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What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Southern Utah


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers several places to visit in southern Utah. As you experience these places, you can gain a deeper understanding of the efforts to establish Zion in the nineteenth century. You can learn about the dedication of early Saints as they lived and shared the gospel. You can also see the centrality of temple ordinances and covenants in their community, families, and personal lives.

As shown below, the Church’s four main sites in southern Utah are the St. George Utah Temple Visitors’ Center, the St. George Tabernacle, the Brigham Young Winter Home, and the Jacob Hamblin Home. These sites are within about 7 miles (11 kilometers) of each other and are open all year.

The region includes other sites that are connected with Church history. They are also described briefly below.

To enrich your experience before and after you go to the sites, visit the Church’s official website for historic sites in Utah.

Core Experience

1. St. George Utah Temple Visitors’ Center

In the 1850s and 1860s, many Latter-day Saints responded to calls from President Brigham Young to settle the area about 300 miles (480 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City. In 1871, President Young announced that a temple would be built there, in St. George. Completed in 1877, the St. George Utah Temple became the first temple to be completed since the Saints moved west and the first to have endowments for the dead performed.

Today the temple grounds include two buildings that are hosted by missionaries. In one you will learn about the early Saints’ efforts to build the temple. In the other you will learn about faith in Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the gospel, and the importance of families in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. If you visit both buildings, plan to spend between 30 minutes and 1½ hours.

These buildings are accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. For the center’s location and schedule, click or tap here.

2. St. George Tabernacle

The St. George Tabernacle has been a place of worship and community gathering since 1869—before the building was even completed in 1871. It has been home to historic meetings. For example, on May 25, 1879, a Roman Catholic priest living in the area conducted high mass in the tabernacle, with choir members from the St. George Stake providing the music. On May 18, 1899, President Lorenzo Snow stood at the pulpit in the tabernacle and gave his first of many exhortations that the Saints must pay a full tithe.

Today the building is used for religious and community gatherings and missionary-guided tours. Only the first floor is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. For the location and schedule, click or tap here.

3. Brigham Young Winter Home

President Young spent each winter in St. George from 1870 until his death in August 1877. The location was ideal for him. The warm weather was good for his health, and it allowed him to interact with the Saints in southern Utah. In 1872, he purchased the home that is now known as the Brigham Young Winter Home. From this place, he oversaw the construction of the temple and prepared for the sacred work that would be done there.

Missionaries guide your tour of this home. Only the first floor is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs, and visitors still must ascend a few outside stairs first. For the location and schedule, click or tap here.

4. Jacob Hamblin Home

Jacob Hamblin moved to southern Utah in 1854, obeying a call to serve as a missionary to American Indians in the area. His home, with the help of his family, functioned as the headquarters for the Southern Utah Indian Mission during the 1860s.

The Jacob Hamblin Home in Santa Clara, Utah, is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) west of St. George. Missionaries will guide your tour of the home. Only the first floor is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. For the location and schedule, click or tap here.


Other Options in Southern Utah

1. Temple Quarry Trail

About 2 miles from the St. George Utah Temple, you can hike around a quarry where early Saints found stones to build the temple. They hauled volcanic rock from this site for the temple’s foundation.

The quarry trail, managed by Sons of Utah Pioneers, is on land owned by Washington County. It is 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) round-trip. Most of the trail is flat, but it begins and ends with a steep path and several stairs. If you hike the entire trail, plan to spend about 1½ hours. For a map to the trailhead, click or tap here.

2. St. George Sandstone Quarry and Trail

At another quarry, early Saints extracted red sandstone, which they used for the exterior walls of the temple and other buildings. They covered the temple walls with white stucco.

The trail to this site, managed by Sons of Utah Pioneers, is on land owned by Washington County. It is less than a mile long, but it includes more climbing than the other quarry trail. Interpretive markers along the path tell about the process of cutting stone from the hill. The trail begins in a residential area and borders a golf course. Plan to spend an hour or less on the trail. For a map to the approximate location of the trailhead, click or tap here.

3. Historic Pine Valley Chapel

Pine Valley is about 34 miles (55 kilometers) north of St. George. Latter-day Saints settled there in the 1850s because of the good timber in the surrounding mountains. They hauled lumber from the valley to construct the St. George Tabernacle and other buildings in St. George. They built their own chapel in 1868. Members of the Church in Pine Valley still meet there every Sunday. Tours are offered daily in the summer. Inquire locally for hours.

The chapel, the rooms above it, and the attic are not accessible to visitors in wheelchairs; only the lower floor is accessible. For a map to the chapel, click or tap here.

4. Mountain Meadows Massacre National Historic Landmark

About 32 miles (52 kilometers) north of St. George is the site of a horrific episode in Church history. On September 7, 1857, at a desert oasis called Mountain Meadows, local Mormon militiamen, along with some Paiute Indians they recruited, attacked a group of families and individuals traveling from Arkansas to California. This attack was the beginning of a five-day siege. The siege ended on September 11, when the militiamen led a massacre of the entire group. In the siege and massacre, about 120 people were murdered. Only 17 small children survived.

Today the site honors the victims of the massacre. It includes memorials and interpretive signs that give a brief overview of the story and share insights about the victims. Your experience at the site will be self-guided. If you spend time at each of the site’s four stations, you will probably spend about an hour there. The site is mostly accessible to visitors in wheelchairs, but it includes paved and unpaved trails on hills. It includes plenty of parking and one restroom. For a map to the site, click or tap here.

5. Cove Fort Historic Site

From 1867 to 1882, Cove Fort served as a vital way station between settlements in northern and southern Utah. It is 128 miles (206 kilometers) northeast of St. George. For information about the significance of Cove Fort and about what you can expect when you visit, click or tap here.