The Honeymoon Trail ran right through the Cliff Dwellers Lodge property and was the historic old wagon road linking St. George, Utah with Lees Ferry on the Colorado River; and from there, to numerous settlements throughout northeastern Arizona. The route was used for several years by young married couples from Arizona seeking Temple marriage in what was then the only “Mormon” Temple west of the Mississippi River.
Brigham Young, the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sent Jacob Hamblin, who had traveled Northern Arizona, to select an area for a “Mormon” settlement. Hamblin suggested a colony near the San Francisco Mountains along the Little Colorado. In 1873, Young sent Lorenzo W. Roundy to explore with Hamblin. They reported their findings to Young, who then sent Horton D. Haight and a group of men to settle the land. Haight and his party returned to Utah a few months later, complaining that the land was too barren to settle and describing what they considered to be monumental problems.
Yet, in 1875, Young sent 15 men, including James S. Brown, to settle the area. In December, they reached Moenkopi and built a fort in Tuba City. Then they turned to exploring the area. The next year, Brown returned to Salt Lake City and gave a favorable report to Young. Soon, more than 200 settlers arrived and established such communities as Sunset, Joseph City, Snowflake, Show Low and Taylor.
In 1877, the St. George Temple was completed and in 1881 the first of the settlers made the journey to St. George over what would eventually become known as the “Honeymoon Trail.” The trip took 3-6 weeks, with the worst section being the crossing of the Colorado River. Earlier, in 1870, Brigham Young had sent John D. Lee to establish a ferry and by 1872 it was fully functional. Lee worked the ferry until 1874, after which it was manned by the Johnson family until 1896. In 1928, Navajo Bridge was built, replacing the ferry.
Much of the Honeymoon Trail is still visible. In some places it can be negotiated by car, although most of it is passable only by foot, horse or 4-wheel drive vehicle. Some sections are located on private land or Native American lands. The trail is sporadically marked on public lands from the Lees Ferry area to just east of St. George, Utah.
As wagon trains and young couples moved along the trail, they stopped to leave their names chiseled in sandstone or painted in axle grease on the cliff walls in several areas. If one of your loved ones passed along the Honeymoon Trail, their signatures may be etched into the stones of Arizona.