.

Fairyland Point Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and
Fairyland Point Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and

Within the Bryce Canyon National Park, erosion has been created with the fun, whimsical  “hoodoos.”  Geologists have an answer, they state that millions of years ago whatever forces were present on Mother Earth, moved these cute enormous objects that were named Aquarius and Paunsaugunt Plateaus.  Today, the rock layers of the Aquarius now reach 2,000 feet above the Paunsaugunt’s same layers.

Aquarius Plateau in Bryce Canyon National Park Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service
Aquarius Plateau in Bryce Canyon National Park Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service

The ancient rivers’ flow took to carving out the tops and formed the edges of the large rocks.  Layers were removed and this brought about the chiseling and sculpted forms.  This brought about the creation of the Paria Valley and then later caused the widening of the plateaus.

Thor's Hammer Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and
Thor’s Hammer Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and

No matter what the cause, these wondrous shapes have certainly cast their spell for all that have ever visited, and those that wish to visit.

Hiking trail to Mossy Cave Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and
Hiking trail to Mossy Cave Photo Courtesy of Pam Burt and

Come experience the beauty and wonder of this magnificent landscape that only exists in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Share your favorite story and photos, upload your photos on your social media #findyourpark #findyourstory.

National Park Week

Bryce Canyon in the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage AreaApril 18, 2015 is the kick off of National Park Week.  The National Park Service announces that it has again partnered with the National Park Foundation for National Park Week.  This Presidentally acclaimed celebration of the United States’ national heritage offers free admission to all National Parks on opening weekend, the 18th and 19th of April, 2015.

In the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area there are three National Parks; Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Zion’s National Park.  The National Park Service in conjunction with the state of Utah, and the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area invite you to visit one of these spectacular sites.

Kreig Rasmussen Photography
Kreig Rasmussen Photography

Your amazing first view of Bryce Canyon National Park offers the wonder of the numerous rows of the majestic pine trees that will obscure the vibrant colors and the splendor of  the canyon.  Once visitors reach the rim, a magnificent array of colors spring forth, giving a spectacular view particularly during daybreak and sunset.  Take a 37 mile round trip to the top 15 most visited viewpoints of Bryce Canyon.

Photo Courtesy of National Park Service
Photo Courtesy of National Park Service

Capitol Reef National Park, in the Boulder Loop District of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area is all that one would expect from a National Park.  The magnificent scenery of the sandstone spires and monoliths, the twisting, winding canyons, and the enormous domes have been fascinating visitors since its designation as a national park in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Photo Courtesy of National Park Service
Photo Courtesy of National Park Service

Utah’s first designated National Park  was Zion National Park.  Here you will discover incredible views, renowned hiking trails such as Angels Landing, The Narrows, and Subway, will give countless experiences.  The park itself has a sense of reverence which many visitors recognize much like the Native Americans who regarded Zion as sacred.

Visit one of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area Parks and remember to share your experience, favorite story and photos on your social media with #findyourpark #findyourstory.


New Loan Program Opens Doors for New B&B, Other Projects in Rural Utah

DATE 10/28/2005 11:38 AM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

New Loan Program Opens Doors for New B&B, Other Projects in Rural Utah

The opening of the Slot Canyons Inn, a new bed and breakfast in Escalante, was a significant event on many fronts. Not only did it fulfill a life-long dream for owners Jeff and Joette Marie Rex, it’s also another indicator that Utah’s small towns are increasingly becoming tourist destinations. In addition, the new inn is an example of how a new, unique loan program is helping rural areas.

The Slot Canyons Inn was supported by the new “One-Doc” program, a simplified loan guarantee program designed to assist lenders making business and commercial loans in rural areas. It’s is financed through a combination of U.S. Department of Agriculture Funding, Utah Business Lending and the Five County Association of Government’s Revolving Loan Fund.

“This is an unusual pairing of three lenders on the front end of a project,” says Gordon Holt, president of the Utah Business Lending Corporation. The One-Doc program reduces some of the risk to make a rural loan because the USDA can guarantee loans up to 90 percent.

“It allow lenders to make more rural loans because the guarantees do not count against the lender’s lending limit,” Holt says. The loans are for construction of business buildings, business acquisitions, purchase of machinery and equipment, remodeling projects and working capital.

The Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance and Utah State Extension Service are working closely with Holt’s organization to identify businesses in Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Wayne, Garfield and Kane Counties that might benefit from the program.

“In particular, this program will help Sen. Robert Bennett in his efforts to assist businesses along U.S. Highway 89 through the creation of a national Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area,” says Monte Bona, a member of the highway alliance. The designation would mean that the six counties involved would receive funds for projects designed to retain and enhance the area’s natural beauty and promote heritage tourism. Heritage tourism is known as one of the fastest-growing segment in the tourism industry in America.

The Slots Inn is a perfect example. The new bed and breakfast incorporates the area’s history, heritage and natural beauty. The Inn is surrounded by Monument, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands. It’s 40 miles from Bryce Canyon, the Dixie National Forest is adjacent to the property, and the Aquarius Plateau, the highest plateau in North America, is located 17 miles above. Three major canyons, the Escalante River and North Creek also come together at the site. “We have wanted to develop this 160-acre parcel of land since we purchased it several years ago,” says owner Jeff Rex.

“We believe this spot is unique to Southern Utah and have chosen to build an eight-room Pueblo-style inn to fit with the significance of the site,” he says. A 110-year-old pioneer cabin built by Isaac Riddle and rebuilt in 1999 will also become part of the guest accommodations.

For more information about the loan program, contact Gordon Holt at Utah Business Lending, (801) 654-2213.

# # #

For more information Contact:

Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502

Skip to content

On this website we use first or third-party tools that store small files (cookie) on your device. Cookies are normally used to allow the site to run properly (technical cookies), to generate navigation usage reports (statistics cookies) and to suitable advertise our services/products (profiling cookies). We can directly use technical cookies, but you have the right to choose whether or not to enable statistical and profiling cookies. Enabling these cookies, you help us to offer you a better experience.