HURRICANE – In this Episode 16 of the “No Filter show,” Paul Ford and Grady Sinclair explore a famous butte in Hurricane Valley called Mollies Nipple, discovering in the process one of the most amazing vantage points in Southern Utah, with the benefit of an incredible ride and overview via Zion Helicopters.
Mollies Nipple, so designated without an apostrophe in accordance with standards established by the U.S. Board on Geological Names, sits 1,353 feet above the valley floor and 4,593 feet above sea level. Technically a butte, or isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top and more narrow than a mesa, Mollies Nipple can be seen from as far as Washington City and the City of St. George.
Mollies Nipple was a well known landmark to the early pioneer explorers and has significant meaning to the indigenous peoples that inhabited the area before the pioneers. Atop the butte one can find remnants of ancient pottery. Some scholars maintain that the butte was used to rally seed gathering parties and hunting expeditions, according to Utah Department of Heritage and Arts. They would light fires and send smoke signals that could be seen throughout the entire region. Below the butte, one can find caves that were used in ancient times for temporary shelter and cooking.
Once on top of the butte, visitors will be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Washington County. Sand Hollow Reservoir brightly glistens to the southwest; and to the north and northwest one can see Pine Valley mountain in all of its majesty. The town of Hurricane, Zion National Park, the Kolob Fingers and Cedar Mountain come into view as one scales the horizon.
The many different colors of the surrounding landscape come to life in views from atop Mollies Nipple so remarkably that they were mentioned by Liam Neeson on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon when Liam Neeson related his own experience ascending Mollies Nipple with his son. Neeson said he has a fear of heights, which is apropos due to the fact that the butte gives you the sensation that you are standing on ground much higher than the reality due to how narrow the small plateau is on the butte’s top.
By some accounts there are approximately 11 geological features named Mollies Nipple in Utah. Some of these are attributed to an early pioneer named John Kitchen whose wife was named Mollie, according to author Brandon Griggs in his book, “Utah Curiosities,” citing another book, “Utah Place Names,” and RoadsideAmerica.com, among others.
While it may give rise to nervous giggles and occasional off-color humor, the toponym “nipple” has been applied to many mountains, buttes, lakes and creeks, not only in America’s West but in the eastern U.S. as well. According to factreference.org, on Mollies Nipple the term has a few different meanins, its Web page explains:
The term Molly (as well as Molley and Mollie) was slang for a harlot, or a prostitute going back to at least the early 1700s. The origin for most of the summits listed below is this early slang usage of the name. Anyone with an ancestor by the name of Molly who was an early settler in these areas might assume it was named for their pioneer relative. So, family stories handed down over the years may claim just such an attribution. But this is rarely ever the case.
From the top of St. George Boulevard in St. George, Mollies Nipple is a 28-mile drive. A four-wheel drive vehicle is needed for the last quarter-mile to the base of the butte; however, a two-wheel drive is adequate if a small amount of hiking fits the visitor’s lifestyle.
From Hurricane, one can use Highway 59. This is the same highway that accesses Colorado City, Arizona, Kanab and Lake Powell. Just a few miles outside of Hurricane there is a youth academy turn-off road heading west. Mollies Nipple is visible at that point. Expect dirt roads and a few Ys in the road (keep to the right).
This is a fun adventure, and the boys of the “No Filter Show” found that half the fun of Mollies Nipple is … getting there.
- To enjoy Mollies Nipple and other sights of Southern Utah by helicopter visit: Zion Helicopters | Scenic Tours From 8 a.m. to Sunset 7 days a week | website | Address: 25 N. 2770 West, Hurricane | Telephone: 435-668-4185
- Discussion over future of historic Rockville Bridge continues
- Future of historic Rockville Bridge in question
- Graveyard shifts: Cemeteries in Washington County and coming attractions
- St. George-Springdale bus route, longer pool season for Hurricane, gain traction
- Springdale Council discusses Virgin River blockage threat, invasive species eradication
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