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    Saint George, the “Dixie” of Utah between canyons and red rock parks

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    Joel Fulleda

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    St. George in Utah represents an excellent strategic point for all those who give Las Vegas begin on park tours between Utah and Arizona, but also for those who have planned a visit to northern Utah: St. George is in fact developed on I-15, that road that goes from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City and then continues up Idaho to Montana, on the border with Canada. From this point of view, St. George can also be a useful stop for those returning from visiting Yellowstone and need to find a place to sleep before reaching Nevada or Arizona.

    What must be emphasized, however, is that it would be a shame to consider this small Mormon town known as Dixie (we will see later why!), there are so many natural beauty that surround it: having some time available, the ideal would be to stay two nights on the town and explore the area, letting yourself be hypnotized by the bright red color of the strange rock shapes that surround it. In this article you will find all the excursions which in my opinion is worth doing around St. George: some parks are well known so much that they don't need an introduction, but others are real hidden gems that only the locals know!



    • Map of St. George
    • Possible excursions from St. George
      • The Ut-9, Zion and Bryce Canyon
      • Valley of Fire
      • Snow Canyon State Park
      • Snow Canyon Overlook
      • Sand Hollow State Park
      • Kanarraville Falls
    • Attractions and itineraries in the city
      • St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site
      • St. George Utah Temple
      • Red Hill Desert Garden
      • Pioneer Park
      • Chuckwalla Trail
    • Where to eat?
    • Where to sleep?

    Map of St. George

    Possible excursions from St. George

    From Zion National Park to Snow Canyon State Park, passing through hidden gems to most, here are the most interesting excursions from St. George in Utah e in Nevada.

    The Ut-9, Zion and Bryce Canyon


    Let's start with one of the most beautiful scenic roads in the United States: the UT-9  starts just a few miles from St. George (8 miles north, to be exact, although the most interesting stretch originates in La Verkin, 12 miles northeast), turning off I-15 at Exit 16. This road leads to Springdale, the main gateway to Zion National Park, but it doesn't end there: traveling the UT-9 is also the most scenic (but not the fastest) way to cover the entire distance between St. George and Bryce Canyon. There are many things to see along this street: from the ghost town Grafton to the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, the scenic drive for a fee (but not for those with the parks card) that crosses a secondary section of the Zion along the North Fork of the Virgin River, offering unforgettable views: one above all the Checkerboard Mesa. To find out more, read our article dedicated to the UT-9 Parkway.

    The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway then joins US-89 N which, through the Red Canyon, will lead you to the Bryce Canyon. If you want to save some time, from St. George you can take I-15 to Cedar City and then reach Bryce via UT-14, but it is a choice that I do not recommend: it is not worth giving up the beauty of the UT-9 to save only half an hour of time. Wake up a little earlier and go on a real on the road!

    • Distance from St. George
      • entrance to the UT-9: 25 minutes
      • Zion National Park (Springdale and Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy entrance): 1 hour
      • Bryce CanyonStk #: 2.45 ore tramite UT-9; 2.20 ore tramite I-15 N e UT-14 E

    Valley of Fire

    Another park that needs no introduction: reachable thanks to a short detour from I-15, la Valley of Fire is a classic of nature excursions from Las Vegas. The distance from St. George is 90 miles, which may encourage you to choose the town as an intermediate stop to rest after your visit. The Valley of Fire is a state park and therefore requires a small entrance fee, but I assure you that it is worth every dollar spent: walking the Valley of Fire Highway is a unique experience that allows you to immerse yourself in a panorama of curious natural monuments that they suddenly emerge in the frame of a red-hot red rock desert. There are also some fairly short paths that lead to very suggestive observation points: one above all the Fire Wave, an expanse of undulating rock reminiscent of the famous The Wave of Vermilion Cliffs, which however is far more remote and difficult to reach. To find out how to organize the visit, read our article dedicated to the Valley of Fire.

    • Distance from St. George: 1.30 hours

    Snow Canyon State Park

    Lo Snow Canyon State Park it is decidedly less known than the Valley of Fire, but it is practically the most famous natural attraction of St. George, where both hikers and local bikers love to go for physical activity: after all, how can you contradict them? It doesn't happen every day to train on the paths of a red rock canyon! There are two entrances to the park: thesouth entrance it can be reached directly from the city, along the Snow Canyon Road. That north it can be reached easily along Bluff Street and UT-18 N: after 11 miles you will find a sign indicating the entrance to the park, but I also recommend that you reach the viewpoint Snow Canyon Scenic Overlook, which is also on UT-18, about a mile before the left turn into the park.

    • Distance from St. George: 20 min.

    What to see in Snow Canyon State Park in 2 o 3 ore? There are some fairly simple trails to take:

    • Petrified Dunes: the park's best-known excursion is to climb these petrified and polished red sandstone dunes. You can wander here and there, looking for the most beautiful of the unusual rock formations. These mounds can be reached via the Butterfly Trail, a beautiful panoramic path that connects the parking area to the dunes.
    • Jenny’s Canyon: it is a short and very simple path within a strait slot canyon. Along the way you will also reach an observation point on the dunes.
    • Lava Tubes: a 2.5 mile long trail that leads close to some lava tunnel which can only be explored if you are in possession of a flashlight.
    • White Rock Amphitheater: although it can be reached from the main road (UT-18), this beautiful scenery of smooth white rocks (accessible via an agile trail) is part of the Snow Canyon and requires payment of the entrance fee.

    Although it is in the immediate vicinity of the Snow Canyon, you won't have to pay anything to see the Cinder Cone, a volcanic cone belonging to the nearby Santa Clara Volcano and responsible for the copious lava flows that have affected the area. The trail starts from the parking lot on the side of UT-18 (just one mile past the park's north entrance) and is approximately 1.5 miles long. The climb is difficult and requires suitable shoes not to slip on the rocks.

    Snow Canyon Overlook

    Just under 3 miles after the volcanic cone, as you approach Dammeron Valley, you will find a turning on the left that leads to a large parking lot. From there begins a path that is called Red Mountain Trail: after approx two miles of fairly agile walking (some points are on sandy ground) you reach the connection with another path that leads to the most beautiful viewpoint on the Snow Canyon that I know. The route is well indicated, but you would do well to write down the name of the path so as not to risk losing it: Snow Canyon Overlook Trail. The trail takes an additional half mile of walking to the point of interest.

    • Distance from St. George: 25 min

    Sand Hollow State Park

    Although it has a somewhat high entry price, the Sand Hollow State Park can be called a distant cousin of the more spectacular Lake Powell. There are no sinuous meanders of Lake Page, but at sunset the blue waters of the lake create a splendid contrast with the delicate orange of the sand and with the warm colors of the red rocks illuminated by the sun. The panorama can be a little disturbed (also acoustically) by motorboats, but it remains a great place to cool off (the lake is suitable for swimming) and have a picnic immersed in nature. The park is located in the locality Hurricane, 18 miles from St. George: the exit to take is number 16, the same that will then take you on UT-9 towards Zion.

    • Distance from St. George: 25 approximately minutes

    Kanarraville Falls

    Finally, a gem that is suitable for those who love trails and excursions in the most remote canyons: the Kanarraville Falls they are located 40 miles north of St. George on I-15 in Kanarraville, near the section of the Zion called Kolob Canyons. It is a path in the canyon along a stream that includes some passages in the water (it is impossible to come out dry): there are also waterfalls that make it more adventurous. I recommend: you need clothing and shoes suitable for water, a bit like in the case of The Narrows (Zion). The paid permit is mandatory and can be purchased here. The itinerary takes about 3 hours and is suitable for those with excellent preparation, while it is not recommended for small children.

    • Distance from St. George: About 1 hour

    Attractions and itineraries in the city

    Here what to see in St. George without making too much effort when traveling by car.

    St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site

    Let's go back to the city, to talk about what is perhaps the most interesting attraction outside the natural parks. It is a small museum that offers visitors some dinosaur traces preserved in excellent condition. The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site it is paid but if you have children I advise you not to charge too much their expectations because they could be a little disappointed by what is offered.

    St. George Utah Temple

    As anticipated, St. George is home to a large community of Mormons: as in the case of Salt Lake City, it can be curious to go and browse from the outside to observe the majesty of the lives, but the interior is only accessible to those who participate in religious rites. The monument is located in 250 E 400 S.

    Red Hill Desert Garden

    In the immediate vicinity of the center, in 375 Red Hills Pkwy, on the hill overlooking St. George, there is an interesting free botanical garden: the Red Hill Desert Garden. For those who do not have time to make more challenging excursions, it is absolutely advisable to spend half an hour to observe the desert flora in the usual context of red rock. In addition to enjoying the many colors of the desert flowers, it is also possible to see a large number of aquatic plants and fish in the garden pond, moreover via a small underwater observatory. Here you can also meet desert turtles!

    • Distance from St. George: 5 min

    Pioneer Park

    Virtually adjacent to the St. George's botanical garden is the Pioneer Park, an area of ​​natural interest that looks a bit like the “summa” in minor of all the geological peculiarities of the area. If you are in St. George with your family I recommend that you join it and visit it in combination with the botanical garden: without any effort you can take short walks among the rocks peering at small sandstone arches and venturing into short slot canyons in search of observation points best on the city and on the distant peak of Signal Peak. The various points of the park can be reached by car via a short loop and picnic tables are available (in the shade, of course!)

    • Distance from St. George: 5 min
    After having covered the Loop, go back to street level (Red Hills Parkway): you will see that one of the rocks hanging over the road has a white writing “Dixie”. As you may know, this name is usually referred to the Southern States: the locals have affectionately renamed their town in this way due to the high temperatures that are recorded there (and I can testify to you ...!). This type of "signal" is not the only one: on another hill in St. George stands a large white D, which is there to reaffirm the concept.

    Chuckwalla Trail

    Il Chuckwalla Trail it is a somewhat more demanding type of excursion than the Pioneer Park but it remains ideal for families, so much so that it is famous for being one of the most traveled in the whole Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. It is also populated by climbers, who are not uncommon to see trying their hand at one of the walls on the path. Its strong point lies in its location: it is practically at the beginning of Bluff Street, on a hill just above the residential area of ​​St. George. A path winds from the parking lot that cuts through the low vegetation and allows visitors to venture among the red rocks in search of large lizards which give the path its name. The Chuckwalla Trail provides a connection with other trails further away from the parking lot, which I recommend you do only if the day is not particularly hot.

    • Distance from St. George: 5 min

    Where to eat?

    From direct experience, I can say that I had a good meal for a reasonable price at the rich buffet of Chuck-A-Rama (127 Red Cliffs Dr): I have lasting memories of their prime rib in barbecue sauce!

    Where to sleep?

    As I said at the beginning of the article, St. George it is often interpreted as an important stage of passage between Las Vegas and the Zion or the Bryce: for this reason, as in any self-respecting provincial town, motels of all the chains and superior category hotels flock.

    Here are some recommended accommodations:

    • The Chalet: a traditional motel that cares about aesthetics: this is how I would describe it The Chalet. On one of our trips we stopped here and we were very happy, both for cleaning and for setting up the room, very large and spacious. Around there are restaurants, cafes and supermarkets suitable for anyone who wants to refresh themselves after the fatigue of the journey!
    • Inn on the Cliff: a little out of the center is this hotel with an exceptional panoramic view. Many rooms in fact have a balcony and windows overlooking the city framed by the red rocks typical of the area. Breakfast is served in your room. The presence of a restaurant, but above all the seasonal swimming pool and Jacuzzi with a view… ideal for relaxing the evening before a well-deserved rest.
    • Red Mountain Resort: practically at the foot of the Snow Canyon, the enchanting Red Mountain Resort it is designed for those who are not satisfied with the classic motel passing through. The services offered by this structure with garden, swimming pool and hot tubs are of a higher level, the rooms are well furnished and equipped with a fireplace for the colder seasons. The position is enviable: on your left you will see the imperious red Red Mountain.

    The only additional advice I can give is to consider a accommodation with swimming pool, because in the summer the heat is really suffocating.

    All St. George's Pool Accommodations

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