On October 4, 1997, the LDS church had 50 operating temples, constructed over the span of 120 years. The announcement from President Gordon B. Hinckley on that day, that the church was going to begin building smaller temples, gave hope to many that they soon would be able to attend the temple near their home. The first three smaller temples announced were Anchorage, Alaska; Colonia Juarez, Mexico; and Monticello, Utah. The temple in Monticello was dedicated less than 10 months from the announcement, proving that this new style of temple would indeed be able to be built quickly and relatively cheaply. That October day marked an explosion in temple building, with 48 temples being dedicated in 1999-2000 alone. By the end of that year 2000, the church had over 100 temples in service, more than doubling the number available to members only three years earlier.
The Monticello temple could be considered nothing but a success, as it was so popular that an expansion was made just four years after it was dedicated, adding a second ordinance room, a second sealing room, and a laundry. Now the temple serves members throughout the Four Corners area, including two stakes in the Grand Junction, Colorado area.
The landscape in southeastern Utah is unlike any other. The arches, red rocks, deep canyons and rolling rivers make for a landscape so unique that it has been home to many western films and other movies looking to convey the beauty of the American southwest. Though Monticello is a small, sleepy little town of about 2,000, Moab is less than an hour to the north and is a local hub for outdoors activities of all types. There are many National and State Parks in the area, including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. But outside of the most famous attractions, there are still some amazing wonders to see. Just outside of Moab is a beautiful hike on the Mill Creek Waterfall Trail, which will reward your hiking with a secluded pool and waterfall. The road from Moab to Monticello has interesting things to see and do, including Newspaper Rock, a spot where Native Americans created works of art on the side of a rock. Also don't miss the kitchy but fun Hole N"The Rock, where you can see one man's quest to build a home out of the very rock. And if you are in Monticello, you can stop and shoot 18 holes at one of Utah's best golf courses, The Hideout Golf Club, located just a few minutes from the temple itself.
Monticello itself doesn't have a lot of options for food, but one of the best is the Peace Tree Juice Cafe, a great breakfast and lunch spot. If you are staying in Moab, which you probably should unless you really enjoy small town living, there are more options. Start your day off with some muffins from the Love Muffin Cafe. For lunch you may want to try the gourmet food truck Quesadilla Mobilla for great cheesy quesadillas. Or maybe Paradox Pizza, if you are feeling like some east-coast style pizza. For dinner, check out Moab's oldest restaurant, Milt's Stop and Eat. The kids will especially love this burger joint and their tremendous shakes.
Monticello may not be on many lists of tourist areas, but the surrounding area is so beautiful and unique that this temple is a must-visit. You won't find many other places on earth with this type of mind-blowing natural beauty.