Cable Mountain offers one of the most remarkable views into Zion Canyon, and an interesting history to match. Named for the historic Cable Mountain Draw Works that was created at the turn of the 20th century to source lumber from the pine forests on the east rim of Zion to the canyon floor, hikers willing to make the fairly remote trek can see the original structure at the top of Cable Mountain. The Draw Works is listed in the 1978 National Register of Historic Places.
Why such historic notoriety? Mormon leader Brigham Young predicted in 1863 that some day lumber would be moved “as the hawk flies” from Cable Mountain. In 1901 his prophesy was fulfilled by David Flanigan , a Springdale pioneer, who engineered the cableworks that lowered lumber 2,000+ feet to the canyon floor below in two minutes. A wagon trip to transport the same load would have taken three days—sometimes up to 10 days round trip. The wood mechanism was nearly destroyed by a lightening fire in 1911, and again in the 1920s but was rebuilt each time because the method was so efficient.
The system operated as a single rope tramway with a breaking mechanism, and a continuous wire cable that ran between the structure on top of Cable Mountain and a pair of towers on the Zion Canyon floor. By 1927, hundreds of thousands of board feet of lumber from Cable Mountain had been transported into Zion Canyon. Occasionally, the draw works were used to transport goods, people—and even a dog!
Cable Mountain Draw Works went defunct in 1927 when the lumber supply was depleted. The towers and cable were removed from the canyon floor but the original structure remains at the top of Cable Mountain. A recent project overseen by master carpenters and park archeologists has been successful in stabilizing the worst of the weathered and deteriorated parts of the original draw works.
These days, Cable Mountain often attracts only the most determined hikers thanks to the long, strenuous hiking options of 15 miles round trip from the Weeping Rock Trailhead in Zion National Park, or the less scenic and even longer 17.5-mile hike from the east entrance. However there’s a third, less strenuous option—one of Zion’s best-kept secrets—available right from Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort! Hikers can avoid the thousands of feet in elevation gain by beginning the hike to Cable Mountain from our property and entering Zion National Park from the east. This route also cuts the hike nearly in half to less than eight miles round trip, making it more accessible to hikers and winter cross country skiers who wish to experience this restored historic structure and the remarkable views that surround it.