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What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Nebraska and Iowa

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers several places to visit in Nebraska and Iowa. At these sites, you can gain a greater appreciation for the Mormon pioneers’ trek west. You can also learn about the Mormon Battalion, which began in this area, and about the reorganization of the First Presidency in 1847. Two of the sites—the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters and the Kanesville Tabernacle—include guided tours.

These sites are open all year and are accessible to visitors with disabilities. The Mormon Trail Center and the Kanesville Tabernacle are separated by about a 20-minute drive.

Core Experience

1.  Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters (Nebraska)  

At the Mormon Trail Center, interactive exhibits, artwork, reconstructed settings, and artifacts tell the story of the Mormon pioneers’ westward migration to the Salt Lake Valley. Missionaries are available for guided tours or to answer your questions as you take a self-guided tour. Plan to spend 45 minutes to 1½ hours exploring the center. For the center’s location and schedule, click or tap here

2.  Mormon Pioneer Cemetery (Nebraska)

Adjacent to the Mormon Trail Center is the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery. The Saints who lived at Winter Quarters from 1846 to 1848 buried many loved ones there. You can walk the grounds, admire the commemorative sculptures created in the 1930s by Mormon sculptor Avard Fairbanks, and contemplate the sacrifices of those who died there.

3.  Kanesville Tabernacle (Iowa) 

Your visit to the Kanesville Tabernacle begins at the visitors’ center. There you will learn about the many settlements that Latter-day Saints established in the area. You can also see exhibits and watch a film about the journey and contributions of the Mormon Battalion, a group of volunteer soldiers who began their march from this area. After exploring the visitors’ center, you can take a guided tour of the reconstructed tabernacle, where you will learn about the reorganization of the First Presidency in 1847. Plan to spend about 30 minutes to 1 hour visiting this site. For the site’s location and schedule, click or tap here.

 

Other Options

1.  Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple

The Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple is within walking distance of both the Mormon Trail Center and the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery. The temple grounds are open to the public year-round. For more information about visiting the temple, click or tap here.

 

2.  Grand Encampment and Mormon Battalion Mustering Grounds (Iowa)

In Council Bluffs, Iowa, two historical markers are located along a walking path on the grounds of the Iowa School for the Deaf. The first marker commemorates the Grand Encampment of the Mormon pioneers, a place where the Saints stopped in the summer of 1846 before deciding to settle temporarily in the area. The second marker identifies the general area from which the Mormon Battalion began its march west with the United States Army in July 1846. Plan to spend about 30 minutes walking the path to see both markers. The site is a few minutes’ drive from the Kanesville Tabernacle. For a map, click or tap here.

3.  Mount Pisgah (Iowa)  

About 2 hours southeast of the Mormon Trail Center is a monument honoring the Saints who died at Mount Pisgah, a temporary settlement along the trail. Latter-day Saints lived there from 1846 to 1852. The monument was constructed in 1888 and is the oldest commemorative marker built by Latter-day Saints. For a map to the site, click or tap here.

4.  Garden Grove (Iowa)

Garden Grove, Iowa, is about a 3-hour drive southeast of the Mormon Trail Center. In this area, Mormon pioneers established the first of many settlements along the trail west. Several markers identify the original settlement and the cemetery, where many Latter-day Saint pioneers are buried. The site is approximately 0.8 miles from present-day Garden Grove, Iowa. For a map to the site, click or tap here.