GRAFTON (Ghost Town)
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Located on the southern banks of the Virgin River outside of Zion National Park, the ghost town of Grafton was first settled in 1859. A flood in 1862 and Indian attacks in 1866 helped lead to its eventual abandonment. The site is now maintained by the Grafton Heritage Partnership and includes several historic buildings and an old cemetery. A visit to Grafton makes for a pleasant family stroll through history.
To drive to Grafton from Zion, follow Route 9 out of Springdale until you enter the small town of Rockville. Look for Bridge Road that heads south across the river. (Bridge Road may be easy to miss if you are not looking for it, but drive slowly and look for the small lattice truss bridge that crosses the Virgin River.) Once across the bridge, turn right on Grafton Road and follow the dirt road for a little over three miles until you reach Grafton. Note that the road and the site are surrounded by private property, so please be respectful of "no trespassing" signs.
Once you reach the site, you should see the most prominent and notable buildings: the old school house and the nearby Russell Home. Park and roam around at your leisure. Much of Grafton is maintained and restored by the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project. There are several other historic buildings in the area which may or may not be accessible, so please respect the fences and signs. A stroll through the site may take a few minutes to a few leisurely hours. Also of note is the historic Grafton Cemetery, located down the road just south of town. For more information on the history of Grafton and the Grafton Heritage Partnership Project's mission, please see their website: www.graftonheritage.org.
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A short visit to Grafton would be a worthy diversion for any vacationer looking to catch a glimpse of what pioneer life was like back in the 1800s. The site is family-friendly so kids would enjoy roaming around as well. Be warned that during the high summer months, this section of the greater Zion area can be very hot, so morning/evening or a cloudy day might be the most pleasant times to visit.