In 1861 Brigham Young, the Mormon prophet-colonizer, gazed northward up a desperately barren valley. Waving his hand to include the entire setting, he said, “There will yet be built between those volcanic ridges a city with spires, towers...and homes with many inhabitants.” And so St. George came to be.
Centrally located in some of nature’s finest scenery, St. George has become a winter resort for snowbirds, as well as a key gateway to the greatest concentration of national parks and natural wonders on earth. Within easy driving distances are such world-renowned destinations as Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon National Parks; Cedar Breaks and Pipe Springs National Monuments, Snow Canyon State Park, the Virgin River Gorge, Kolob Canyons, Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
The St. George area is a historical gold mine, full of 19th-century homes, buildings and old dirt roads leading to fascinating ghost towns and prehistoric dinosaur footprints. Interesting Mormon historic sites include the town of Pine Valley, where you can see one of the oldest surviving Mormon chapels. At Jacob Hamblin’s home in Santa Clara, you can experience rustic, pioneer living. Brigham Young’s winter home in St. George is also open for tours. Several pioneer-era homes, including some built by prominent citizens, can be seen at Green Gate Village.
The St. George Temple and the St. George Tabernacle are great monuments to the determined efforts of the early pioneers who were sent to settle the area. A fun walking tour guide is available at the visitor’s centre housed in the old St. George Courthouse. Other historic sites in the area include Grafton, an old ghost town that served as a backdrop for the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Another ghost town is Silver Reef, where the Wells Fargo building and the ruins of silver mines tell the story of a boomtown that swelled to 1,500 people between 1878 and 1882.
But more than anything, St. George has become a fine place to relax and enjoy year-round leisure time. The area boasts 12 great golf courses, with others nearby. The tennis college at Green Valley offers everything the tennis enthusiast could ask for.
St. George is the gateway to Zion National Park. Whether you walk among the towering overhangs, hike through the narrow canyons or scale the sandstone cliffs, Zion is an awe-inspiring experience. A variety of trails allow people of all ages and skill levels to experience the grandeur of Zion Canyon. Stop by the visitor centres, museum and bookstores in the park to learn more about the park’s history and features.
The Kolob Canyons area, the western portion of the park, offers stunning views of Zion’s trademark cliffs and canyons, while the Kolob Terrace area has a paved road that offers a scenic drive into the mountains, through lush forest, with classic Zion scenery all along the way.
Top 14 Things To See & Do1. National Parks: Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands and Zion national parks.
2. Golf: 12 courses offer year-round play.
3. Events: Major events include the St. George Marathon, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon; Easter Arts Festival and Antique Car Show; Zion Canyon Arts and Flute Festival; and Dickens’ Christmas Festival.
4. Tuacahn: Natural amphitheatre that hosts “Broadway in the Desert” theatre productions.
5. Dinosaur Walkway: Some of the oldest and best-preserved tracks in the world.
6. Pine Valley Mountains: Hiking, biking, horseback riding in high forested mountains.
7. Historic Sites: Pioneer history in downtown buildings and surrounding ghost towns.
8. Kolob Canyons: Western-most section of Zion NP, with stunning views of cliffs and canyons.
9. Kolob Terrace: Central section of Zion boasts Subway slot canyon.
10. Hike/Canyoneer: Wide range of hiking and extreme hiking experiences, with some lower trails wheelchair accessible.
11. Mountain Bike: Pedal the Scenic Drive, and other roads; Pa’rus Trail is the only biking trail in the park.
12. Springdale: Haven for artists with wide choice of recreational acitivites.
13. Scenic Byways: Zion Park Scenic Byway, Heritage 89, Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway.
14. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park: Picturesque dunes open to ATVs and off-road vehicles.