A Pit Stop a Day (Day 16): Cove Fort, Utah

Entrance to Cove Fort.

On Day 16, we reluctantly left the Westgate Park City behind to enthusiastically set out for Zion National Park. We needed a pit stop en route, and found it in Cove Fort between Fillmore and Beaver along I-15.

At first, we thought Cove Fort was a self-guided tour, but after eating our lunch in their large picnic area, we were greeted by a fort guide (docent) and told that entrance to the fort is by guided tour only. The tour included a 15 minute film followed by a walk-through. I wasn’t sure how much time I wanted to devote to this pit stop, but I wanted the kids (and myself!) to learn a bit more about Utah history, so we decided to do it.

The film was your typical historical museum recounting of the events leading up to and following the construction of the fort, and explained its purpose and described the people who lived there with narratives. It held everyone’s attention and Toby (age 5) followed along fine.

Our tour guide was very friendly and clearly cared about the historical significance of the fort. I was (happily) surprised that we didn’t need to wait for more visitors before starting our tour: there were enough guides to take individual families through the fort. She took us through many different rooms (all of which had been preserved with articles and furniture of the fort’s era) and explained life at the fort during its operation. Again, she kept the kids’ attention and answered their many questions.

Restored interior room at Cove Fort.

What I had thought would be a so-so pit stop and mostly a lunch break turned out to be very interesting and a great history lesson. The kids got to stretch their legs, learn about Utah history, and were given a small wooden toy much like a boy at the fort would have played with as a parting gift.

Note: Cove Fort is owned and operated by the LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Understandably (due to Mormon and American history merging so thoroughly in Utah), there is a religious undertone to the tour. The inhabitants of the fort were Mormon pioneers, after all, and this is part of their story. However, the guides do take the opportunity to share their faith, and there are many Mormon references during their spiel. If this sort of thing makes you uncomfortable, you might want to skip the tour.

Extra Tip: If you need to cut your tour short due to time constraints, attention spans, etc, just let your guide know. They can cut out parts of it to help you get on your way (one perk of having guides per every family/group). Ours was very understanding.

Date last visited: July 6, 2010.

Distance off the interstate: Right off both I-15 and I-70.

Admission: Free!


April-September: 8 am-sunset daily
October-March: 9 am-sunset daily

Food Services: There’s a very nice picnic area adjacent to the fort (you can’t miss it because you park right next to it). It’s well shaded by mature trees and there’s lots of grass and nice bathrooms. We bought sandwiches at the Subway right off the interstate and ate before touring the fort.

Website: None.

Directions: From I-15, take Exit 135 and follow signs after the gas station/Subway. From I-70, take Exit 1 to destination.

Up Next: We arrive in Zion National Park and check into the Cliffrose Lodge and Gardens!