House Rock Valley
House Rock Valley is located in Coconino County, Arizona. The valley covers approximately 280 square miles. Full of deep canyons and pools of water, this area is a gem for hikers and tourists alike.
The House Rock Valley Buffalo Range sits to the southwest.
Scientists believe that the first groups of people to inhabit the land were Pueblo Indians from approximately A.D. 1050-1150. Water was very scarce for the natives. Seeds, berries, and nuts in and around the valley provided for their dietary needs.
Mormon explorers first arrived at House Rock Valley as early as 1847. Chief among these first immigrants was a man named Jacob Hamblin.
Hamblin first reached the area on a church mission in the fall of 1857 with other church missionaries.
He returned in 1859 and 1860 with yet other groups of Mormon missionaries. He recorded detailed accounts of the land and his dealings with the Paiute people. Through his many voyages across the Kaibab Plateau and House Rock Valley, Hamblin helped establish future trade routes and roads for generations to come.
He was likely one of the first to bring cattle into the House Rock Valley region. He used the cattle for food and to trade with the Hopi people.
John D. Lee
One of the earliest pioneers in the 1870s to House Rock Valley was John D. Lee. Lee was convicted later in life as a mass murderer and sentenced to death due to his involvement with the Mountain Meadows massacre.
Before this point the Mormon population largely accepted him. Lee helped build two different ranches—one at Lee’s Ferry and another at Jacob’s Pool. In 1872 he constructed a one-room house for himself and his wife Rachel Lee.
In the following years he brought cattle to his land at Jacob’s Pool and continued to build structures to expand his ranch.
Millions of bison once roamed North America freely until they neared extinction due to hunting and trapping in the 1880s. Bison w
ere moved across the Kaibab Plateau by Charles Jesse Jones in an effort to preserve them.
Charles Jesse Jones was born shortly after the end of the civil war. Europeans started to migrate west and saw in the Buffalo opportunities to make adecent living. Buffalo hides could be sold to make leather goods.
Buffalo Jones was swept up in the excitement and claims to have killed hundreds of buffalo. But as the years passed he noticed the large drop in the bison population and decided to change his ways.
During one winter out on the prairie he noticed something very peculiar—while other animals died in the frozen tundra, the bison not only survived but also thrived. Not a single calf died.
He decided to try an experiment with the Bison in Garden City Kansas. He established a herd of over 100 buffalo by roping them in the wild and bringing them to his farm. He eventually went bankrupt after several zoos refused to buy his bison, but not before attempting to cross breed the bison with the cattle.
Finally he repeated the experiment in Arizona and guided the buffalo to House Rock Valley, an area safe from all hunting activity due to Theodore Roosevelt creating a wildlife refuge. The herd still roams free here today.
Places To Stay
Tourists have a couple of different options when deciding to visit House Rock Valley. Most lodging sits along US 89A to the north and west of House Rock Valley.
Marble Canyon Lodge
Marble Canyon Lodge is 25 miles north of House Rock Valley on US 89A. The lodge was originally a Navajo trading post. Modern renovations such as private houses, apartments, and standard hotel rooms make this an attractive option. They also provide a shuttle bus to the Colorado River.
Lee’s Ferry Lodge
Lee’s Ferry Lodge is located 28 miles north on of House Rock Valley Road on US 89A. This site offers single and suite rooms to accommodate up to 7 guests at a time. An onsite cafe also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the hungry traveler.