In November of 1776 a party of Spanish explorers and Indian guides passed through this area on their way to the Zuni Mission in what is now New Mexico. Franciscan Fathers, Francisco Atanasio Dominquez and Silvestre Velez De Escalante, had embarked from Santa Fe with hopes of discovering an overland route to the presidio at Monterey. However, cold weather and rugged terrain forced them to turn south and return to Santa Fe. While they never succeeded in finding a shorter route to California, the priests explored much new territory in the present states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. They were the first Europeans to discover a usable crossing of the Colorado River after wandering for miles along the rim of the seemingly impassable Marble Canyon Gorge.
The explorers had attempted bringing the Christian religion to the Hopis in Oraibi; 100 miles west of here. Their conversion efforts were not well received; but they were saved from starving by the Hopis. They camped near this location on November 16, 1776 in a snowstorm. They had but one more days ride before reaching the familiar mission in Zuni, New Mexico.