In the southwestern corner of Utah on the Utah / Arizona border, St. George sleeps contentedly in a valley surrounded by red rock bluffs. As the sun rises, the bluffs awaken in crimson and the residents, some permanent, some snowbirds, stir towards the day.
Dotted with an increasing number of second homes and golf courses, St. George is fast becoming another Palm Springs though dressed in red. Pockets of sophisticated and cleverly designed desert homes are the architectural heart of the valley. Some of these are exclusive exchange homes with International Vacation Home Exchange.
Near St. George is Snow Canyon State Park. Located amongst the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Snow Canyon State Park is home to miles of hiking and equestrian trails. Featuring primarily Red Navajo sandstone, the topography is interesting and beautiful.
Not only is Snow Canyon State Park nearby, but some of the world’s most famous nature parks are within driving distance. Spectacular Zion National Park is approximately a 1-hour drive away, and Cedar Breaks National Monument, an enormous natural amphitheater of sorts with not only the regional reds but also entrancing yellows, is under a 2-hour drive just outside of Cedar City, Utah. A 2 hour and 20 minute drive away, Bryce Canyon National Park calls to nearly everyone, particularly photographers. I recall an enthusiastic visitor exclaiming at Bryce, “You wait your whole life to see something like this—your whole life”! An average of 4 hours and 30 minutes away, are the otherworldly Goblin Valley State Park, the iconic Arches National Park, and the incomparable Grand Canyon.
Depending upon the time of year, while visiting these natural wonders, you are sure to see tour bus after tour bus of Japanese and German travelers; this tour of American Southwest parks has become very popular. For a quieter visit, try touring in the autumn. For a contemplative, reflective and apropos read in this region, try, Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert by Terry Tempest Williams, a local author and enthusiastic conservationist.
If you want a faster pace, Las Vegas is only a 2-hour drive away; interestingly, you won’t escape stunning vistas on the way to more worldly pursuits. To get to Las Vegas, you need to drive through the majestic Virgin River Gorge; it is a stunning ride with dramatic cliffs on either side of I-15—as beautiful as any state or national park.
For a visit to a cooler climate, consider Cedar City, just an hour’s drive away from St. George. Home to The Utah Shakespeare Festival and a Globe-like theatre, there are also contemporary plays. The festival takes place in the summer, and is a great reprieve from the heat.
Family-centered entertainment dominates at the unmatched outdoor theatre of Tuachan near St. George. The plays’ backdrops are dramatic red bluffs—a truly unique experience.
For fine dining and a nice view of the St. George valley, consider dinner at the Cliffside Restaurant. For shopping, Coyote Gulch Art Village in inventive Ivins, Utah offers photography and other unique galleries. IVHE has an spaciously beautiful exclusive exchange home in St. George (see video below).
For unmatched pampering, The Sagestone Spa and Salon at Red Mountain Resort features indulgence in a beautiful setting; my sister Laura said that the pregnancy massage she received there was the best massage she ever had. Also featured is a healthy menu for lunch which I enjoyed.
Are you a history buff? The St. George area has both ancient and more recent historical sites. There is a tour of Brigham Young’s home offered for free (St. George was a Mormon settlement). For ancient history, consider the Little Black Mountain Petroglyph Site or the Dinosaur Discovery Site.
Wow! Though I write about many wonderful places in the world, detailing just some of what the St. George, Utah area offers has made me want to return—to bask in the ambient, red light of morning, or to just visit my little sister, Laura, St. George resident.