Almost 150 years ago Brigham Young established a small community of cotton growers in the semiarid Virgin River Valley. That community has since grown to well over 70,000.
Brigham Young was a pioneer in the settlement of the Western United States, founding Salt Lake City and becoming the first governor of Utah. He was also a leader in the Latter Day Saints movement and St George remains one of the most conservative towns in the USA.
St. George is located in the lowest elevation in Utah but is surrounded by mountains and sandy hills. During the winter the town becomes a refuge for those Americans wanting to escape the harsh cold for a gentler climate.
The climate is very similar to the desert of southwestern Utah, with hot summers and mild winters, mostly devoid of snow. The average temperature in July is 39°C. The highest temperature recorded in Utah occurred in St. George on July 5, 1985 with a whopping 47°C.
The record minimum temperature in summer was 32°C on July 15, 1970. In the winter, temperatures often drop below freezing overnight, mainly due to low humidity. However, during the day, the temperature rises to about 10°C.
The Virgin River flows through the city and the Santa Clara River, flows east of St. George before joining the course of the Virgin River to the south. In 2005 both rivers overflowed causing the death of one individual and the destruction of several houses.
St George is also the entry point to some of the most dramatic natural scenery of Western America. St, from the Mojave Desert to Zion National Park and the Pine Valley Mountains.
7 sites to see near St George Town Centre
1. Pioneer Park: The red rocks and the view alone are worth the visit. This park is within 5 minutes of town.
2. The Kayenta Community: About half an hour drive to the West will bring you to an arty community set alongside majestic red cliffs.
3. St. George Temple: A must for all travellers who want to understand more about Utah, particularly the early history of the beautiful southwest.
4. St. George Tabernacle: Great historic place to visit. Most Sunday nights there are free concerts. Free tours are available throughout the week.
5. St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm: An astounding collection of dinosaur tracks housed at the very location they were discovered makes this a great stop during your vacation.
6. Coyote Gulch Art Village: A collective of art galleries and studios. Also has a theatre, restaurant and coffee shop. It’s open daily from 10am to 5:30pm
7. Brigham Young Winter Home Historical Site: Missionary guides, authentic items and information. A unique opportunity to see where the LDS prophet lived in the late 1800s
The nearest airport to St George is McCarran International Airport www.mccarran.com. The airport is about 120 mile from St George and you can easily hire a car from one of the national car-rental agencies. Car-rental agencies with offices in St. George include Avis, Budge and Hertz.
There is also a shuttle that offers daily transfers between McCarran International, Salt Lake City and the St George town centre. Make sure that you book ahead www.stgshuttle.com.
For a taxi, call AAA Quality Cab (435/656-5222) or Taxi USA (435/656-1500).
The smaller St George Municipal Airport was opened in 2011 and offers flights to Los Angeles (United) and to Salt Lake City (Delta).
For visas and visa waivers visit estafasttrack.org.uk, they will help with an ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorization application online.
Visitor guides are available from the St George Area Chamber of Commerce (www.stgeorgechamber.com) and it’s worth requesting a copy before you travel. On arrival it’s also worth stopping in at the information centre in the old Pioneer Courthouse (open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri).
If you are looking for advice on visiting the numerous State & National Parks in the near vicinity, check out the Interagency Office and Visitor Centre (www.ut.blm.gov).
They have a number of free brochures and you can also purchase books, maps and videos (open 8am-5pm Mon-Fri and 10am-3pm Saturday).
Image credits: 1; Ken Lund, 2; brewbooks 3; Ken Lund – all via flickr, used under license CC BY-SA 2.0