Big Love, Small Town: Our Area’s Polygamist Community
Less than an hour West of Kanab lies the fascinating town of Colorado City, Arizona. The inspiration for HBO’s successful hit ‘Big Love’. Colorado City is one of the most remote communities in the Southwest—if not in the whole U.S.—in terms of distance to “civilization as we know it” and in terms of it’s virtual disconnection from mainstream American culture.
The town is the largest polygamist community in the country and was founded in 1913 by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), an extremist sect of the Mormon Church. The original settlers sought a remote location where they could practice plural marriage.
Before he landed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, and consequently in federal prison, the infamous Warren Jeffs controlled most of the land, and day-to-day life, in Colorado City. See an ABC news story here.
The community is known for it’s shunning of outsiders. Residents are known to ignore any visitors who approach them. What’s more, there are no restaurants or hotels (and definitely no bars) in Colorado City limits. You might be thinking, “Well then, why the heck would I want to waste my time there?”
We recommend a drive through Colorado City, because it’s like entering a foreign land without ever leaving the state of Utah. Docile women and girls walk the streets of the town with the long braids and modest dresses most of us would associate with early Western pioneers. Plain, but unusually large homes insinuate families with six wives and twenty-four children. Unfinished construction projects suggest the hard financial times that have been brought upon the FLDS in the wake of the criminal prosecution of some of the sect’s important leaders, although rumor has it is avoids taxes since the homes are considered ‘un-finished’?
Pass through Colorado City on your way to the nearby Pipe Spring National Monument, or Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. It may not be the most exhilarating stop on your itinerary—but we guarantee that it’s like no place you’ve ever been before.