When a Family Vacation Becomes a Heritage Tourism Experience

The Heritage Tourist
a monthly column by Dr. Bill Smith

The last two weeks of May is our (my wife and I) semi-annual vacation to the mountains of southern Utah to visit our daughter and son-in-law where they built a new home a few years ago - still in-process, actually, with the surrounding acreage. We try to go out again in Sept-Oct, if life doesn't get in the way, as it did last year! In preparation for our visits, our daughter sends along a list of the activities in their lives in the local community that will occur while we are in residence.


This year, they included an impressive list of cultural, historical and natural events which caused me to realize this was going to be Heritage Tourism visit, not just a quiet family vacation. Has this happened to you?


The first of two Friday afternoon classes by a local historian focused on the time and place explorer John C. Fremont, on his Fifth and Final Expedition, spent time in the area (Jan 1854). A special activity on the following Saturday included a field trip looking for relics where the expedition left a cache of supplies recovered by others later. It is also the site of an early Mormon farm settlement built in 1878.


The second Friday afternoon class was to be on the history of the five towns in the upper Rabbit Valley along with stories of the families involved. Many of the descendants of those early pioneers are still living in this valley.


The annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival of the Entrada Institute (this will be our third year of attendance) was to be the following Saturday - and we had been invited to be 'out-of-state' judges for the Wayne County High School Poetry contest. It is an all afternoon and evening affair included cowboy and western bands and cowboy poetry readings.


On Sunday, the 20th, we would be joining in the activities surrounding the Solar Eclipse - southern Utah would be hosting people from around the world as one of the best viewing sites.




There were a couple of more items on the agenda - but you get the picture. This was going to be a true Heritage experience: historical, cultural, and natural events in which to participate and immerse ourselves in the local area while have a great vacation next door to Capital Reef National Park, less than ten miles away, and in the center of the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area. Their home is just off of Scenic Byway Highway 24 that runs the length of Wayne County, Utah, past Capital Reef.


My message of the day is to be on the alert for when fine cultural heritage opportunities present themselves. They really enriched this particular vacation experience. I hope each of you may be lucky!


See you down the road! 😉




Dr. Bill Smith is the author of The Heritage Tourist, a monthly column in The In-Depth Genealogist which focuses on the social context of travel and history when applied to our genealogy. Dr. Bill can be found blogging at Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories.



© Dr. Bill Smith 2012

This article originally appeared in the July issue of The In-Depth Genealogist. Receive The In-Depth Genealogist free by subscribing HERE.

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