Legend of the Paria, Utah Ghost Town

Just a short drive from our historic accommodations here at Parry Lodge awaits the almost forgotten Utah ghost down of Paria. A small community of individuals founded the city and lived here amid the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for a number of years. However, due to nature’s wrath, it is now wholly abandoned. However, Paria has a rather legendary history that ultimately crosses paths with our history here at Parry Lodge.

The Early History of Paria, Utah Ghost Town

First settled by a small group of Mormons led by Peter Shirts, Paria began attracting more settlers after the Black Hawk War concluded in 1867. Attempts at farming the area were initially successful, but the desert absorbed life-giving water too quickly, prompting half of the residents to move the settlement five miles upstream where the town of Pahreah was founded. In 1871, a man on the run from being investigated in the Mountain Meadows massacre—John D. Lee—fled to Paria. However, he was embraced by residents because he assisted in the construction of irrigation ditches and a dam to help solve their water problem.

These sister communities flourished during the 1870's with nearly 50 settlers as more homes were constructed along with a church and a general store. Yet, it was hard times in the early 1880's that would ultimately be responsible for Paria’s transition into a ghost town. From 1883-1888, the Paria River surged past its banks and flooded the town every single year. With crops, homes, and buildings being swept away regularly, the citizens eventually moved away with only eight staying to tough out the terrain. A mini-resurgence effort occurred in 1911 when a gold mining operation came to Paria but also succumbed to flooding. Only one prospector held out until 1929 and the town was officially abandoned—until it was discovered by the film industry.

Paria, Utah Becomes Hollywood’s Ghost Town Backdrop

With increased interest in western films sweeping the nation, the ghost town of Paria with its picturesque canyon vistas and desert terrain became a site of tremendous interest as a setting amid Hollywood’s top movie and television producers. Films and scenes shot over the years in Paria include “Buffalo Bill”, “Sergeants 3” and “Outlaw Josey Wales”. However, the flooding that wiped out the town continued to be a problem for film and TV crews. In the 1990's, the site was revamped but markers distinguish the ‘movie set’ Paria and the original establishment. Producers occasionally still film there today.

Stay Where the Stars Stayed at Parry Lodge

Established in 1931, the historic Parry Lodge has hosted dozens of stars from the early film days to the present. Some of our guests have included John Way, Gregory Peck, Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Regan and many more. Make Parry Lodge your home away from home while visiting all of the best the region has to offer including the ghost town of Paria and Pahreah. Book your stay with us at Parry Lodge in Kanab, UT today by calling 888.289.1722.

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