Arizona’s Honeymoon Trail
For nearly forty years, couples from Arizona settlements left their homes each fall after harvest and traveled 400 miles to St. George, Utah. Winding slowly through desert and steep canyons, crossing barren plateaus, and passing rivers and pools of undrinkable water, these travelers made their way to be married in the St. George Temple, the only temple completed at that time. The trail followed the old wagon road across the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry. Couples from Snowflake and Taylor were the first known to make the trip in 1881. Some couples married in civil ceremony before leaving, while others were escorted by chaperones. A few couples, waiting to afford the trip, had children who accompanied them. Frequently couples banded together for the trip. Before leaving on the long, hazardous journey, wagons were loaded with food packed in grub boxes, and water barrels were mounted on the wagon sides. Supplies of hay and grain for the animals were also transported. When needed, settlers along the way furnished food and water from their meager supplies.
Because of the romantic nature of these adventures, reporter Will C. Barnes gave the route its name, The Honeymoon Trail. After the Atlantic Pacific Railroad was completed in 1885, a few couples went by train, and later by auto. When the Mesa Arizona Temple was dedicated in 1927, the journey was no longer necessary. The old trail still is visible in a few places. The route was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. This slender thread that connected the Arizona settlements to the St. George Temple became an enduring testimony to the faith of these settlers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A pattern of sacrifice aided the pioneers in settling the Arizona and New Mexico wilderness.