“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).