Henrieville is located just east of Bryce Canyon and Cannonville on Utah Scenic Byway 12. East of Cannonville is the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which covers a lot of ground in this territory. This vast geological staircase is composed of stepped tiers of various textures of rock strata that rise to an apex along Scenic Byway 12. Each layer of the staircase erodes at a different rate, so as can be imagined, there are many unusual rock outcrop formations to be seen. One such famous landmark near Henrieville is called Promise Rock, which has some Mormon pioneer history to tell.
Promise Rock is an interesting rock outcrop formation that is easy to spot when driving east from Bryce Country on SR 12. After passing through the little town of Cannonville there is a Promise Rock roadside scenic overlook with a few historical markers. The landscape in this region of the Grand Staircase definitely is quite ominous and the views of the towering white sandstone bluffs are an indicator of just how impassible this region must have been for the early Mormon pioneers heading west.
Promise Rock is located in a fertile valley, so this area must have looked like the promised land after passing through the extremely harsh badlands to the east. This is especially true for the sheepherding settlers, because this green valley is one of the first good grazing areas to be found when heading west. Sheepherding has been a tradition in this valley ever since and these animals do roam the hills.
Promise Rock once had a natural rock arch, which may have added even more inspiration for the choice of name. There are roadside hiking trails to Promise Rock that start near the Scenic Byway 12 Overlook and along Cottonwood Canyon Road in Cannonville, but few people do the trek anymore, because the natural arch fell down some time ago.
Just a short distance east of Promise Rock is where Henrieville can be found when touring Scenic Byway 12. Henrieville began as a Mormon pioneer settlement back in the 1870s and it has remained a quaint little farm community ever since. Folks in Henrieville kind of prefer preserving the old time small town charm, so the modern tourism businesses that one would expect to see are not present in this place. This mode of community planning has preserved the peace and quiet, which is a rarity in this modern age. Henrieville does have a small visitors center that is worth checking out, because a lot of old west history was made in this region. How all the landmarks and settlements in this region got their names can be learned in this information station too. The pioneer history makes this small section of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument well worth checking out!
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