grafton ghost town

Ultimate Guide To Visiting Grafton Ghost Town: What To Expect

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Are you interested in visiting Grafton ghost town? Look no further as we discuss how to get there, what you can expect to see, and more!

Get ready to saddle up and journey to Grafton, a ghost town nestled in the heart of Utah.

As experienced explorers of ghost towns, we have had the opportunity to visit several abandoned towns and places throughout the US. But one visit to Grafton, and it has truly captured a place in our hearts.

With its rich history and ghostly remnants, this town is a must-visit for naturalists and history buffs alike. So grab your hat and boots, and let’s go on an unforgettable journey to the past to see this ghost town near Zion National Park.

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History of Grafton Ghost Town

Grafton was a small farming community in Utah, settled in 1859 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The church members became hard-working farmers who planted various crops to sustain themselves and to sell for a livelihood. Cotton was particularly in demand then.

The town grew as more settlers came from Salt Lake City to join the community.

grafton ghost town view of mountains

The initial Mormon pioneer settlement from 1859 was about a mile downriver from where it currently sits. In 1862, after heavy rain caused severe flooding from the Virgin River at the original site, it moved about a mile upstream to its present location.

Life was difficult for the farmers, but they continued to work and prevail.

At its peak settlement, the community held a post office, a Mormon church, an adobe schoolhouse, a few houses, and other such buildings.

Unfortunately, flooding continued to be an issue even after moving the settlement upriver.

In 1866, the town was abandoned for the first time due to fear of Indian attacks from the local Native American tribes.

Conflicts occurred due to a lack of resources and land disputes between Native Americans and the settlers. And so, in 1866, several small towns converged into one for safety reasons.

Some of the residents moved back a couple of years later and continued to work hard on the land. But by the early 1900s, many of the residents left Grafton for good to settle elsewhere.

It was finally abandoned altogether in the early 1940s.

Map Of Grafton

Here is a map of Grafton and surrounding areas to see this ghost town’s location. As you can see, it is quite close to Zion National Park and makes for a quick day trip from there.

google map of the area around Grafton including its location to zion national park

Directions To Grafton

This ghost town is only about a 20-30 drive southwest of Zion National Park.

Coming from the Zion National Park area, you will take the UT-9 South for almost 5 miles. In the city of Rockville, turn left onto Bridge Road.

After a short stretch, veer right onto Grafton Road (just past Smithsonian Butte Rd). Follow the dirt road for just over 3 miles to reach Grafton.

Please remember that while Grafton is public, much of the land nearby is private property. Respect the no-trespassing signs on privately owned land and stick to Grafton’s land only.

📎 Note: The only way to get here is by personal car. There are no buses or shuttles that will take you.

What You Will See In Grafton

The ghost town of Grafton is completely abandoned. All that is left on-site are small buildings, a cemetery, and a few houses.

But it certainly has a beautiful location that is to die for! The moment we saw the beautiful surroundings, it was evident why they worked so hard to stay.


This multi-functional building was built in 1866. It housed the children for education as a school house, was used as a church on Sundays, and was a wonderful community space for dances and gatherings.

schoolhouse in grafton, utah

It was not open during our visit but was very reminiscent looking of the many one-room schoolhouses that still exist in the US.

Alonzo Russell Home

Alonzo Russell was one of the first settlers in Grafton. He was part of the initial settlement downriver that washed away in the flood. And so he moved with his family to Grafton’s current location in 1862 and built a beautiful home. The front porch was a gathering place for his family band to play.

Alonzo, a polygamist, was married to his wife Nancy, with whom he shared this house. But he was also married to Nancy’s sister, Louisa, who had a smaller home nearby.

The inside of the home was empty of any furnishings, but you could visualize what the living situation might have been like.

Louisa Russell Home

As Alonzo’s second wife, Louisa had a smaller log cabin directly across from her sister’s home. Louisa had nine children, six of whom were raised in this cabin.

louisa russell interior of home

Talk about not having any privacy!

Grafton Utah Cemetery

The small cemetery is located about 1/2 mile from the town of Grafton itself and contains what is believed to be 74-84 gravesites. Many of the sites no longer have gravestones.

grave marker near the ghost town of grafton
gravestone in a ghost town near zion

Most of the graves will be from “normal” causes of death. The elderly, those taken by illness, and high infant mortality rates are the types of reasons many are in the cemetery. But there are a few notable exceptions, including a child who was drug by a horse and the Berry brothers.

The Berrys were a husband-wife duo, along with a brother, traveling home when Native Americans attacked them. Even though Grafton was not their home, it was the county seat at the time. So the bodies were delivered and buried here.

📎 Tip: If you are doing a Southwest adventure, Tombstone also has a great cemetery that is worth a visit.

What Is The Best Time To Visit This Mormon Ghost Town

Grafton is open year-round.

Spring and fall will provide the best weather with comfortable temperatures from the mid-60s° F to the mid-80s° F. We went in September, and it was a beautiful, pleasant, sunny day.

Summer can get downright scorching, averaging around 100° F. If you go during this time, take precautions and bring lots of water.

Winter is a possibility, with averages around 55° F. But be aware that winters could bring some snow and rain. The roads may become impassable at that time as they are unpaved.

russell homestead in grafton ghost town

How Much Time Do You Need

There are only a handful of structures still standing. Even with us taking numerous photographs and leisurely looking around and reading the interpretive signs, we were there for only an hour or two.

It is safe to say a couple of hours would be ample time for you to read all the plagues, visit each structure, and swing by the cemetery. You could certainly do it in less time as well if you are just passing through.

If you blocked off 3 hours in your itinerary, that would be sufficient to drive there and back from accommodations close to Zion and give you plenty of time to look around.

Know Before You Go

Here are some important things you might want to know before your visit.

Entrance Fee

It is free to visit Grafton. There is a donation offering box that provides money to the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project for the continued upkeep of the ghost town.

Amenities Available

There are no services in Grafton. No place to eat or drink. No restrooms or fuel.

Fortunately, as mentioned above, you are only about 30 minutes out of Springdale and can make a quick trip back to civilization if the need arises.

lizard on grave marker in the cemetery

Where To Stay Near Grafton

There are not any accommodations directly in Grafton. We have picked out several options in Springdale, right outside Zion National Park.

Luxury 💵 💵 💵 – Cliffrose Springdale

Located just 8 miles from the national park, this accommodation has mountain views and a fantastic outdoor entertainment area. You can’t go wrong with a pool, garden, and outdoor fireplace when you need some downtime from hiking and exploring.

➡️ Check Rates & Availability at Cliffrose Springdale

Mid-Range 💵 💵 – Novel House Inn

Called the Novel House Inn because each room is decorated with a famous author in mind; these rooms are quaint and quiet. Family-run, this inn has an antique charm to it.

➡️ Check Rates & Availability at Novel House Inn

Budget 💵 – Zion Park Motel

This clean and budget-friendly motel has everything you need. Only one mile from the entrance to Zion National Park, the beds are comfy, and the staff is polite. There is an outdoor pool and sun terrace if you have some downtime.

➡️ Check Rates & Availability at Zion Park Motel

📎 Tip: If you want to visit Grafton, along with several national parks like Zion, then St. George, Utah, is actually a great hub.

log cabin in grafton ghost town

Items To Bring To Grafton

As Grafton is a ghost town and there are no amenities, we suggest you bring these items to make the most of your time.

  • Sunscreen: Grafton is located in an area with plenty of sunlight. Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by bringing sunscreen with a high SPF rating.
  • Water: Staying hydrated is crucial, especially in arid regions. Bring ample water to keep yourself hydrated throughout your visit.
  • Comfortable footwear: The terrain around Grafton can be uneven, with gravel and dirt paths. Opt for sturdy and comfortable footwear, such as hiking boots or closed-toe shoes, to explore the area comfortably.
  • Insect repellent: As with many outdoor locations, it may have its fair share of bugs. Protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects by bringing insect repellent.
  • Snacks and food: Pack some snacks and light meals to keep yourself energized during your visit.
  • Camera or smartphone: Grafton offers picturesque views and unique photo opportunities. Capture the beauty and history of the town by bringing a camera or smartphone with a good camera.
  • Comfortable clothing and hat: Dress comfortably for your visit, considering the weather conditions. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing, and don’t forget a hat to shield yourself from the sun.

Notable Spots To Visit Near Grafton

While in the Grafton area, we think these parks should definitely be on your list to see.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a perfect name for what it is, pink-hued dunes situated in Utah. Red sandstone is located nearby the dunes. High winds pick up the sandstone debris and drop it onto the sand dunes, giving them a pink tint.

Activities include photography, hiking, camping, off-roading, and even sandboarding.

The park is located about 45 miles from Grafton.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a breathtaking natural wonder located not too far from Grafton.

The park is known for its unique geological formations called hoodoos, which are tall, thin spires of rock that create a stunning and otherworldly landscape.

Activities include hiking, wildlife viewing, photography, and stargazing after dark.

The park is located about 92 miles from Grafton.

Zion National Park

If we are being honest, this is probably why you are in the area already. It is more likely that you planned a trip to Zion and are looking for other things to see in the area on the side. Hence, visiting Grafton.

Just in case, let us say you should not miss Zion National Park. Zion canyon is gorgeous in every aspect, and a trip to the area would not be complete without at least one day here.

Activities include hiking, photography, and wildlife viewing (amongst many other things to keep you busy).

The park is located about 8 miles from Grafton.

zion national park views

FAQs About Grafton And Utah Ghost Towns

Let’s answer some questions about Grafton!

Is Grafton Ghost Town Worth Visiting?

Yes, Grafton is worth visiting for its historical significance and stunning views. The ghost town offers a unique glimpse into the lives of early settlers and has been well-preserved. Visitors can explore the town’s structures and learn about its past. Additionally, the town’s location provides a picturesque view of the surrounding landscape, making it a great destination for naturalists and photographers.

What Movies Were Filmed In Grafton, Utah?

A handful of movies have been filmed on location in Grafton over the years, including the first-ever outdoor talking movie, In Old Arizona.  Ramrod and The Red Fury can also be added to the list.  But the most famous was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, which won 4 academy awards. 

What Is The Mormon Ghost Town Near Zion?

Grafton is the well-preserved Mormon ghost town located near Zion National Park in southern Utah. The town was settled in 1859 by Mormons and abandoned in the early 1900s. Today, visitors can explore the remaining structures, including a schoolhouse and several homes, and learn about the town’s history.

How Many Ghost Towns Are In Utah?

It is estimated that Utah has over 100 ghost towns, each with its unique history and story. Many of these towns were once mining or railroad communities that were abandoned as their industries declined. Today, some of these towns are preserved as historical sites, while others are nothing more than a few remnants of buildings and structures.

Why Is Grafton Utah Abandoned?

Grafton, Utah was abandoned due to a combination of factors, including flooding, disease, and conflicts with Native Americans. Economic changes, such as the decline in the local cotton industry also impacted the town. By the early 1900s, the town was largely abandoned, with only a few families remaining until the 1940s.

grafton cemetery

To Finish – Ultimate Guide To Visiting Grafton Ghost Town

Even though it is relatively tiny, Grafton ghost town is a great choice for one of your half-day trips while exploring this area of Utah.

National parks can be crazy busy, and heading out for a few hours to visit this attraction may be just what the doctor ordered to get some peace and solitude away from the crowds.