‘I think we can do better’; City Council considers changing name of Hell Hole trailhead

At the official opening of the Canyons Park and Hell Hole Trailhead in Washington City, Utah, Nov. 23, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY — The long-held name of a trailhead in Washington City is likely to be changed due to its potentially questionable nature.

The boulder at the entrance to the Canyons Park and Hell Hole Trailhead, Washington City, Utah, Feb. 18, 2020 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

A plat dedication moving the Canyons Park and Hell Hole Trailhead at Sienna Hills from the hands of the Sienna Hills developer to the city was tabled during the Washington City Council’s Feb. 12 meeting, but not before discussions were had about removing a part of the name.

“Names, to me, are very important,” Councilman Kress Staheli said as he referred to the Hell Hole portion on the plat’s name.

“Names have historical significance for good or bad,” he said. “This one has a lot of historical significance … because there were settlers here who worked really hard to go get down this canyon to secure water, bring it back up to their settlements … And they had a phrase that stuck with it, right or wrong.”

Staheli said he felt the city should sunset the Hell Hole part of the park and trailhead’s name due to it not representing the area well to locals and visitors, as well as resulting in a long name on paper.

Particularly, Staheli wanted to see the Hell Hole name removed from a boulder and sign planted near the park.

“Even to my own children, I hesitate to use the name of this (park),” Staheli said. “I think we can do better. Just call it the Canyons Park and Trailhead.”

Councilman Daniel Cluff wasn’t so sure about changing the name. In the context of the geography and history of the area, less than polite names make sense and aren’t seen as derogatory. He also referenced other geographical locations in Washington County that have “unique” names.

At the opening of the Canyons Park and Hell Hole Trailhead in Washington City, Utah, Nov. 23, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Since it officially opened in November, the Canyons Park, which features a timed obstacle course and 40-yard dash track, has become increasingly popular with locals and tourists. At the eastern end of the Washington Parkway off Interstate 15’s Exit 13, Staheli called it one of the entrances to the city.

Having the place be referred to as Hell Hole doesn’t reflect well on the city, Staheli said.

It was also noted that near the park and trailhead, several apartments are being built, including affordable housing units. A lot of families with kids from those apartments will likely use the park, Staheli added.

The alternative name of “Settlers Point” was also proposed in order to keep the historic nature of the name. Councilman Kurt Ivie said Settlers Point was the name given to the area where Mormon settlers first settled in what would become Washington City.

“It’s important to us,” Staheli said. “This is what’s going to be representing us. We get a lot of tourists and kids around this, it needs to change.”

Near the end of the discussion, the council largely agreed on a need to change the name of the trailhead, be it to the Canyons, Settlers Point, or whatever the council ultimately chooses.

The council decided to table the item until the next council meeting set for Feb. 26.

While the council members take time to consider what to do about the park and trailhead’s name, city staff was also instructed to determine the cost of changing the name. Part of the cost will involve re-etching a large boulder sitting at the entrance to the part that has the current Canyons and Hell Hole name carved into it.

“I’d like to have a name we can all buy into,” Staheli said.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!