St. George, Utah - Outdoor Activities


What? :


When people think about south Utah nature destinations thy think about the “big five” iconic national parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonland, and Arches) and probably the town of Moab as prime nature destination. 

I think that St. George need to be added to this list as a “basecamp” town, a gateway to massive red rock formations, national parks, and many day trips into the nearby outdoor and nature destinations.

Combining small-town atmosphere with natural beauty and the good waters, St. George has become one of the popular destinations in the American Southwest.


One of the things that make this town as such great destination is its location.

St. George is located on Utah southwest corner on I-15 interstate, 2 hours north of Las Vegas (118 miles) and 4 hours south of Salt Lake City (300 miles).


Some of the area’s nature destinations include:

  • Red Cliffs National Conservation Area – 25 minutes
  • Gunlock State Park – 20 minutes
  • The Vortex Hike – 30 minutes

  • Kanarra Falls Trail – 40 minutes.
  • Cedar City - 1 hour
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument, UT - 1.5 hours
  • Kanab, UT - 1 .5 hours

St. George as a destination:

The town of St. George located below the rim of the Great Basin where the Colorado Plateau meet the Mojave Desert sits Utah's warm-weather retreat.

It is located in a large valley surrounded by red rock mesas and Virgin River and Santa Clara River create the setting for one of Utah's fastest-growing cities.

Today, the unique setting translate to family adventures, luxury spas, extensive shopping, golf, and nearby outdoor recreation destination. In other words, boating, fishing, climbing, canyoneering, biking, hiking, ATV and more, all can be found in St. George, Utah.



Note on our St. George Visit:

St. George is a large town, and most tourists just pass through the area on their way north/south on I-15 or on their way to Zion and Bryce National Parks.

During my south Utah trips, I pass through St. George several times, stopping for gas or food but never really visiting here. I always thought that I should invest the time and visit the nearby nature attraction.

During our 5 days trip to southwest Utah, we stay here for 3 days and enjoy it very much.

When we stay here, we did not visit the city itself (the local large white Temple, museums, or parks) but rather use it as our basecamp for our surrounding daytrips.

You can easily stay here for 2-3 days and have daytrips the nearby nature beauties.

No need to unpack/pack your car and there are many different options of restaurants.






When to Visit

Winter, spring, and fall are the best times to visit this desert landscape destination because of the relatively mild winter temperatures. St. George's arid climate is significantly warmer than the rest of Utah state, and more closely resembles nearby Las Vegas.

At summer the temperatures here are hot but because it located at an elevation of 2,880 feet above sea level so it is less worm than the lower deserts.

St. George has hot summers and cool to relatively mild winters. The monthly average temperature ranges from 42.1 °F in December to 87.8 °F in July.


Summer is still a great time to visit here, many lakes destinations nearby and you can find high elevation hikes with cooler temperatures.

If you are hiking during summer, make sure you get out early in the day to beat the heat and bring plenty of water.



General Information:

St. George was founded as part of the cotton mission in 1861, today the town has about 100,000 population where metropolitan area has almost double that, it is considered one of the fast-growing areas in US.

It is the largest city in southern Utah and as such it offer many hotels, resorts, and other accommodation options in all price levels as well as many dining options.

St. George Utah Temple: This impressive building in the middle of St. George was built in 1872. Only members of the Mormon faith are permitted in the temple, however, there is an on-site visitor center open to the public. The temple is easily located from anywhere in town due to its shimmering white appearance.



St. George region is well known for its year-round outdoor recreation and proximity to several state parks, national park, wilderness, and national forests.

Below I collect a list of nearby outdoor nature destinations:



Zion National Park

Zion National Park main visitor center and park canyon is located just 1 hour drive east of St. George. The park offer amazing views of the red stone cliffs with white dome caps, deep canyons and two of the most iconic hiking trails in the US: Angel's Landing and The Narrows.

The northwest section of Zion National Park, Kolob Canyons is located just 30 minutes’ drive north of St. George.



Bryce National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its large, red and crimson colored sandstone hoodoos and spires rock formations. The park’s main road led to Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled area below the Rim Trail hiking path.

Situated along a high plateau at the top of the Grand Staircase Escalante, the park's high elevations of 8,000 to 9,000 feet, offer cooler days during summer and cold snow-covered month during winter.

Hiking through Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best ways to see the hoodoos, spires, and sandstone fins from the rim above or up in close. A large, interconnected network of trails makes it easy to find your trail, if it an easy walk along short section of the rim trail or long all-day hike, going down into the amphitheater.



Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is located in the mountains east of Cedar City. Cedar Breaks is a half-mile deep geologic natural amphitheater, stretching across 3 miles. The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet above sea level so it is covered with snow and close to visitors at winter months and mild summer temperatures.

We try to visit here late April 2024 and all the roads leading to the park main area where block with snow.



Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is a 7,400-acre scenic park featuring desert red-rock sandstone canyon and cliff walls. It was open to the public in 1962. Located in the red-rock valley just out of St. George, it offers 16 miles of hiking trails, sand dunes, technical rock climbing, biking, and horseback riding.

The Navajo sandstone, red and white colors are the dominant rock in the park, you can also find here lava flow basalt fields that are results of nearby cinder cones eruption.



Dixie National Forest

This forest stretches for 170 miles across southern Utah.

Visitors can experience its brilliant red spires and cliffs by car or by hiking one of the nature trails in the canyon.


Nearby Lakes Park:

If you've ever been to St. George, at summer month you know it can get hot so if you are into lake and reservoirs activities there are several nearby.

There are beaches perfect for a day-long family stay, lots of rock jumping areas, boating, fishing, and other water activities.


Sand Hollow State Park

Sand Hollow State Park, encompassing the Sand Hollow Reservoir, is one of the largest and most popular state parks in Utah. The park covers 20,000 acres and offers all kinds of recreational opportunities.

It’s one of the best lakes in Utah and to top it all off, it's home to one of the best beaches in Utah. The and a crystal-clear lake is surrounded by large sand dunes drift that are forming a beautiful orange-sandy beach.

Camping is available in two formal campgrounds with full or partial hookups.

Beachside camping, boating and OHV trails are all within easy reach at Sand Hollow State Park.


Quail Creek State Park

Quail Creek State Park welcomes day-trippers and overnighters to boat, camp, fish or paddleboard at Quail Creek Reservoir.

Just 15 miles north of St. George and even closer to the town of Hurricane, Quail Creek State Park offers warm water and mild weather year-round.

One of the best things about Quail Creek State Park is that it’s open year-round. Recreational opportunities, including fishing, swimming, stand up paddleboarding, and boating.


Gunlock Reservoir and State Park

Gunlock Reservoir and State Park is located 20 minutes west of St. George.

Boat, fish, and swim on the tranquil waters at Gunlock Reservoir or enjoy an afternoon picnic on the beach. Warm waters during summer and a mild winter climate make the park a year-round destination.




Mountain biking:

Mountain biking in St. George is fun: many sunny days and many good trails that provides riding all day long. Trails are diverse and for every riding style give riders spectacular views of the local red sandstone cliffs and desert sky.

Spring and fall are providing excellent weather and considered to be the best times to ride here. Winter days are usually mild and many people bike here year-round. Summers are very hot but you can find trails that are located in the high country.

Link to bike trails map:



ATV/OHV destination:

Need some excitement so St. George and the nearby city Hurricane is the offroad destination of southwest Utah. Much of the public land surrounding the city has designated public land with wealth of trails that are perfect for exploring on an ATV or UTV.

There are countless 4x4, ATV, OHV offroad trails in all difficulties level and many local rental businesses.

Many of the more popular trails are leading into the large sand dune area that is located south of highway 7, south of Sand Hollow State Park. This is a popular offroad destination starting from the road going all the way down to the Utah/Arizona state line.




I’m not into Golfing but as it looks like St. George can be your golfing destination. Over 12 golf courses all within a 30-minute drive or less of the Saint George area.




Go Hiking:

If you are into hiking than St. George area is your destination.

The below list is only short list of the most recommended hiking trails near St. George.

I did not manage to visit most of them so I can’t provide more information. I write them here as reference and as I will hike them I will add a links to dedicated hiking blog.



The bowl, The Vortex Trail:

The Vortex is unique phenomena where many years of erosion by water dissolving the rock created deep round pothole in the colorful Navajo sandstone.

Although that the Vortex pothole are probably the hike highlight this hike is not only about the pothole, the vast view from the top of the ridge and the hike itself is very rewording. This 2.5-mile moderate out and back hike (500ft elevation gain) will take about 2 hours to complete, depending on how much time you are staying at the Vortex and viewpoint. Highly recommended hike.



Hellhole Canyon Trail:

Sometimes known as Kayenta Canyon or Kayenta Wash North, is a hike that takes you into a spectacular canyon that you can’t see from the road, and at the right time of the year, will reward you with an amazing waterfall.



Kanarra Falls Trail:

This is a 4.6-mile round trip water hike that leading to a waterfall in the narrow canyon. You cannot avoid getting wet if you want to see the sights this trail has to offer. The Trailhead is located east of the small town Kanarraville, 40 miles north of St. George. Pre reservation of hiking permits are required via the website



Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and National Conservation Area:

At the large Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and National Conservation Area, you’ll find hiking, camping and rock climbing with a backdrop of fascinating geology.

There are few hiking options in the mountains north of St. George, west from Silver Reff.

You can explore this area by entering Road Oak Grv Dr. (032) up the mountain and deep into the Dixie National Forest.

You can find there the Oak Grove Campground just below the high ridge of Signal Peak (10370 ft elevation).

The road going up and to the left, Danishe Rnch Rd (road 031), is leading to many hiking options as:

Boltergeist Canyon

Yankee Doodle Canyon

Yant Flat

Bitter Creek Canyon, and more.


You can also hike in the lower section of the area near the Virgin River:

Babylon and Painted Arch Trailhead




Red Cliffs Recreation Area:

Located only 14 miles north of St. George this park provides a small campground, shaded picnic area, historic and paleontological sites, and miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.




Additional Pictures From our April 2024 Trip: