Mormon Trail of the Pioneers

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The Mormon trail was almost 1,300 miles long and crossed great plains, rugged lands, and the Rocky Mountains. The pioneers mostly traveled the Mormon trail by foot as they pushed handcarts or drove wagons pulled by a team of oxen to carry their meager possessions.

Take a tour of the Mormon trail by following this map of The Pioneer Story. The trail runs from Nauvoo, Illinois to the Great Salt Lake Valley. The story has great details of each stop along the way including excellent journal entries from actual pioneers.

Death and Hardship on the Mormon Trail

All along the Mormon trail, and during the years that the pioneers traversed this great trek west, hundreds of Saints of all ages, especially the young and elderly, died from hunger, cold, sickness, disease, and exhaustion.1 Countless stories have been told and recorded of the trials and tribulations of the Mormon pioneers. Nevertheless, the Saints remained faithful and continued forward with "faith in every footstep."2

Pioneers Arrive in Salt Lake Valley

On July 24, 1847, the first pioneers finally reached the end of the Mormon trail. Led by Brigham Young they came out of the mountains and looked down upon the Salt Lake Valley. Upon seeing the valley President Young declared, "This is the right place."3 The Saints had been led to a place where they could live in safety and worship God according to their beliefs without the overwhelming persecution they'd faced in the east.

From 1847 to 1868, about 60,000-70,000 pioneers traveled from Europe and the Eastern US to join the Saints in the Great Salt Lake Valley, which later became part of the state of Utah.

The West Was Settled

Through hard work, faith, and perseverance the pioneers irrigated and cultivated the desert climate of the west. They built new cities and temples, including the Salt Lake Temple, and continually prospered.

Under Brigham Young's direction over 360 settlements were established by the Mormon pioneers throughout Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, and California.4 Eventually the pioneers also settled in Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Texas, and Wyoming.5

Of the Mormon pioneers President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

"Those pioneers who broke the sunbaked soil of the Mountain West valleys came for one reason only—'to find,' as Brigham Young is reported to have said, 'a place where the devil can't come and dig us out.' They found it, and against almost overwhelming adversities they subdued it. They cultivated and beautified it for themselves. And with inspired vision they planned and built a foundation that blesses members throughout the world today." 6

Led by God

The pioneers were led by God as they traveled along the Mormon trail, reached the Salt Lake Valley, and established themselves.

Elder Russel M. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:

"President Joseph F. Smith, who walked the pioneer trail to Utah as a nine-year-old boy, said in the April 1904 general conference, 'I firmly believe [that] the divine approval, blessing and favor of Almighty God... has guided the destiny of His people from the organization of the Church until the present... and guided us in our footsteps and in our journeyings into the tops of these mountains.' Our pioneer ancestors sacrificed virtually all they had, including their lives in many cases, to follow a prophet of God to this chosen valley." 7

Pioneer Day

July 24th is the day the first pioneers emerged from the Mormon trail into the Salt Lake Valley. Members of the Church worldwide remember their pioneer heritage by celebrating Pioneer Day on July 24th each year.

The pioneers were a people dedicated to the Lord. They suffered, worked hard, and even when under severe persecution, difficulty, and hardship they never gave up.


  1. James E. Faust, "A Priceless Heritage," Ensign, Jul 2002, 2–6.
  2. Robert L. Backman, "Faith in Every Footstep," Ensign, Jan 1997, 7.
  3. See Profile of Brigham Young
  4. Glen M. Leonard, "Westward the Saints: The Nineteenth-Century Mormon Migration," Ensign, Jan 1980, 7.
  5. The Pioneer Story: Trail Location Great Salt Lake Valley- Emigration Square
  6. "The Faith of the Pioneers," Ensign, Jul 1984, 3.
  7. M. Russell Ballard, "Faith in Every Footstep," Ensign, Nov 1996, 23.
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Your Citation
Bruner, Rachel. "Mormon Trail of the Pioneers." Learn Religions, Feb. 8, 2021, Bruner, Rachel. (2021, February 8). Mormon Trail of the Pioneers. Retrieved from Bruner, Rachel. "Mormon Trail of the Pioneers." Learn Religions. (accessed February 8, 2023).