Church history sites dot nearly every corner of Nauvoo, Illinois. Upstate New York and Kirtland, Ohio, have their share of historically significant places too. But families living in Utah County don’t need to drive across the country to learn more about the heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, which was originally formed in 1992 as the Ensign Peak Foundation, works to identify, preserve and commemorate places of historical importance to the Church. These 9 Utah locations are some of the foundation’s registered historic sites and are all within a few hours’ drive from Utah Valley.
1. Cove Fort, Millard County
Distance from Provo: 133 miles
Dedicated: May 9, 1992, by Gordon B. Hinckley
Significant because: Cove Fort is the only fort built during the settling of the Utah Territory that remains standing. It was built in 1867 under the supervision of Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, grandfather of President Gordon B. Hinckley. Ira Hinckley was called to do so by Brigham Young.
The fort served people traveling across Utah by giving them a place to rest during the long journey between settlements. As the need for a fort waned over the years, Cove Fort was owned privately until the Church acquired it in 1988.
Things to see: Tour the fort grounds, including the house, garden, blacksmith shop and more.
2. Brigham Young’s Winter Home, St. George
Distance from Provo: 259 miles
Purchased and restored in: The 1970s
Significant because: Brigham Young, the second president of the Church, spent several winters here with members of his family. The warmer climate in St. George helped ease the pain of his rheumatism.
Things to see: Exhibits on display—the home has been restored as a museum.
3. Temple Square, Salt Lake City
Distance from Provo: 45 miles
Significant because: Home to the original settlement of Saints in 1847; site of the Salt Lake Temple, Church headquarters and several historic sites
Things to see: Assembly Hall, Beehive House, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Salt Lake Temple, Seagull Monument, Deuel Log Home (in Pioneer Park), Visitors Centers, landscaping on Temple Square in the summer, lights on Temple Square during the Christmas Season.
4. Ensign Peak, Salt Lake City
Distance from Provo: 48 miles
Dedicated on: July 26, 1996, by Gordon B. Hinckley
Significant because: President Brigham Young hiked Ensign Peak with eight others shortly after their arrival in Salt Lake City. He said he had seen the peak in vision and was told to “build under the point where the colors fall, and you will prosper and have peace.”
Things to see: 18-foot monument, which is made of stones collected from stakes along the Mormon Trail. Also Ensign Peak Nature Park, Ensign Peak trail and a memorial garden near the base of the peak.
5. Icelandic Monument, Spanish Fork
Distance from Provo: 9 miles
Dedicated on: June 25, 2005, by Gordon B. Hinckley
Significant because: A majority of LDS Icelandic emigrants who came to Salt Lake City settled in Spanish Fork. The Daughters of Utah Pioneers and the Icelandic Association of Utah dedicated a lighthouse monument commemorating the Icelandic settlement in 1938. In 2005, additions including an additional monument, a rock from Iceland and several plaques with historical accounts of Icelandic pioneers etched on them were constructed.
Things to see: “Wall of Honor” that lists the names of Icelandic pioneers, annual Iceland Days celebration.
6. Jacob Hamblin Home, St. George
Distance from Provo: 259 miles
Significant because: Jacob Hamblin was a great missionary to the Native Americans and significant Church figure because of his missionary efforts.
Things to see: Tour the home where Hamblin lived with his large family, including an orchard of fruit trees and the porch where his family dried fruit.
7. James G. Willie Rock Home, Mendon
Distance from Provo: 122 miles
Significant because: James G. Willie led the Willie Handcart Company and later helped settle Mendon, Utah. He lived with his family in this home for more than 40 years.
Things to see: Tour the home, which was restored by James’ great-grandson Paul Willie.
8. Martin Harris Gravesite, Clarkston
Distance from Provo: 141 miles
Monument dedicated on: July 10, 1925—the 50th anniversary of Martin Harris’ death, by Heber J. Grant
Significant because: Martin Harris was one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Though he left the Church for a time, he returned to full fellowship later in life. He is buried with a copy of the Book of Mormon in his right hand and a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants in this left.
Things to see: Historical musical play called “Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew,” which is performed in an amphitheater near the gravesite.
9. St. George Tabernacle, St. George
Distance from Provo: 259 miles
Dedicated on: May 14, 1876
Significant because: President Lorenzo Snow visited Church members in St. George and, while speaking in the tabernacle, received a revelation that the time had come for all Church members to pay a full tithe.
Things to see: Community events held in the tabernacle, including regular concerts and Church meetings.
Southeast Utah Town of Monticello. It has a small LDS temple and camping facilities, restaurants and hotels and a world class golf course. The golf course center hosts two wonderful meals a week for seniors for just two dollars and includes a salad bar. Indoor city swimming pool, city parks, July 24th parade to name a few activities. Take the road over the mountain next to the Monticello visitor center to the mostly unknown but the most prettiest road that leads to Canyon Lands National Park needles district and newspaper rock national recreation area. Three lakes and reservoirs gives Monticello a beautiful green surrounded by large farm country to the east, desert climate to the south, Blue mountain and national parks to the west and our famous city of Moab to the north. Monticello also hosts other faiths including A beautiful new catholic church and a Baptist radio station. Monticello is in the heart of the great circle, Historic Bluff fort to the south details the historic “hole in the rock pioneers”. Moab to the north has world wide known adventures. Monticello is the heart of the big circle, largest concentrations of national parks located in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado are all just a short drive away. Historic Indian ruins, dinosaur museum’s and a tesla charging station in Blanding are close by. Utah state university system also has colorful walking trails to enjoy. Monticello is still mostly unknown so the prices are still pretty reasonable for camping motels etc. I am a new comer here and wonder at the truly undiscovered country.