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Southern Utah is one of North America’s most beautiful treasures. With more national parks packed in per square mile than any other part of the country, this region of Utah is a wonder for the eyes and thrill for the body. You will never see a more beautiful landscape and breathtaking rock formations than what awaits you in southern Utah.
St. George is conveniently located within an hour or two of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun in the city itself.
Northern Utahans regard St. George as warmer getaway in the cold winter months. Golfing, history and entertainment is always within reach. It’s the largest city in the southern Utah area and offers all of the conveniences you need while still maintaining the quaint and scenic feel.
Mountain Biking – Although Utah is filled from north to south with world-class trails, there is something special about the slick rock and dirt trails of St. George. Bear Claw Poppy and Gooseberry Mesa present challenging and exciting options for new to experienced mountain bikers. But even in the easily accessible Snow Canyon, easier trails are quickly found.
Play Golf – St. George’s temperate winter climate makes it a premier destination for golfers. Deep green fairways contrast on the bright red rocks to offer a singular landscape different from anywhere else. There are many impressive courses in the area, so bring your clubs and book a few rounds.
Jazzy’s Rock 'n' Roll Grill – This unsuspecting café is a very popular tradition among adventure athletes and music enthusiasts. The delicious and reasonably priced breakfasts are a great way to fuel your day. Then stop by after a day of exploring for great local music and delicious brews.
Tuacahn Amphitheatre – From the “Broadway in the Desert” series to major concerts and holiday celebrations, Tuacahn is a theatre that you wouldn’t expect in this mid-size town. Learn more about this year’s productions.
Springdale and Mt. Carmel are commonly used, respectively, as the west and east entrances to Zion National Park. Zion has been named America’s #1 National Park by TripAdvisor and lives up to its reputation. You may never find a more spectacular view than the one you’ll see at the top of Angel’s Landing. The park is accessed by the only highway that splits it, HWY 9. HWY 9 is accessed from HWY 89 on the east and I-15 on the west.
Hike Angel’s Landing – This is one of the Zion National Park’s most popular hikes and can be accessed most of the year. It is a steady uphill battle that doesn’t let up for the 2.5 miles to the summit. You will gain nearly 1,500 feet in elevation and the last portion will guide you along a narrow ridge to the expansive view at the summit on top of one of the most prominent cliffs in the park.
Canyoneer The Narrows & The Subway – If you want to do the entire canyon, you will need to enter from the other side of the park. But most people will enjoy hiking from the lowest mouth of the canyon on the several miles of the watery and rocky floor. The best times to explore will be in the summer when the combination of cold water and shade will not be too jarring. Drive to the extreme of Zion Canyon to find the bottom mouth.
Drive HWY 9 to Mt. Carmel – If you are just passing through and don’t have time for a day long adventure, then take the time to drive up Highway 9 to the summit of Mt. Carmel. The winding switchbacks will provide breathtaking views and will even take you through rustic stone tunnels carved out of the side of the mountain. This is a one-of-a-kind drive that you will never forget.
Bryce Canyon is considered to be the Gateway to the Parks. It’s one of the first parks you’ll see when you head south from Salt Lake and the stunning vistas will get you excited for the rest of the parks. You will find access to the north end of the park on HWY 12, connecting from HWY 89.
Hiking – The park is filled with over 50 miles of day hiking trails that range from quick and effortless to half-day and strenuous. Maps can be found at the lodge along with food and drinks. Be sure to pack what you need if you are planning a longer hike. See the list of hikes and difficulties on their website.
Horseback Riding – Get a new perspective of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater as you ride into the basin. At the base of the pillars, you will gain a new appreciation for the strength of nature and observe the beauty of the rock from close up. Rides can be booked through several guiding groups.
Visitor’s Center & Lodge – A free shuttle busses people in and out of the park to avoid the sometimes-difficult parking. The visitor’s center in your hub for trail maps and guides while the lodge is a great place to get lunch and get out of the weather.
Scenic Drive – Follow HWY 12 to one of the highest trafficked parts of the park and for good reason. The five stops along the way offer breathtaking views of the park’s amazing columns and “hoodoos.” The layers of rock uncovered in the formation of the cliffs and pillars offer a beautiful gradient of white, orange and red.
Cedar City is a charming and energetic city located off of Utah’s main corridor, I-15. It is commonly used as the access point to several national parks, most prominently, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks. Access to the parks from Cedar City can be found through highways 14, 89, and 12. You will pass through Bryce Canyon before arriving at Capitol Reef.
Canyoneering – Rappel and hike into the depths of Capitol Reef National Park’s canyons to experience the land in a new way. Canyoneering is no joke and if you’re inexperienced or unfamiliar with the area, be sure to find a guide. There are plenty of them and they are happy to “show you the ropes.”
Utah Shakespearean Festival – This Tony Award®-winning festival is hosted on Southern Utah University's campus and attracts thousands of loyal patrons each year. Production quality is extraordinary and the talent will leave you stunned. If you love the arts (or even if you don’t) you will want to experience Cedar City’s Shakespeare Festival.
Cathedral Valley – Cathedral Valley is accessed by dirt roads and is found in the remote backcountry of Capitol Reef National Park. Its remote location only adds to the intrigue as visitors are presented with several sandstone monoliths. Towering at hundreds of feet above the floor, the towers jut straight up at a mid-boggling angle.
Hickman Bridge – This is a beautiful and photogenic naturally formed bridge that is located just off of HWY 24 in Capitol Reef National Park. The hike is relatively short at about two miles round trip.
The city of Moab is located in the remote southeast of Utah and is the hub for activity in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. The cities eclectic style and bright personality reflect the excitement and beauty of the parks. Moab connects to Arches on the north via HWY 191 and access to Canyonlands can be found by turning off of HWY 191 onto HWY 313. That junction is found a few miles north of the Arches entrance.
Rock Climbing – Although climbing on the arches is prohibited. There are many other areas surrounding Moab that offer premier rock climbing. One of the most popular locations is Park Avenue which allows you to drive right by the roadside sandstone cliffs.
Canyonlands National Park – It’s home to some of the biggest views and the tightest canyons. Guides can take you safely through the canyon mazes or you can schedule a Jeep tour of the area. There are endless overlooks and activities for every kind of adventurer.
Off-Roading – Did you bring your 4x4? Great! But even if you didn’t guided tours can show you the miles and miles of world-famous slick rock and sand trails that Moab is known for. Large scale 4x4 events are hosted here every year and celebrate some of the most exciting trails in the US.
Arches National Park – The most iconic natural feature in Utah is Delicate Arch. It’s a freestanding naturally formed sandstone arch that seems to completely defy physics. But it is just one of more than 2,000 arches in the park. There is no other place on earth like Arches, so DO NOT leave southern Utah without seeing them. Hiking, biking and general park info and maps can be found at their website.
Monument Valley – Found at the Southern extreme of the state along HWY 163, Monument Valley is a destination that is often less-crowded and more rugged. But don’t be fooled by the seclusion. It is absolutely worth the trip. If you’ve watched any old western films or footage from classic American motorcycle rides, then you know that this is home to some of the most iconic views in North American history.