Homolo'vi Sunset Cemetary

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 4872 - 4908 feet
Cellphone: 2-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Dogs (on leash)
Time: 30 mins.
Facilities: Flush toilet
Trailhead: Homolovi State Park Visitor Center
Fee: $7/vehicle
Attractions: Pioneer Mormon Cemetery
 


View Sunset Cemetery in a larger map

The Sunset Cemetery is located in the Homolovi State Park near Winslow, Arizona. A short trail leads to the site which is an early Mormon pioneer cemetery with gravestones dating back to the late 1800's. The cemetery sits on a hill overlooking the Little Colorado River where the pioneers were endeavoring to build a settlement named Sunset Fort. The fort was one of four such settlements being built in the area by the pioneers that were sent to the area by Brigham Young in 1876. Brigham City was one of the other sites located on the opposite side of the river while Obed and Joseph City were being established further upstream toward the present day city of Holbrook.


The trail to the cemetery begins from the Visitor Center parking area and follows a road that heads across the open hilltop to the west.


The trail passes through a gate about midway to the cemetery.


Only 6 of the 23 identified (pg.9) graves in the small cemetery are adults with the rest of the numbers being made up of seven children and nine infants or newborns. The infant mortality rate must not have been much better than the indigenous population of the area. You would think that the loss of so many little ones would have made their parents long for happier places they may have known.


Although some of the gravestones have been replaced there are a few of the original monuments left that are interesting to note not just for their inscriptions but for observing the material used, which was sandstone, and the style of the lettering.


A rot iron post that is secured to the ground in a block of cement has small pebbles inlaid that spell out the word 'Sunset'.


Similar to other locations in the park fragments of pottery can be found along the road leading to the cemetery. While these that were noticed near the gate appeared to be planted there for visitors amusement there were other sherds along the route that were also noticeable.


The cemetery is all that is left of the Sunset Fort community. Everything else has been washed downstream by the frequent floods of the Little Colorado River. The local Hopi farmers had apparently warned the pioneers against building and planting along the river. The hardships that came from having their crops washed away along with the irrigation dams they had constructed eventually helped lead to their abandonment of the area. (Then again, maybe it is bad karma to build your house with stones taken from Hopi ruins.) If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.