The town of Parowan was founded in 1851 in the valley called Parowan Valley, and at the mouth of a canyon also named Parowan Canyon. Mountains to the east rise to 10,000 feet in elevation, capped by Brian Head at 11,307 feet, located at the top of Parowan Canyon. The mountains are covered with beautiful forests, striking black lava flows and impressive cliffs and rock formations. The Cedar Breaks National Monument sports several miles of colored cliffs high in the mountains, not far from Brian Head. The Brian Head Ski Resort is also located up Parowan Canyon.
Parowan itself lies at 5,990 feet in elevation, at the edge of a valley of farmland and ranches. Sagebrush and grassland are the prominent features of the country surrounding the town. Parowan is dominated by residential areas with very little commercialization. Typical of Mormon-settled towns, its streets are wide and straight, laid out in a carefully planned grid. An abundance of trees growing throughout the town set it off from its surroundings.
Parowan is the oldest settlement in southern Utah, being settled just four years after the first arrival of pioneers in Salt Lake City. The discovery of minerals in the vicinity led to its establishment as an industrial center. Little remains of this now. Parowan’s history is documented by an impressive number of historic markers throughout the town. The name is an Indian word meaning “evil water”, referring to the nearby Little Salt Lake (which has now gone dry). The population is 2,565, as of the 2000 census.
Interstate 15 passes by Parowan. U.S. Highway 91 was the main route through the valley before the freeway, and it passed through the center of Parowan. Different parts of it now have state highway designations. State Highway 143 goes up Parowan Canyon, past Cedar Breaks Monument and Panguitch Lakes, to its ending at Panguitch on the other side of the mountains.