By Kiara Bean, Editor-in-Chief
For the next few issues, we will be traveling across the beautiful state of Utah. One would think that we will go see Zion, Arches, and Bryce Canyon National Parks. But that’s not the case. I’m going to tell you about places which are as beautiful, if not more, but where you don’t have to look for a parking space, and you can enjoy the sound of nature and not the noise of other tourists.
Our first stop is the city of St. George in Utah and the surrounding area. St. George is in the southwest part of Utah, about five miles north of the Arizona border. It is a city with a population of about 100,000 people and has been growing rapidly for the past several years.
If you decide to visit St. George, make sure you plan your vacation based on what temperatures you like. Summers can get pretty hot, easily over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with higher humidity because of the monsoon season. On the plus side, you can experience some really cool lightning shows. If you don’t like the heat, you can plan to visit during autumn or winter, when temperatures drop to 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
St. George, as I already mentioned, is a fast-growing city with many new modern areas. However, there is still the beautiful historic downtown, where you can see some interesting architecture.
St. George was founded by pioneers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), as most of the cities in Utah were. One awe-inspiring building is the St. George Temple, which is the first LDS temple built in Utah. In November of 2021, the church will celebrate 150 years since the groundbreaking and site dedication in 1871. Four years later, the building was opened to the public. Since then, it has been renovated and refurbished many times, but its original grandeur has never changed.
Brigham Young was the second president of the LDS church, serving from 1847 until his death in 1877. Nicknamed “American Moses” for leading his followers to the “promised land”, Young had a huge impact on developing Utah by choosing the sites where the LDS pioneers settled. Young built his winter home in St. George. This home is now open for public viewing and is considered a sacred place for LDS church members.
If you’re not into historical buildings, St. George also offers some lovely local national parks where you can get in for a minimal fee or even for free. Red Hills Desert Garden is particularly unique, since it’s the first interactive desert garden built in Utah. Its landscape showcases water-efficient plants, endangered species, and a replica slot canyon. Visitors can learn about irrigation systems and proper watering techniques, and enjoy the beautiful colors of desert plants and red rocks.
If you’re a beginner rock-climber and you don’t need a steep cliff and thousands of feet under you, then nearby Pioneer Park (still in St. George) is the perfect place to get some light rock-climbing in. From the top of the red rocks, you can enjoy spectacular views of downtown St. George. You don’t have to feel sorry that you didn’t make it to Arches National Park because you can find your arch and get a picture under it in Pioneer Park. There is also the St. George Narrows, a very narrow walkway between two tall rock walls.
A little over ten miles north of St. George is Snow Canyon State Park. There, you can see not only beautiful quartzite and Navajo sandstone, but also lava flows. Yes, you read correctly. Utah actually has lava flows from the Santa Clara volcano. While walking the Lava Flow Trail, you can also explore the inside of a lava tube (a natural tunnel where lava once flowed, leaving behind a cave) and see incredible lava formations. Just make sure you bring a flashlight or headlamp (or several cell phones) if you plan to climb down as the inside is pitch dark, but 100% worth it.
The Butterfly Trail in Snow Canyon State Park offers majestic views of Petrified Sand Dunes. The trail ends with West Canyon Scenic Overlook, where you feel like you are on top of the world, and you can enjoy views of three different colored rock mountains. Don’t forget to also go to Snow Canyon Scenic Overlook; you can get some incredible pictures of Snow Canyon State Park. Remember to always carry a large water bottle with you, especially if you go during the summer.
If you get too hot during your summer trip, you can cool down in Sand Hollow Lake, which is about thirteen miles east of St. George. Or, if you want to drive a little bit further, Quail Creek State Park, which is about fifteen miles northeast of St. George, is also an excellent option. Both focus on different water activities such as boating, swimming, and fishing.
If you get hungry after all that climbing, swimming, or sightseeing, there are many places to eat in St. George, but I will introduce those in the next issue of Horizons, along with another city, on our trip through Utah.
1. Red Hills Desert Garden
2. Arch in Pioneer Park
3. St. George Temple
4. West Canyon Scenic Overlook
5. Snow Canyon State Park
6. Inside of a Lava Tube, Snow Canyon State Park
7. Quartzite, Navajo sandstone, and Lava Rock, Snow Canyon State Park
8. Snow Canyon Scenic Overlook
9. Sand Hollow Lake
10. Former Woodward School in Downtown St. George