Uncovering the past.

History of Springdale

Springdale, Utah has a unique history

Springdale, Utah is a beautiful town located in the southwestern corner of Zion National Park. The area has been inhabited since the Anasazi people arrived around 200 B.C. By the time Mormon pioneers arrived in 1859, more than 20 Ancestral Puebloan sites were spread throughout the area. Today, many of these ancient ruins can still be seen.

Native American History

Uncovering the past reveals that the stunning Zion Canyon was inhabited by native peoples long before modern times. The Basketmaker culture can be traced back to around 500 A.D., and their settlement endured until the Anazasi abandoned the area in 1200 A.D. Later on, European settlers bore witness to the Paiute people working the land by the Virgin River, honing their agricultural skills. By the turn of the 19th century, the Paiute had moved on, but their influence can still be felt in Springdale today.

Mormon Pioneers

In 1862, a group of determined Mormon pioneers followed the call from Brigham Young and established a Cotton Mission at the mouth of a canyon in present-day Springdale. One of the settlers, Albert Petty, selected a location for his home beside a set of large springs and his wife christened it Springdale.

Springdale was first surveyed back in 1863. Despite its close proximity to the larger community of Rockville, it wasn't until 1864 that Springdale became a branch of the more established town. Settlers would regularly travel to Rockville for shopping, church, and to send and receive messages until later when Springdale built its first public building, serving as both a school and a church, around 1885. The town's first post office didn't open until 1897.

Surviving in Springdale during its early years was a formidable challenge. The houses were crude, constructed with logs or willows from the river and sealed with mud. Roofs were fashioned from bundles of willow and shielded with bark and dirt. Glass windows were scarce. Both clothing and tools were typically homemade, and Springdale inhabitants were largely self-sustaining due to a lack of outside commerce. Moreover, settlers faced imminent risks from Native American hostilities, floodwaters, drought, or boulders tumbling from above.

Growth Through The Years

Early settlers recognized the value of education, starting schools soon after settling in new towns, even before the conveniences we enjoy today were available. Despite holding school in their homes with limited supplies, they made every attempt to donate books and materials. Attendance was often sporadic, given the priority of helping their families in the fields, pastures, and orchards to survive. Children took turns attending classes and learned basic subjects such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling.

Springdale, once a quiet Mormon farming community, underwent a major transformation in the early 1900s. The arrival of automobiles and tourists from Salt Lake City marked the beginning of significant changes to the town's landscape. The opening of Wylie Way Camp, one of the earliest tourist destinations in Zion, further cemented Springdale's emergence as a hotspot for visitors. The sleepy community was about to undergo a dramatic shift.

Zion National Park

In 1920, Mukuntuweap National Monument was established before becoming the renowned Zion National Park. This transformation happened fast, with electricity, gas stations, and other tourist amenities quickly appearing to serve the influx of visitors. Young men seized new job opportunities in resource management and tourism, leaving their farming roots behind. Eventually, the park became more accessible with roads and other conveniences, further boosting its popularity as a destination.

Springdale, a secluded settlement for almost 100 years due to the closed canyon, had only one way in and out. Even with the now-famous cable works in 1901, which brought timber from the East Rim of Zion, there was no highway to access the community or park from the east. However, in 1930, the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and Tunnel was constructed, changing everything. The mile-long tunnel carved through solid sandstone, is dark, cool, and damp, but wide enough for two lanes of traffic. It brought the world to Springdale's doorstep, as people heard about the breathtaking features of Zion National Park.

Springdale Today

Today, Springdale offers something for everyone. From the historic downtown area, to the many shops and restaurants that line the trails of Zion National Park, this quaint town has become a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With lodging options ranging from bed and breakfasts to camping sites, visitors can enjoy all Springdale offers. Visitors come from around the globe to take in the majestic views of Zion Canyon, hike through miles of trails, or take part in a variety of activities like mountain biking and canyoneering.