The fifth, and final, season of the HBO TV show “Big Love” kicked off on January 16, 2011. Big Love is about a polygamist family with 3 wives and multiple children. No, it’s not Warren Jeffs but pretty dang close.
If you haven’t seen it before, Big Love takes place in Utah. The executive producers, who were also co-creators, are Will Scheffer and Mark Olsen. Olsen and Scheffer spent over two years researching polygamy and Utah prior to launching the show in 2006. A goal of the show creators was to be fair in their portrayal of the polygamist lifestyle – including it’s place in Utah culture.
The show is a bit controversial in Utah, as you can imagine. But, we don’t want to get into all that in this blog post. What we do want to answer is the question we get asked every once in a while. Specifically, “Where is the fictional Juniper Creek polygamy compound really located in Utah?”
Well, most people think it’s pretty obvious Juniper Creek and the polygamous sect in Big Love is based on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The remote FLDS polygamous communities in real life are the Utah-Arizona border towns Hilldale, UT and Colorado City, AZ. They are often referred to as “the twin towns”.
In fact, Olsen was cited in a Salt Lake Tribune article as saying that he ”actually had the nerve to drive, very quickly, through Colorado City. We drove in, chickened out and drove right out again.”
While the actual towns of Colorado City and Hilldale aren’t as scary as Olsen’s quote makes them seem, they aren’t exactly tourist attractions either. They don’t get many outsiders, with the exception of filling up with gas or grabbing a quick bite to eat near the highway exit.
St. George, Utah (Find St. George Lodging) is the largest city near Colorado City and Hilldale. It’s about an hour drive to get to or from the “twin polygamy towns” from St. George.