St. George: A Vast and Varied Desert Town

Gosh. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’ve been putting off this post. I’m just not quite sure how to adequately capture my month in St. George.

I’m convinced I’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful, topographically-diverse area. I can’t go get groceries without catching views of snow-strewn vistas, vibrant red cliffs, and craggily badlands. And if the views and weather weren’t enough, the people were definitely the icing on the cake.

Anyway, I think you get the point that I’m pretty much in love with Utah. So, with that, let’s get on with some pictures and stories.

Lake Mead Hike

Post dropping my mom off at the airport in Vegas, I decided to get my first hike of the trip on the books. I picked an easy trail—an old railroad bed along Lake Mead up to Hoover Dam. What I did not anticipate was that even an easy 8-mile round-trip hike was pushing it. I was feeling the pain…

2016-02-05-13.20.23

Kayenta, UT and Anasazi Trail Petroglyphs

Kayenta, Utah is a lovely art village northwest of St. George. It’s most known for the houses built to blend with the landscape. I took Rascal for a stroll through their village center and art garden before looking for another adventure. I noticed signs for the Anasazi Petroglyphs trail nearby so gave it a shot. I was thankful that I wasn’t the only one wondering where the glyphs were when I hiked to the area. I quickly learned you just scramble rocks to find them (which I now realize I failed to capture any photos of, of course). Nevertheless, the view was grand and I hung around awhile after finding them to enjoy it.

Pioneer Park

What a gem! This is a city park with one heck of a view. It’s pretty much a free-for-all that you can hike at your will. The rocks around Southern Utah have a sandpapery texture so you can walk up a steep cliff with little trouble. Definitely not a bad place to catch a sunset overlooking the entire city! The Red Hills Desert Garden is also right next door.

2016-02-19-17.13.46

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is probably what this area is best known for. And sadly, most of the famous sites of the park require hiking on trails that don’t allow dogs. Returning to tackle some of these epic hikes is definitely on my bucket list! So while that was a bit disappointing, I did take in all the sites I could. I drove every road of the park and enjoyed a stroll along the one path dogs are allowed. My favorite part was the mile-long tunnel.

IMG_4015

IMG_4231

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is about 2.5 hours away from St. George (longer if you take the scenic route 😉 ). My course traversed through Cedar City and the Dixie National Forest, which was enchantingly gorgeous. It’s a bit chillier in these parts this time of year and MAN did they have snow! Bryce Canyon is a site created by the forces of erosion and is known to be one of the best stargazing spots in the country. It did not disappoint!

Kanab Balloon Festival

After meandering through Bryce Canyon, I detoured over to Kanab, UT to catch a hot air balloon festival I had heard about through a St. George photography club. In the evening, they had a balloon glow, which was an experience I can’t quite put into words. Seeing all of those balloons lined up through the streets, people everywhere taking photos…pretty mesmerizing. After the balloon glow, there was a wishing lantern release. I couldn’t resist sending one off myself. To top off the day, I had some of the best blueberry mini donuts of my life (my mouth is watering just thinking about them!), and caught some great music from their battle of bands before heading back to St. George under the light of a full moon.

IMG_4435

ATVing at Sand Hallow

Shortly after arriving to St. George, it became very apparent to me that ATVing comes with the territory. Acres upon acres of BLM lands with endless trails means you won’t go far without seeing trailers full of ATVs. And if you know me, you know I’m alllll over that. Being here alone, though, I knew renting a machine and heading out by myself wasn’t a good call. Luckily, I was Facebook creeping events in the area, and found a group getting together a ride at Sand Hallow State Park. I went out on a limb and messaged the host in hopes of catching a ride with someone. Crazy enough, I got a reply right away with an invitation to come along for a day of riding. I was ELATED! Off to doggie daycare Rascal went, and I was off to the trails! I had a blast enjoying the scenery and diverse trails—from giant sand dunes to rocky, technical terrain. They were a fantastic crew to ride with, and I can’t thank them enough for including me in the fun!

Toquerville Falls

Wow. There was a little more adventure in that road than I expected! Nothing like averaging 8 mph in 4WD for a good 13 miles to put you in your place! Despite the bumpy, rocky, curvy, hilly, narrow road there, I made it to this little desert oasis in the middle of nowhere. (How did I even find this place you ask? I blame the Internet.)

GOPR0190

Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks

During my day of ATVing, my new pals pointed out this dinosaur tracks site at the bottom of the valley. Yesterday I got around to taking off down the dirt road and checking it out. It made for a scenic sunset drive!

Trinity Lutheran Church

IMG_4470

Lastly, I wanted to mention the hospitality the people of Trinity Lutheran Church afforded me during my time here. I always enjoy meeting new congregations wherever I may be traveling or living, so my first Sunday here, I found myself in a pew in this quaint desert church. I was nervous when I was called on to introduce myself, but I soon learned I was among many Midwestern friends with all sorts of South Dakota ties.

One of those couples I had happened to converse with about a travel route prior to coming to Utah (they’re relatives of a guy my mom works with). Never did I expect to accidentally run into them—it’s a small world after all! It was a welcomed surprise, as was the dinner invitation they extended to me shortly thereafter. That evening spent sharing a meal and stories with them and their family was one of the highlights of my trip. Hopefully our paths cross again back in the Midwest!

Another couple I met as I was filing out my second Sunday graciously took me out to lunch on Valentine’s Day! I was pretty smitten by their generosity towards a stranger, but even moreso by their story—traveling the country in their RV working for Laborers for Christ. I loved hearing about their lifestyle (and may or may not have been taking notes for possible future endeavors).

 


 

Oofta—that was a long one, yet it’s only a highlights reel. Sometimes, you just have to be there, as they say, to devour the fry sauce and (imitation) Crown Burgers, drive past three Mormon temples in a mile, hear about the Salt Lake City inversion on the news yet again, realistically wear shorts in February, and linger on the edge of a cliff to really feel the magnitude of God’s creation. I really must say my only regret is leaving so soon—I worry the next place won’t be as good as the last. But while I’m not entirely sure what lies in my future, I do know there will be many ocean sunsets, and I feel like I can be okay with that for awhile.

You may also like

2 Comments

    1. Love this state! Thanks for following along! You are always welcome to come visit 😉 Also, I’m still hoping to work out visiting Nashville around the time you will be. That would be fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *