The construction of the Y Mountain in Provo, Utah is significant to the history and culture of Brigham Young University and Provo.

In the early 1900s, a common Latter-day Saint legend described how settlers in Provo were told by Native Americans that they had seen angels who declared that the people in this town would be blessed. Some of those blessings came about through Provo’s Y Mountain. In 1906, the Junior Class of BYU wanted to paint "‘07" on the mountain, upsetting members of the senior class. The President of Brigham Young University at the time, George H. Brimhall, and Brigham Young High School Principal Edwin S. Hinckley settled the argument by deciding that the letters “BYU” would be painted on the mountain. After 6 hours of painting, only the “Y” was completed, so the two other letters “B” and “U” were forgotten, the full plan discontinued. After the completion of the “Y,” students hiked up the mountain annually to re-paint the Y, creating a BYU Y Day tradition. More traditions and plans for the Y mountain would follow for the city of Provo, Utah and its residents.

The mountain plays an important role in BYU culture and the culture in Provo, Utah. It is the site of many traditions, such as lighting the Y for the holidays, BYU Homecoming, or the success of a school sports team. The tradition of lighting up the Y began in 1924. Another tradition for the incoming Freshman class at BYU involves dedicating a day for a Y mountain hike to celebrate their becoming a BYU Cougar. This tradition has carried through the years. Y mountain has been a symbol for Brigham Young University and the city of Provo, serving as one of the areas main tourist attractions. The traditions that revolve around the Y are important to BYU and Provo culture.


Y Mountain
Y Mountain A home near the foot of Y mountain. Source: "Y Mountain." ca. 1906-1920. L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Y Mountain, 2018.
Y Mountain, 2018. Y Mountain in 2018, showing housing developments and electric utility poles and that surround the mountain. Source: Photographed by author, Kayla M. Beck.
Y Mountain, 2019
Y Mountain, 2019 This picture shows the snowy Y Mountain from the perspective of BYU campus, behind the Engineering Building. Source: Photographed by author, Kayla M. Beck.



Kayla M. Beck, Brigham Young University, “Y Mountain,” Intermountain Histories, accessed July 22, 2024,