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Located among the stunning red rock formations of southwest Utah, the city of St. George is a growing metropolis that makes an excellent home base to explore the region. There are numerous national and state parks nearby to soak up the natural wonders, and there are new breweries, rock climbing gyms, and restaurants popping up in town. Better yet, you can access the city within just a couple hours from Las Vegas. Check out these top things to do in St. George, Utah next time you’re in the region!
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Just a few miles north of St. George, you’ll find a wonderful state park called Snow Canyon State Park. This park is home to red sandstone cliffs, awe-inspiring rock layers, sand dunes, and volcanic cones. Hollywood movies have been filmed here, and camping is available for both tents and RVs. The park is part of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and has over 38 miles of hiking trails to explore. There are also equestrian trails and a three-mile paved trail for easy walking and biking. Snow Canyon was once inhabited by the Anasazi and Paiute Native Americans, but it became open to the public as a state park in 1962.
There’s a large red sandstone rock along Red Hills Parkway known as the Sugarloaf with big, white letters that say “Dixie.” This might be a perplexing thing to see since Dixie is most commonly associated with the American Southeast and not the West. However, pioneers came to this region in the 1800s and began producing cotton. Reminiscent of the pioneers’ homeland, they started calling the area Dixie, and you’ll find mention of this still today in the town’s hospitals and schools. The Dixie Sugarloaf rock is in Pioneer Park and offers great views of St. George when you hike up to the top.
There is a strong Mormon culture in St. George because this is where the Mormons built their first church after being driven out of the Midwest and finding their new Utah home. St. George’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints Temple is a beautiful and impressive piece of architecture even if you have no affiliation with the church. This temple stands about 175 feet high and spans an interior of over 110,000 square feet. There is a visitor’s center here that you can stop by daily from 9am to 9pm even if you are not a member of the church. The temple grounds are particularly lovely in the spring with all of the plants and flowers growing here to see.
Ancient Native American tribes called this region of Utah their home many years ago and left their mark with fascinating rock art that you can still see today. One great site to visit is the nearby Little Black Mountain Petroglyph Site, around the border of Utah Arizona. Here you can walk on an easy trail to see the rock formations and boulders with ancient petroglyph symbols. The site is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and has over 500 rock art designs and elements to see.
St. George is also known as a prime golfing destination, with year-around golfing possible due to the mild climate. The courses here are unique and set along the red canyon walls and lava rock formations. Some courses to check out are the Coral Canyon, Sun River, Sky Mountain, Entrada and Snow Canyon, and Dixie Red Hills courses.
Many types of plants are native to the St. George area, including wildflowers that are spectacular to see when they’re in bloom. Visit the St. George area in the spring to see wildflowers at the local parks, such as Snow Canyon State Park. The Red Hills Desert Garden is another nice place to see lovely plants because there are thousands of unique species growing here that you can learn about in the garden’s exhibits.
Southern Utah is no stranger to epic views, and this part of the country is truly a photographer’s dream destination. The unique red cliffs and rock formations look different at various times of day and in different weather conditions, so you can spend many days here even photographing the same parks and scenic views. It’s also fun to take a stroll through downtown St. George to snapshots of the historic homes and buildings, boutique shops, and downtown farmers’ market.
There’s perhaps no better way to truly soak in the natural beauty of this region than to fly high above it in a hot air balloon. Local guide companies, such as Palledin Balloon Excursions, offer rides to visitors and locals looking to experience the region in a unique way. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the area and also learn about local landmarks along the way that you can plan to visit later during your trip. You may even get to help set up and take down the balloon with your guide to learn more about how hot air balloons work.
Another top activity to do in this part of Utah is canyoneering, and this outdoor sport is best done with a guide if you aren’t experienced in rappelling and rope work. Many people travel to the nearby Zion National Park area to go canyoneering, but there are lots of additional places this region where you can lower yourself down into a slot canyon and explore the amazing rock formations first-hand. Lambs Knoll is a prime canyoneering spot, and guide companies like Paragon Adventure will take you out to the canyons and provide all the gear and instruction you’ll need. Other southern Utah canyoneering destinations include Johnson Arch Canyon, Neon Canyon, and Buckskin Gulch.