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Category: history

In Utah, there are two major July holidays … two days to leave the stresses of the workplace behind to play in the sunshine; enjoy friends and family; or take a long nap in the hammock!  The Fourth of July, as everyone knows is the day the final wording was approved for the Declaration of Independence and the official celebration of America’s birthday.

But, for those who live outside of the Beehive State, the 24th of July is officially called Pioneer Day … which celebrates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.  Pioneer Day is generally a day of parades, fireworks, rodeos, and other festivities in most of Utah and in parts of neighboring states with strong LDS populations, which help commemorate the event. And, be aware most government offices and many business are closed.  Although the holiday has strong links to the LDS Church, it is officially a celebration of everyone, regardless of faith and nationality, who are or consider themselves to be pioneers.

If you are vacationing in Southern Utah in July, you are invited to take part in our celebration of America’s independence or of our pioneer heritage.  Register today online for a beautiful, comfortable and affordable vacation resort rental at St. George Resort Rentals at www.stgeorgeresortrentals.com  or at www.laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.   We can’t wait to meet you … or welcome you back!

In the early 1990’s, a committee was formed in Washington County, UT with a mission to create a plan to protect the endangered Mojave desert tortoise, threatened by rapid development and habitat loss here in southwestern Utah.  The committee included members of the Washington County Commission, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, the Washington County School District, environmental and equestrian groups, local land developers and government officials from around Southern Utah, Salt Lake City and even from Washington, DC.

Their combined efforts resulted in plenty of media attention – some positive, some not so much – but also a lot of gaffaws and chortles from the community and many disgruntled and unbelievably vile letters to the editor of the local newspaper.  “Why spend all this time and money to protect the descendants of turtles my grandparents brought home to St. George in the trunk of their car?” queried more than a few.  “They’re not anymore native to this area than some of our new residents,” said others. Ultimately, the Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) approved in 1996, created the Red Cliff Desert Reserve setting aside more than 62,000 acres of scenic wildlife and protection for the Mojave Desert tortoise and other rare plants and animals, at the merging of three ecosystems:  the Mojave desert, the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau.

Two decades later, the reserve contains – not homes, condominiums and golf courses – but, some of Washington County’s most spectacular scenery, the most northern healthy populations of the desert tortoise, Gila monster, sidewinder rattlesnake, and chuckwalla – as well as other reptiles, critters and plants, some which occur no where else in the world.

The Reserve, approximately 20 miles wide and 6 miles deep, spans the beautiful red rock country along both sides of the I-15 freeway in the north central portion of Washington County, north of Ivins, Santa Clara, St. George, Washington City; south of Leeds and west of Hurricane and LaVerkin. Accessible to hikers, bikers and horseback riders, the Reserve has many access points and trails leading to amazing recreational opportunities … and it has been many years, since anyone driving through our red rock country has done anything but smile at the beauty which has now been preserved for many future generations to enjoy.

Speaking of enjoyment, you can be certain to enjoy your beautiful home-away-from-home at St. George Resort Rentals or Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.  Register today online for a beautiful, comfortable and affordable vacation resort rental at stgeorgeresortrentals.com  or laspalmasresortcondos.com.   You’re going to like us … a lot!

“Show me one thing of beauty in the whole area and I’ll stay,” said pioneer bride Wilhemina Cannon to her husband David.  Longing for the green trees and rolling grassy hills of her childhood home, Wilhemina was not happy in the barren, stark and harsh desert of southern Utah, and had made up her mind.  She would not – could not – endure another miserably hot, insect infested, bone dry summer in this desolate place.

No question!  Geology, temperatures, and the problems associated with too much or too little water have shaped Utah’s Washington County, described in the History of Washington County:  From Isolation to Destination by Douglas A. Alder and Karl F. Brooks as “a region of colorful rocks, spectacular scenery and great contrasts in rainfall, vegetation, animal life and geologic features.” 

In any direction, you’ll see evidence of ancient land movement and erosion creating such distinctive landmarks as Pine Valley Mountain and the above-ground Hurricane Fault line which runs about 50 miles through the county (most visibly along the I-15 freeway and on both sides of the highway leading to the City of Hurricane). 

Red rock formations are everywhere in and around St. George, described by author Juanita Brooks as a place where “… the good Lord took everything left over from the creation, dumped it here, then set it on fire.”  We have evidence of huge lava flows at the base of Pine Valley Mountain and several extinct volcanoes, clearly visible along Hwy. 18.  To the east of the Hurricane Cliffs are the colorful mesas and plateaus of Zion National Park, with its famed steep-walled and narrow canyons carved by low volume streams with intermittent flow but carrying loads of abrasive silt and sand.  The St. George area also has the lowest elevations and the historic high temperature in the state (118 degrees on one July day in 2009).

Sand Hollow State Park

This gloriously beautiful state park is one of several manmade reservoirs designed to capture and preserve what little water falls from the heavens above here in our hot, dry, desert location.  Officially opened for public use in April 2003, Sand Hollow State Park surrounds the 1322-acre Sand Hollow Reservoir, which rapidly became a popular off-road site for fishing, boating and ATV riding on nearby sand dunes. 

You’ll find Sand Hollow State Park outside of the city of Hurricane, off Exit 16 of the I-15 freeway, but be warned … as is often the case for most of our outdoor recreation spots, you are likely to be extremely uncomfortable on the lake during the summer months of June, July and August when daytime temperatures generally reach 105-110 degrees.

Being uncomfortable is something you don’t need to worry about when you register online today for a clean, comfortable, and affordable vacation home-away-from-home at St. George Resort Rentals at stgeorgeresortrentals.com  or at laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.   We can’t wait to meet you … or welcome you back!

The cotton factory in Washington City is a clear reminder cotton was once a major industry in pioneer Dixie and the reason Brigham Young sent reluctant settlers to build homes and communities here in the southwestern-most corner of Utah.  Those hearty early pioneers – many who were originally southerners from such home states as Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee – brought cotton seed with them to this then-remote locale and began raising cotton in 1857, despite facing trials such as heat, thirst, disease and the constant need for repair to irrigation dams.  But while their crops thrived, the realities of transporting their heavy bales to northern Utah meant days – even weeks – away from their families, farms and church duties … and the cost, not just in time but in dollars and cents, was prohibitive.  Within a short period of time, it became evident the solution and the only effective way to keep cotton growing lucrative, was to build a factory nearer to the crop.

Brother Brigham decided the best way to bring his plan to fruition was to dismantle underutilized woolen milling machinery near Salt Lake City and transport it by wagons to Washington City.  Under the direction of Appleton Harmon, “the project was pursued with haste.”  The first floor of the factory was completed within a year, despite many of the pioneers who were involved at the time in the construction of the St. George Tabernacle as well as constructing dams, clearing land and building homes for their families. 

By 1868, the cotton factory was fully operational and within two years, a second floor was added using donated funds from the people who had plans to buy out Brigham Young, their benefactor.  But at the end of the Civil War, cotton flooded the market so growing it in this part of the country no longer made sense. After 30 years, the cotton factory was closed in the spring of 1898.

For decades, the cotton factory sat unused and fell into disrepair until the mid-1980’s when Norma Cannizzaro adopted the property and made its restoration her personal crusade. In her enthusiasm, she invested a considerable sum in repairing the exterior and renovating the interior as an events center, but nearly a decade later she admitted she could no longer support the project.

Hyrum and Gail Smith purchased the grounds in 1993 with plans to create a historical village with the cotton factory as its centerpiece. But, they too, encountered difficulties, forcing them to put the factory back on the market.

In 1998, Star Nursery, a successful local business, purchased the cotton factory to house its second St. George location. Star Nursery adapted the main floor of the building for its garden shop but carefully preserved the building’s pioneer construction, leaving the exterior and upper floors of the factory unchanged.  In support of the needs of the community, Star Nursery still makes the second floor available for public use and tours.

As vacationers here in southern Utah, it’s a sure bet you aren’t concerned about gardening, but a walk through the historic cotton factory is a must-do.  Another “must do” is to register online today for your beautiful, comfortable and affordable home-away-from-home at St. George Resort Rentals at stgeorgeresortrentals.com  or  laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums.   We look forward to seeing you.

Pictured: Close to Home … Our Own Spectacular National Parks, a juried, all media exhibit at the St. George Art Museum features what Utah tourism marketers have dubbed “the Mighty 5.”  Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks are considered the state’s top national parks, because they draw millions of visitors from around the world to enjoy the spectacular scenery, slot canyons, hoodoos, hiking, biking, rafting, exploring, stargazing … and a few of those visitors even schedule the opportunity to capture the amazing views with paint and canvass.

Here in Southern Utah we are particularly proud of these parks, two of which are not only “Close to Home,” but Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are right here in our own backyard.

We encourage you to drive the 50 miles from downtown St. George to view Zion National Park for yourself.  Bryce Canyon is a little further north, but definitely worth the trip. 

After your trip to one or all of these spectacular national treasures, stop by the St. George Art Museum where artistic depictions in a variety of mediums are available for you to relive your memories. 

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 47 E. 200 North.  There is a small admission fee, but your payment will help the museum continue toward their goal to purchase art for their permanent collection.

For those of you who are thinking about a vacation getaway not “Close to Home,” you’ll want to register online for a comfortable, affordable and beautiful vacation home-away-from-home.  See stgeorgeresortrentals.com for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. We’ll be waiting for you!

Looking for a pleasant day trip while visiting in St. George?  Try Cedar City, an easy 50-mile drive up the I-15 freeway.  Different in many ways from nearby St. George, Cedar City’s elevation is much higher, the population is much smaller and the weather is much cooler, but the people are just as nice and there’s plenty to see and do. 

Also known as the “festival city” as the home of the renowned, Emmy award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival, a visit to Cedar City would not be complete without a walkabout on the campus of Southern Utah University where The Bard’s works come to life throughout the summer theater season.  Even if there is nothing on stage, the grounds are amazing, including a completely new theater complex opening in the summer of 2016.

The Iron Gate Winery, a one-of-a-kind business in southern Utah located at 102 N. 200 West, offers tastings, tours of the wine production area, and sales of world-class wines made in Cedar City from grapes sourced from some of the finest California, Oregon and Washington vineyards.  The first and only winery and tasting room anywhere in this part of the state is open during the spring and summer each Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. while in the fall and winter months, the winery is open the same hours but only Thursday through Saturday.

A tour of Frontier Homestead State Park (formerly known as Iron Mission State Park) will provide visitors with up-close displays of turn-of-the-20th century pioneer artifacts, including horse-drawn vehicles and agricultural implements, a variety of craft demonstrations, rotating art exhibits, interpretive lectures, and guided tours. An iron industry exhibit displays a town bell, the only known artifact from the original foundry, as well as other items of interest including several historic cabins, a large collection of horse-drawn farm equipment, and a replicated pioneer household.

Another stop you’re certain to enjoy in nearby Cedar City is an easy one-mile hike to the Cascade Falls overlook on Cedar Mountain.  While this is considered a hike nearly anyone can manage, the trail elevation is about 8900 feet in altitude … and it is accessible only in the summer months when there is no threat of snowfall.

You are also certain to enjoy a drive – generally best seen from June through October – through the Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon State Park to Cedar Breaks National Monument, a natural amphitheater, stretching 3 miles across and about 2,000 feet deep. Remember though, for those who find it difficult to breath at high elevation, the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet above sea level.

You can always return to Cedar City If you haven’t crossed everything off your to-do list, but the best thing about daytrips is coming back at the end of the day to your comfortable and affordable home-away-from-home at St. George Resort Rentals or Five Season Vacation condominiums.  Register online today at stgeorgeresortrentals.com for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. We’ll be waiting for you!

This picturesque 240-acre reservoir, located 15 miles northwest of St. George off U. S. Highway 91, captures water from the Santa Clara River for irrigation and flood-control purposes in a majestic red rock and black lava rock setting.  Named after the nearby small community of Gunlock, the lake, created in 1970, is approximately 2 miles wide, about a half mile wide and reaches a depth of 115 feet.  Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy boating, windsurfing, waterskiing, personal watercrafts and great fishing for largemouth bass, black crappie, threadfin shad and channel catfish.  Because boating options are few in and around our high desert Southwestern Utah community, Gunlock is popular and usually very busy.  We suggest early- and late-season use when the sun is still comfortably warm.  You are also advised to avoid weekends and holidays at Gunlock for a much more enjoyable experience.  Be aware, there is an excellent boat ramp and port-a-potties available, but not much else.  So whenever you decide to visit Gunlock Reservoir State Park, be sure to bring along your sunscreen, a broad rimmed hat and a picnic lunch, including plenty of drinking water.

No need to fish around for a great deal on a comfortable resort rental for your next Southern Utah vacation.   

Whether you are here for a week or a month, we will be waiting to make you comfortable at the 5 Seasons Vacation condominiums and St. George Resort Rentals.  Register online today at stgeorgeresortrentals.com for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. 

The Hurricane Canal, which for more than 80 years carried Virgin River water from the “upriver” communities of Springdale, Rockville and Virgin to homes and farms on the Hurricane Bench, is an engineering miracle.  The story of its construction by second-generation settlers is one of backbreaking labor, creative innovation and sustained determination against the odds. 

The canal is a suspended rock-lined delivery channel on the hillside on your right, clearly visible to tourists and residents traveling to Zion National Park.  You may not recognize it as you motor through small communities and up the hill toward the park, but this 17.5-mile waterway was chipped through rock cliffs by 3 – 300 laborers using only picks and shovels – and an occasional blast of dynamite – to bring water to the parched Hurricane Valley.  Today, there are other water sources for farming and ranching in this part of Washington County, but it is thanks to a handful of visionary men committed to stay put and raise their families here that the Hurricane Canal was built.

The Hurricane Canal, dry since 1985, is now a pleasant and memorable hike.  There are places where the canal has been ravaged by years of neglect, and there are the anticipated critters along the way, so hikers should be alert but will certainly find lots to enjoy, including seashells along your way – left over from the ancient Lake Bonneville which millions of years ago covered this part of Utah to the tops of the mesas. 

A word of warning:  hiking the Hurricane Canal is not advised in the heat of the summer.  Despite its name and history, there is no water anywhere along the way.  Exploring the canal is something you will want to do on your vacation in Southern Utah, but it is best done in the cool part of the year (mid-November to mid-February) and always with reliable, close-toed shoes, a big brimmed hat and lots of bottled water.

No warning is necessary when it comes to finding a beautiful resort rental as your home-away-from-home when vacationing in St. George.  Whether you are here for a week or a month, we will be waiting to make you comfortable after your hiking adventure at the 5 Seasons Vacation condominiums and St. George Resort Rentals.  Register online today at stgeorgeresortrentals.com for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. 

The Arizona Strip is a 2-million acre section of northwestern Arizona, although in many respects it is more a part of Washington County, UT. The Arizona Strip, located between downtown St. George and the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park, provides prized grazing for sheep and cattle and located between downtown St. George and the Grand Canyon, has the lowest elevation and the highest temperatures in the state.  It is also a region of colorful rocks, breathtaking beautiful scenery, and impressive contrasts in terms of rainfall, vegetation, animal life and geology.

The Dixie Arizona Strip Interpretive Association (also known as DASIA), a non-profit organization which came into being in 1994, has a mission to enhance understanding of the Arizona Strip’s history and natural resources in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management in both Utah and Arizona, and the National Forest and National Park Service offices in southern Utah.

The DASIA office, located at 345 S. Riverside Drive,  oversees five wilderness areas, including the internationally known Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs, the Old Spanish National Historic Trail; nine Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, and two river segments suitable for Wild & Scenic River designation.  In these remote areas of the desert, there are approximately 4,000 miles of unpaved roads leading to spectacular scenic vistas, remoteness and solitude among rough scenic canyons and ponderosa pine forests.

DASIA’s on-site retail store also offers an assortment of interpretive resources, detailed maps, and souvenirs, while the Field Experience trip planning program can assist in your planning needs.

Speaking of planning, if you’re planning a vacation to southern Utah, you’ll need a comfortable home-away-from-home whether your time in the St. George area is a week or a month.  Register online today at stgeorgeresortrentals.com for accommodations at the St. George Resort Rentals or laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. 

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