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The Polygamy Blog

Why do polygamists live in rural Utah, Arizona? Here’s why

First Published Apr 11 2014 09:48AM      Last Updated Apr 11 2014 09:48 am

(Nate Carlisle | The Salt Lake Tribune) A stream runs down Water Canyon near Hildale in this photo from Sept. 24, 2013.

A question I’ve heard over the years is: "Why would anyone want to live there?"

The "there" is Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., often referred to as Short Creek. It’s the longtime home for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The next town to the south is Centennial Park, with its own group of polygamists.

The towns all sit in a dusty valley in a no man’s land between two states. There’s no significant industry. It’s tough to make a living. And, well, let’s face it: all the towns could use a few landscapers and civic beautification committees.



But it’s still southern Utah and northern Arizona and there is beauty there. In September, I took a hike up Water Canyon. I wrote about the trail for the latest edition of Hike of the Week.

After you leave the dust, you begin walking up what looks like a desert oasis between gorgeous red rocks. Walk a little higher and turn around, and you’ll have a panoramic, yet up-close view of red and green mountains.

On my walk back to my car, I came across five pre-teen girls riding horses through the canyon.

No doubt many people in Short Creek live there to be left alone. But many live there for the same reason people live in little towns throughout the Arizona Strip, whether it’s Hurricane and Kanab on the Utah side or Page and Kingman on the Arizona side.

The hard life has beauty, and it’s a place you can run wild.

— Nate Carlisle

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