For nearly 15 years, I have made it a point to schedule an annual getaway in a land of desert canyons and majestic mountains, to St George, Utah, to visit a friend, recuperate & recharge my mind and soul after the hectic and sometimes draining holiday season.
A two-hour drive from Las Vegas north on the I15 brings you to the nearest Southern Utah town of St. George. Mostly a retirement town for snowbirds from Salt Lake City, it is quickly growing into a quiet metropolis. I’m not here for the food or culture (the polygamists sightings, however, are interesting); I’m here for my annual trek to visit my friend Tom. He lives in a home whose backyard literally butts up against a mesa (Bureau of Land Management federal property) with red rock, snakes in the summer (dormant in the winter, yay) and grey squirrels in the winter.
Our Day 1 outing takes us to Snow Canyon State Park, a short 20-minute drive, through newer, luxury retirement homes, some on golf courses; fortunately, they are done tastefully, blending into the red desert landscape. Red Mountain Resort & Spa is located at the entrance to the park, and again, it’s discreetly nestled in the hills and unobtrusive.
Snow Canyon is named after the Snow Family, who raised cattle on this red rock desert reserve. Snow Canyon is well known among locals and some passing through to Zion. Visualize petrified sand dunes, ancient volcanic & red rock cliffs, and desert landscape. We walk, climb and explore many of the trails, hiking up the easy-to-ascend dune steps, and make our own trails. We find a lunch spot on top of a petrified sand dune and break open our day packs filled with homemade sandwiches, sour cream and onion chips and apples. And lots of water. It’s serene and we sit quietly enjoying the splendor around us. We can hear our echoes in some spots, and we see no more than 10 other visitors, making me feel like we have the entire park to ourselves. This is absolutely my favorite spot, and I never miss an opportunity to visit Snow Canyon.
Day 2 takes us an hour’s drive to Zion National Park. The cliffs and trees are dusted with snow. We stop at the ranger's station to get the lastest trail conditions. My favorite is the river walk. Some snow and packed ice is blanketed randomly along the trail. The trail stops short of the river’s end as it’s closed due to the hazardous icy conditions and falling icicles. The sound of the rushing water calms and quiets the hike. The sheer rocky cliffs soaring hundreds of feet above us makes us feel like little ants on the valley floor. This day is full of visitors, as it’s becoming more and more of a popular stop for winter visitors from all over the world (we heard many languages being spoken on the trail). Back to the car to grab our picnic lunch then finding a large fallen tree to park ourselves along the river enjoying the majestic surroundings.