Information on:

Smithsonian Butte-Canaan Mountain


Canaan Mountain is located in Southern Utah. This is south of Zion National Park but in the same general area. It is a large mountain that forms a 2000 foot escarpment above the valley. Canaan Mountain is surrounded by steep cliffs on all sides. There are only a few weaknesses in these cliffs that allow routes to the top of the mountain. The plateau is several miles long and covered with buttes, domes, pinnacles, hoodoos, canyons, and washes. This is a scenic and beautiful area that doesn’t see as many hikers. The mountain holds historical importance. There is an old stock trail and abandoned cable works that lowered timber down to the valley. They were used years ago and can be seen today on the plateau.

The mountain is made out of sandstone which is typical of the area. The Vermillion Cliffs are part of the colorful walls located on Canaan Mountain. Smithsonian Butte and Gooseberry Mesa form the westernmost formations of the Vermillion Cliffs. The Smithsonian Butte Back Country Byway goes by all of these areas. Canaan Mountain is an incredible wall that rises above the hills and canyons to the east. To the north are spectacular views of Zion National Park, including the East and West Temples, Mount Kinesava, and The Watchman. You can also see the Virgin River Valley and Eagle Crags. 

The mountain is located in the Canaan Mountain Wilderness Study Area. It contains 47,120 acres of land. Another wilderness area is Parunuweap Canyon which is located east of Canaan Mountain. They are extensions of the great and vast wilderness that is near Zion National Park. The only difference is that fewer people hike here. The plateau on Canaan Mountain has groves of aspen, ponderosa pines, and juniper with pinyon woodlands. The wilderness is used mainly for ranching and a considerable amount of off road vehicle activity. When I climbed the mountain I saw several ATV riders.

The north side of the mountain is located near the towns of Grafton and Rockville. Grafton is now a historic ghost town and Rockville has a population of less than 250 people. The south side of the mountain is located above the cities of Hildale and Colorado City. The only thing that separates them is the state line near the border of Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Both cities are known for having some of the largest polygamous communities in the United States. Outsiders are not really welcome here. These two towns were formally known as Short Creek which is one of the large tributary canyons located on the south side of Canaan Mountain. 

The name of the mountain comes from Canaan in the Bible and is pronounced as Ka'-nan. The descendants of Canaan were known as the Canaanites. This became a general term for all the inhabitants of the land of ancient Israel, and especially to the tribe who traveled west of the Dead Sea. Canaan is an early name for what is often called Israel or Palestine. It extends along the coast of the eastern Mediterranean. Lebanon lies to the north and Egypt is to the south, and the eastern border is the Jordan River. Canaan represents the land that was promised to Abraham, who resided at different places in the country, mainly in the south. It is derived from Canaan who was the son of Ham and grandson of Noah. 


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