St. George, UT
The gateway to some of the nation’s most spectacular scenery, St. George is, surprisingly, called “Utah’s Dixie.” The desert city, located in the southwest part of the state, sprouted up in the 1860s when Brigham Young sent 309 Mormon families, many from southern states, to start a cotton-growing community. The town flourished, and the nickname stuck.
Today, St. George has a population of 75,000. Moderate year-round temperatures factor in the city’s appeal as Utah’s “golf capital.” Thousands of visitors arrive each year to check out top-notch golf courses as well as historic sites, state and national parks and, most recently, a dinosaur discovery site.
St. George’s most famous attraction is Zion National Park, located a half hour away. Drawing 3 million visitors annually, the park offers breathtaking views of majestic canyons. Hikers can explore any of 18 trails ranging from easy to strenuous.
Snow Canyon State Park is less well known than Zion but is filled to the brim with captivating scenery and trails. The canyon is named not for the wintry white stuff but for two pioneers whose last name was Snow. The red-rock country is perfect for hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing and biking. Colorful sandstone cliffs overlook the valley, which is open year-round for camping.
In 2000 a St. George resident uncovered sandstone slabs on his property and happened upon a significant paleontological discovery. The site has since been developed into a famous attraction called the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, located on East Riverside Drive. Visitors can see ancient dinosaur tracks that date to the Early Jurassic period.
Residents and tourists flock to St. George’s 12 golf courses, two of which were designated as “Best New Golf Courses” by Golf Digest. Each golf setting is unique, with incredible views of rocky desert landscapes, sandstone canyons and even Zion National Park and Snow Canyon State Park.
St. George is rich with popular historical sites. The Brigham Young Winter Home and Office near downtown showcases distinctive construction techniques of the 1870s. The home was built for the Mormon leader when he left Salt Lake City for St. George’s warmer climate. Fans of historic architecture can take a short drive northeast to Santa Clara to see the Jacob Hamblin Home, a rare surviving example of a pioneer-era homestead.
The first Mormon temple completed in the state is the striking St. George Utah Temple, built in 1877. Visitors can tour the grounds and visitors center. Several blocks northwest is the St. George Tabernacle, an awe-inspiring monument of red sandstone.
While downtown, tourists can stroll St. George’s Ancestor Square, a district of 12 historic buildings. The neighborhood includes the Gardeners Club building, one of the city’s oldest, along with the sheriff’s office and the original jailhouse. The restored buildings also house premier restaurants, shops, boutiques and galleries.
Whether you are seeking golf, scenic parks, history lessons or dinosaurs, St. George is the gateway to a spectacular getaway in Utah.