We were on a road trip through southern Utah, just about three hours south of Salt Lake City, when we spied an enticing billboard on the side of the road – “Best Cinnamon Rolls in the West – Next Exit turn right!” We couldn’t resist and so we turned right into Parowan to discover a little bit of Utah history and a town dedicated to fulfilling our desires for something ooey, gooey, and sweet. And, as I walked down a street lined with quaint homes and small businesses, I found the Parowan Utah B&B owned by Meri Brown of TV’s Sister Wives, the drama-filled backstory well-known to fans of the reality show.
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The Parowan Utah Cinnamon Roll Experience
It was easy to find Main Street in this small Iron County town. Our first stop was the Visitors Center housed in a historic brick building. On entering we found that this place was much more than a place to get information. It was a fully-stocked souvenir shop with goods from the local area and the starting point for the “Parowan Sweet Tour,” which takes visitors from business to business to find the best cinnamon rolls (even cinnamon churros) and sweets of all kinds.
Also of interest in Parowan is the Old Rock Church Museum where you’ll get a good sense of local Mormon pioneer history. The original church, or meetinghouse, was founded in 1851. Inside you’ll find photographs, old farm implements, and household items from the 1850s. Outside, you'll notice that there are two entrances, originally one for women and one for men.
Since we were ready to sit down and enjoy a cinnamon roll, we opted to go directly over to the Parowan Café across the street. Friendly and family-owned, the café was ideal for our first taste of a Parowan cinnamon roll. We were ushered to a large table at the back, ideal for families, and looked over the menu. Breakfast items galore were listed but we all wanted the hot, gooey, cinnamon rolls.
And the rolls didn’t disappoint. They were hot out of the oven, slathered with icing and butter, and smelled heavenly. We left the café determined to write about our experience and let others know that yes, they should “turn right at the next exit.”
Sister Wife’s B&B Discovery
For those who have watched the tales of the polygamist Brown family on TV, Meri Brown’s trials and tribulations in trying to get her polygamist husband, Kody, and multi-wife family on board with purchasing the B&B in Parowan covered several episodes. You see, the lovely yellow farmhouse was part of Meri’s family heritage and it came up for sale. She is the great-great-granddaughter of the original owner and the Inn is named after her great-grandmother, Lizzie.
Ultimately, Meri was able to purchase the B&B and her mother, Bonnie, moved in to provide a family presence. It was the B&B, named Lizzie’s Heritage Inn, that I encountered just a few blocks from Main Street. It looked like an ideal place to stay, especially for lovers of cinnamon rolls and small-town charm. This year, after the unexpected death of Meri’s mother, the Inn was closed for several weeks. Recently Meri Brown announced that the Inn would re-open and would feature a room named after Bonnie. Meanwhile, Kody and his Sister Wives moved from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, Arizona. The Inn remains under Meri’s ownership and it's clear the home represents treasured family history to her.
And for those who are interested in Utah’s polygamist history, you’ll be interested to know that some of these large families settled in Iron County. As you travel back roads, you’ll often see large homes with multiple entrances and large garages. Utah law has decriminalized polygamy, but only recently. This is one reason the Browns moved to Flagstaff. Will they now return to Utah?
Parowan Gap Petroglyphs
Just outside of Parowan, you’ll see an impressive gap in the rocky landscape. In fact, it is said that you can see all the way to Arizona through the Parowan Gap. The narrow, 500-foot deep pass through the Navajo sandstone is only wide enough for a two-lane highway.
The BLM has constructed a handy pull-out and interpretive signs so that you can spend some time looking at the amazing petroglyphs. In addition to the petroglyphs, you can find dinosaur tracks one mile east of the Gap.
So what do they mean? No one really knows, so the BLM has put together the traditions as told by both the Paiutes, who live in the western states, and the Hopi, who live in Arizona. The petroglyph site remains sacred to both tribes.
Centuries ago, native people traveled through this gap and left markings etched into the rock. You can easily walk the trail to see the petroglyphs.
When You Take a Road Trip Through Southern Utah
Parowan Utah is about an hour’s drive from Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon and two hours from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is also not far from Brian Head, the ski area. The town makes for an ideal stopping point on your travels to these scenic places. See our Wander articles on The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks, Salt Lake City, and more Utah attractions. For more travel inspiration, send for a free Grand Circle Travel Planner (or download the pdf) which includes this area.