Native American History
The Anasazi State Park was first occupied by the Ancestral Puebloan people, commonly referred to as the Anasazi, who had settled in the San Rafael Swell region of south-central Utah by 500 BC. As farming communities, they grew corn and squash as their primary crops, supplemented by hunting and gathering. The Anasazi built earthen pit houses and later, underground dwellings for protection from the elements. They also constructed granaries, storage facilities and ceremonial structures such as kivas. In addition to their everyday activities, the Anasazi practiced complex spiritual ceremonies involving both music and dance.
During this period, much of the park was used for farming. The Anasazi built an extensive system of irrigation canals to bring water from the nearby Fremont River and Red Creek to their crops. They also erected defensive walls around the area and constructed large stone towers as lookout points.
By 1300 AD, the Ancestral Puebloans had started to move away from the area. The reasons for their migration are unknown, but it is believed that drought, overcrowding and invasions by other Native American tribes may have been contributing factors.
The ruins of Coombs Village, the site of Anasazi State Park, were first discovered in 1932 by two brothers from Torrey, Utah who were on a prospecting mission. Further archaeological excavations conducted over the next few decades revealed a wealth of information about the lives and practices of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the area. The ruins consist of an array of dwellings, granaries, storage rooms and a kiva.
The park also contains numerous other archaeological sites including petroglyphs (engravings on rock surfaces) thought to depict gods and supernatural beings, pictographs (paintings on rock surfaces) depicting hunting scenes or animals such as snakes and lizards, and the remains of defensive walls.
In the mid-1800s, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) started settling in the San Rafael Swell and surrounding areas. Led by Joseph Smith Jr., they established a number of farming communities in the region. By 1875, a total of six Mormon settlements had been established within a five-mile radius of Anasazi State Park.
In the mid-1900s, church members began to move away from the area due to a combination of unfavorable economic conditions and religious restrictions. By 1970, all but one of the settlements had been abandoned. Today, few traces remain of these once-thriving communities.
State Park Creation
Anasazi State Park was established in 1960 to protect the archaeological sites of Coombs Village. Initially managed by the Bureau of Land Management, it has since been transferred to Utah State Parks and Recreation. Visitors to the park can explore a series of interpretive trails that lead through the remaining ruins. Other activities available in the park include camping, picnicking, fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.