Red rock formations are everywhere in and around St. George, described by mid-century 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.”
Early territorial scout and church leader Parley P. Pratt chimed in with his own view of our red rock terrain, calling our beautiful landscape, “… a wide expanse of chaotic matter presenting itself [as] huge hills, sandy deserts; cheerless, grassless plains; perpendicular rocks, loose barren clay, dissolving beds of sandstone … lying in inconceivable confusion – in short, a country in ruins dissolved by the pelting of a storm of ages, or turned inside out, upside down by terrible convulsions in some former age.”
No question, we have plenty of everything Brother Parley and Juanita Brooks saw, including huge lava flows at the base of Pine Valley Mountain and several (hopefully) extinct volcanoes, clearly visible along Hwy. 18. To the east of the Hurricane Cliffs are the colorful mesas and plateaus of Zion National Park, described by modern-day writers as, “famed steep-walled and narrow canyons carved by low volume streams with intermittent flow but carrying loads of abrasive silt and sand.”
In any direction, you’ll also see evidence of ancient land movement and erosion creating such distinctive landmarks as our amazing Snow Canyon State Park (featured in the blockbuster Hollywood version of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” as well as an internet presence created by The Piano Guys), 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).
In a word, local residents and thousands of annual visitors call our area, “spectacular!” so, we think at least a portion of every vacationer’s time in this part of the world should be spent exploring any – or all of the following – state and national parks, most which can be found within a short driving distance - in all directions - from your vacation resort rental:
Anasazi State Park Museum is in the state park on the northeastern end of Scenic Byway 12. Visitors here will have a chance to learn more about the ancient Indians that lived in this area as long back as 1050 A.D. The museum has artifacts and exhibits that will help visitors understand ancient Indian culture and life. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of a partially excavated village.
Bryce Canyon National Park is about two and half hours away from St. George. It is best known for its natural amphitheaters with human-like spires of red rock with green pine trees lining the rims.
Capitol Reef National Park is along Utah’s Scenic Byway 12. It is full of mountains and ridges of multi-colored rock.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is near Cedar City. It has multicolored rock formations and mountains that span almost three miles and reach depths of 2,000 feet.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is a Utah State Park near Kanab which is east of St. George. The sand dunes are formed by rust colored sand and accented by desert shrubs and plants.
The Escalante Petrified Forest State Park is near Escalante along Scenic Byway 12. Pieces of petrified wood, bones, and other materials are scattered throughout the area.
The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Escalante along Scenic Byway 12 is a relatively new area designated as a national monument. It features cliffs that appear as a stairs as they descend from the Aquarius Plateau to the Grand Canyon.
The Iron Mission State Park in Cedar City commemorates history of the area during the mid to late 1800s. Originally Mormon settlers were sent here to mine iron, and the park features equipment and information about this history.
The Squaw Trail is on BLM owned land but is managed by the City of Kanab. It provides access to an outlook with spectacular views in all directions of the area.
Kodachrome Basin State Park is near Bryce Canyon National Park and is best know for its petrified geysers that were preserved as they blasted through layers of sediment and were filled up again by rock while the surrounding material eroded away. The National Geographic Society helped give the area the name of Kodachrome because it felt that it is a gorgeous area.
Kolob Canyon is the western canyon of Zion National Park; it is accessed by Interstate 15 north of St. George. Wondrous rock hoodoos with whimsical shapes are found throughout this beautiful canyon.
Minersville Reservoir State Park is near Beaver, UT which is north of St. George. People typically come here to boat, fish, swim, and camp.
A good portion of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is actually in Utah. Since it is harder to access than the typical tourist sites, it is a great place to admire the beauty of the area without the crowds.
Pipe Springs National Monument is in Arizona. It mainly commemorates the history of Ancestral Puebloans and Kaibab Paiute Indians along with some Mormon pioneer history since these groups had significant influence on the development of the area.
Snow Canyon is one of Utah’s most beautiful state parks. Both ends of the canyon are a few minutes away from downtown St. George to the north and west of town. The canyon is known for its red, orange, and pink rocks. It even has an arch. People enjoy exploring the park by foot and bike using its pathway system.
Valley of Fire State Park is between St. George and Las Vegas and is only six miles away from Lake Mead. It is a beautiful area of red, pink, and orange rocks accented by desert plants and shrubs. Remnants of ancient Indians like the Basket Weaver people and Anasazi Pueblo Indians can be found here since they lived here long before.
Zion National Park is northeast of St. George. The entrances to Zion Canyon near Springdale and Kolob Canyon on Interstate 15 are both between 45 minutes to an hour away from the city. The national park is one of the top ten most visited in the National Park Service system since about 3 million people visit it annually.