If you’re heading to Utah on an upcoming trip, then St. George should definitely be on your radar. Just a few hours from Las Vegas and on the border with Arizona, it’s in the prime position for a short break or as part of an epic road trip. St. George is ideal if you’re looking for the best that Southern Utah has to offer, with gorgeous red rocky mountains, multiple stunning hiking routes and enough museums to fill your brains with newfound knowledge!
What is the best time of year to visit St. George, Utah?
So, you’ve decided that you want to visit, but now the big quesion is; when? Usually, the main thing that can ruin a good trip is unexpected weather. The first time I ever visited New York City…hurricane! We were stuck in our hotel room watching terrible TV while the city that never sleeps was within reaching distance.
Luckily for you, the weather in St. George is very reliable. With 250+ days of sunshine a year and very little rain. The summers can get extremely hot with peak temperatures regularly reaching 104.5°F; around late June. However, the winter temperatures can drop down to 31.5°F. Taking all that into consideration, March to early June and September to November seem to offer quite moderate temperatures with little chance of rain. After all, no one wants to be hiking the beautiful red, rocky mountains of Utah in 100°F heat! You’ll be as red as the rocks behind you.
Now, if you’re anything like me, as soon as you get to a new destination you throw your bags into the room and head straight outside to explore! If this sounds like your jam then you’ll be overjoyed with the options for outdoor adventurers in and around St. George, Utah.
1. Zion National Park
A lot of people come to St. George as a base for visiting nearby areas which makes perfect sense. If you don’t mind a little bit of extra travel you can make your way to Zion National Park in just under 1 hour (41 miles). Zion National Park covers an impressive 230 square miles, which means you are not going to see it all in a day! Or even a week! If you’re limited on time, or ability, I would recommend these trails: Weeping Rock, Canyon Overlook Trail or The Narrows Riverside Walk. During peak season you will need to get the shuttle bus which runs regularly (around every 6 minutes) and stops at all the main roadside attractions. Check this out if you’re not sure the best time of the year to visit Zion.
If you have a little longer to explore and you’re more of an avid hiker/rock climber, then you might want to check out some of these more challenging hikes. The Subway (requiring a permit) takes you 9.5-miles scrambling down boulders and waterfalls, through rivers and past dinosaur tracks before taking you up a (very) steep ascent at the Left Fork Trailhead.
Alternatively, try out the 8.6-mile hike from The Narrows to Imlay Temple and the Big Springs. Make sure to check the weather as it can get a little trecherous hiking up the Virgin River if there happens to be a lot of rainfall.
If you want to find out what else Zion National Park has to offer, then check out this more in depth look at all the amazing hikes and trails.
2. Sand Hollow State Park
At just under 15-miles from St. George, Sand Hollow State Park will feel like a vacation in itself. With 15,000-acres of red sand dunes you can expect to see ATV and OHV enthusiasts making the most of 62,000-acres of technical trails! If off-road exploration isn’t really your thing, why not check out the 1,322-acre reservoir and try your hand at fishing, wakeboarding, tubing or water skiing. Not wanting an adrenaline-filled trip? That’s okay too. Why not hang out on the beach and have a picnic while soaking up the glorious scenery.
3. Snow Canyon State Park
Want to say you’ve walked on lava? Well, Snow Canyon State Park is just the place for you. Hike, cycle or travel by horseback through the beautiful desert, surrounded by sandstone cliffs and lava flows. See if you can spot the endangered desert tortoise or the more terrifyingly named, gila monsters!
Some popular hikes here include: Petrified Dunes Trail (1.2-miles), Lava Flow Trail (2.5-miles), Butterfly Trail (2-miles) and Jenny’s Canyon (20-minutes, if you haven’t seen a slot canyone, check this one out).
4. Little Black Mountain Petroglyphs
If you’re looking for a bit of history and something that won’t take up a huge chunk of your trip, the Little Black Mountain Petroglyphs is ideal. Just a 30-minute drive from St. George, you’ll find an impressive sandstone and basalt peak that depicts over 500 rock art designs dating back for 6,000 years!
These markings have been made by several different American Indian groups and although we don’t know the exact meaning of all the rock art, some are thought to be ceremonial, religious or calendar based.
This hike should only take about an hour and is considered easy although I wouldn’t recommend trying to get a wheelchair or pushchair there as the ground is pretty uneven.
5. Moe’s Valley Bouldering
Moe’s Valley is must-do stop off for any bouldering experts or enthusiasts out there. Just a 15-minute drive west of St. George you’ll reach the mass of sandstone boulders reaching a maximum height of 6-metres. The problems vary from V0-V14 but most clock in at the moderate V4-V6 mark. You will need to bring your own crash mat but you’ll be pleased to know the boulders are mostly on flat ground making the descent a little smoother.
Bouldering enthusiasts could easily spend a day here and if that’s not enough for you, car camping is allowed on the site.
6. Lower Sand Cove Trail
The Lower Sand Cove Trail, otherwise known as The Vortex or The Bowl Trail, is about 35 minutes from St. George. There’s a couple of different hikes you can do to get to the “vortex”. There’s an easy route which is fairly straighforward and best if you have children with you but there’s also an adventurous route too. This route has a narrow trail that eventually ends, leaving you to find your own way up to the vortex. There’s some light rock scrambling but nothing too death defying! Some solid hiking shoes and a few litres of water and you’re ready for the 2-3 hour hike to the vortex and back!
If you want to find out more about this hike, The Trek Planner goes into a lot more detail, with GPS coordinates for those following the adventurous trail too.
7. Pioneer Park
A humble 7-minute drive from St. George, there’s really no excuse not to check out Pioneer Park while your visiting. From here you can see Arizona, Downtown, The White Dome and Zion National Park! If you’re into rock climbing, or just rock scrambling, then you’ll be more than satisfied with this 52-acre community park.
Dixie Rock is one of the most famous parts on Pioneer Park and there’s anchors there for rock climbing and rapelling. If adventure sports aren’t your cup of tea that’s okay too; why not bring a picnic and sit on top of Dixie Rock taking in the spectacular views.
If you’re in St. George, Pioneer Park is a great spot. People can spend anywere from 20-minutes to 3 or 4 hours here, it’s really up to you.
8. Hot Air Balloon Ride
Something a little different now to the usual hikes and rock climbing! If you want to see, not only St. George, but Southern Utah aswell, a hot air balloon ride is an awesome addition to any itinery. It can be a little on the expensive side but it really is a once in a lifetime activity to rise slowly above the gorgeous Southern Utah scenery at sunrise. The warm glow of the morning sun illuminates the red, rocky structures and vast desert; the river winding through canyons and mountains. And, to top it all off, companies usually offer a complimentary celebratory drink afterwards! I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day.
Not everyone is outdoorsy, and that’s okay! There’s still plenty for you culture vultures to enjoy in St. George. There’s a long history in St. George and plenty of monuments and museums that do it justice. Let’s dive right in and see what St. George has to offer.
1. Historic Downtown
Now, perhaps you just enjoy getting the “feel” for a place before you plan anything or head off exploring further afield. If that’s the case then you’ll love what St. George Downtown has to offer. You could spend hours wandering the streets filled with restaurants, cafes, art and history. Not only that, the backdrop to all this is beautiful red mountains. During peak season, (May to October), there’s a farmers market every Saturday which is a great way to spend a morning even if you just go to browse and people watch.
Personally, I’m a big fan of walking tours. You get to know the new town or city you’re in, you get to learn about the history and the stories from real people that have lived and loved there AND you might even make a friend or two to hang out with on your trip!
2. Kayenta Art Village
If you’re more into the art scene, then take a short trip up to Kayenta Art Village and soak up the art galleries, festivals, cafe, hair stylist, spa and more. Had a long day hiking? Head to Kayenta for a lovely spa treatment or a spot of yoga to loosen up those muscles. Want to get creative? They’ve got your covered with pottery and art classes galore. Want too feel inspired? Well, there’s nothing quite as inspiring as watching an artist create in their own studio.
3. St. George Utah Temple
If you’re in St. George, it’s almost criminal not to stop by and see the St. George Utah Temple. Rising up to 175 feet and taking up an entire city block, it’s likely you’ll see it whether you like it or not! And what’s not to like. A glorious, towering white temple, built back in 1877 and steeped in so much of the Mormon history.
Only people of the Mormon faith are permitted inside however you can walk the grounds and check out the visitor centre while you’re there.
4. Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum
Interesed in WWII history? Or just looking for a more educational way to spend a morning in St. George? Then go and check out the Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum. There’s lots of impressive planes to look at, you can even climb into a couple and take an Instagram-worthy “pilot” picture. The staff on site are super knowledgeable so anything you want to know about these impressive planes and they’ve got you covered.
Open Thursday to Saturday 9am-5pm and Monday to Wednesday by appointment, get in there while you’re visiting and you might even be lucky enough to visit while the mechanics are working on these beautiful aircrafts!
5. Daughters of Utah Pioneers (McQuarrie Museum)
Attempting to preserve the history of the pioneers who came to Utah before 1869, the McQuarrie Museum is a fantastic way to spend a couple of hours when you’re in St. George. It’s owned by three Daughters of Utah Pioneers Companies which means there’s 200 volunteers (all women) who not only maintain the museum but work as the docents for visitors.
With relics, photographs and other historical objects from the pioneer days, this place is a real testament to the past. It’s open 10am – 5pm every day except Wednesday and Sunday. If you wanted some more information, check out Southern Utah Cares for a more detailed description.
6. Sears Art Museum
Art enthusiasts out there, head to Sears Art Museum (part of the Dixie State University). They have around five shows a year, all diverse in theme and style. If you’re around in February then you’re in for a treat as the Sears Dixie Invitational Art Show and Sale is on. This show, made up of both students and professionals, features 100 regional artists.
Open daily, the Sears Art Museum is an awesome way to spend an afternoon while in St. George. Check out their website to find out more about the current show.
7. Red Hills Desert Gardens
Whilst technically outside, I’ve included the Red Hills Desert Gardens in the Culture Vulture portion of this article as it is more relaxation than blood-pumping. Measuring up at just under 5-acres, the site isn’t huge, however, it certainly packs a punch with 5,000 desert plants within its borders! Not only that, there’s a 1,150-foot stream, featuring native and endangered fish, where guests can hop along the stepping stones.
As if this wasn’t already pretty cool, there are also 200-million year old dinosaur tracks to be seen as well as a replica canyon slot!
For the Kids!
Whilst all these attractions and activities might keep a couple of adults amused for weeks, we all know you’ve got to think outside the box when it comes to keeping the little ones entertained. Now some of the hikes around St. George are absolutely kid friendly; Whiterocks Ampitheatre Trail, Temple Quarry Trail and the Elephant Arch Trail just to name a couple.
That being said, we all know how quickly kids can get bored on a trail and when you’ve finally heard “are we there yet” one too many times, you’ll be glad you’ve got these other activities ready to go.
1. St. George’s Dinosaur Discovery Site
Take a step back in time, 200-million years ago to be exact, and come be enthralled by the thousands of fossilized dinosaur tracks at the Dinorsaur Discovery Site. Don’t worry, there’s more than just dinosaur footprints to keep your little ones entertained. Don’t forget to check out the 5 life-size dinosaur replicas or the fossil preparation lab!
2. St. George Children’s Museum
“Discover, Imagine and Create” is the motto for the St George Children’s Museum and that is evident when you walk through the 12 exhibit rooms. They have all things interactive to get your kids interested in the things they’re learning about. Not only does the museum have interactive exhibits, but they also hold different events like art and crafting.
3. Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum
If your kids love animals, then the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum should definitely be on your go-to list for St. George. A large taxidermy museum, they’ve arrange the animals by continent so you and your little ones can walk through the African savannah, the plains of North America and the habitats of Europe. It’s not just a “look but don’t touch” museum, there’s also some interactive puzzles and games for the kids.
Warning: this museum does promote hunters as conservationists so if this is something you’re against, this might not be the museum for you!
4. Town Square Park
If you’re in St. George around the hotter months of the year, you’ll more than likely be looking for ways to cool off. If that’s the case then get those little monkeys into some swimming gear, pack a picnic and head to Town Square Park. They’ve got fountains, splash pads and lazy rivers to help ward off the summer heat. This beautiful park is the perfect spot for a picnic also, so why not make a whole afternoon out of it!
Night owls like me may be slighly disappointed with what St. George has to offer. Being an almost entirely Mormon city, bars or pubs are pretty much non existent. Most locals will go to an art show or theatre production as a kind of “night out” and then maybe head into a hotel bar for a nightcap on the way home.
Now, there are a couple of places you can head to on your Friday evening in St. George, one being the Station II Bar. This might be the closest thing you’ll find to a “proper” bar, with a taproom, billiards, patio and lounge. It’s open from 4pm-11pm Tuesday to Sunday.
Inside the Hilton Garden Inn is The Office Lounge which serves beers and cocktails daily or if you’re in the mood for something a bit more upbeat, then head over to the One and Only bar which features a DJ, karaoke and dancing!
Basically, there are a few nice places you can head to in the evening in St. George just don’t go expecting a Las Vegas level night out here! No one wants to go on a 4-hour hike up the mountains on a nasty hangover anyway; St. George is doing you a favor!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
St. George really does have tons to offer whether you’re solo, a couple or a family. If you enjoy being outdoors or you enjoy exploring and learning about new cities, you’re in for a treat. To finish up, here are just a few of the frequently asked questions by other prospective St. George travellers!
Answer: Short answer: yes! St. George is an ideal base to visit Utah’s biggest attractions like Zion National Park but there’s also tons of outdoor activites, museums, art, culture and history to entertain you in St. George itself.
Answer: St. George, Utah is known for being a hub for dozens of beautiful hikes, rock climbing, water sports and more.
Answer: May to June or September to October would be the ideal months. There’s very little chance of rain during these months and the temperature is warm but not overbearingly hot.
Answer: Inside St. George there is downtown, parks, museums, art galleries, restaurants and bars. And that’s just to name a few things to do within St. George itself.