The entire Spanish Trail ran between Santa Fe and Los Angeles over a circuitous 1,200 mile northward-looping course traversing six modern day states. Traveled by traders, trappers, horse dealers, Indians and slavers, the trail was most actively used from 1829 to 1848 when it was the main corridor through the Southwest. After 1848 Mormon pioneers developed the western portion of the trail for wagon travel between Salt Lake City and southern California. Las Vegas was eventually settled as a way station and supply point on this vitally important route as were the towns of San Bernardino, Saint George and Cedar City.
The following passage from the 1940 WPA Guide to Nevada still describes this section of the trip accurately, capturing the essence and beauty of the harsh yet beautiful desert landscape:
"The highway crosses the extreme southern tip of Nevada, where some ranching areas lie hidden behind starkly eroded foothills, and beyond stretches of rolling desert. Weird, beautiful formations of the kind characteristic of the Grand Canyon country are seen throughout. The highway follows the Virgin River for ten miles, crosses the Muddy River just west of Glendale, and continues through awe-inspiring terrain. High, rugged mountains are visible on both sides above a valley floor with vegetation including cacti, joshua trees, and Spanish bayonet. The route roughly follows the old Spanish Trail, which in this section became part of the Mormon Road to Southern California."