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Visitor Information Center

Stop by our Tourism Office & Visitor Center for information on St. George, Zion National Park, and other attractions. It’s the perfect first stop for visitors to the area to discover something new, ask questions and pick up materials.

Open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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Unique Ways to Stay and Play in Greater Zion

Zion Tiny Homes

New Glamping Resorts, Former Residence of an FBI Most Wanted Fugitive and Historic Homes Among Creative Lodging Options

Greater Zion, nestled in the southwest corner of Utah, offers creative lodging experiences for guests that are as unique as the destination’s landscape. From glamping experiences to the home of a former FBI Most Wanted fugitive, Greater Zion provides several unique ways to stay while adventuring in this world-class destination.

Greater Zion’s wide open spaces provide for natural social distancing. The region’s unique lodging experiences range from cabin-like experiences, tiny homes and wagons that are thoughtfully spaced for guest comfort and privacy.  

Zion Wildflower Resort

Zion Wildflower Resort

Zion Wildflower allows guests to choose from several unique and memorable accommodations including covered wagons, canvas tents and cozy bungalows. Guests have full access to the resort’s amenities including games, yoga and more. The resort is located between St. George and Springdale in Virgin near the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park.

Open Sky Zion

Open Sky

Luxury camping, aka glamping, is elevated even more at Open Sky. The safari-style glamping tents allow guests to indulge with bamboo linens, soaking tubs and private outdoor showers while enjoying the stunning backdrop of Greater Zion. Open Sky features an onsite spa tent and restaurant.

zion most wanted hotel

Zion’s Most Wanted Hotel

The former home of convicted polygamist Warren Jeffs, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, has been transformed into Zion’s Most Wanted Hotel. Located almost 50 miles from St. George in remote Hildale, the large residence was home to Jeffs and his family for several years. Quirky, yet comfortable, the hotel is located near several outdoor activities including the popular Water Canyon Trail, which takes hikers through a slot canyon and up to an expansive plateau. 

Under Canvas Zion

Under Canvas Zion

Near the Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park lies 196-acres of safari-inspired glamping at Under Canvas Zion. Surrounded by sandstone cliffs and red rock, the property offers luxury tents and amenities including onsite dining, daily housekeeping, complimentary camp activities, an adventures concierge and more. Opening for the season June 4, Under Canvas Zion is currently offering a package that includes a tent, all meals and dining gratuity, choice of an adventure and an on-site guest experience coordinator.

Gooseberry Mesa Yurts

Gooseberry Yurts

Mountain bikers seeking to connect with nature will find Gooseberry Yurts the perfect place to rest after riding the popular Gooseberry Mesa or other iconic routes in the area. This is the only property located on Gooseberry Mesa, providing bikers easy and quick access to nearby trails. Three yurts with bunk beds, lanterns, cookstoves and wood stoves elevate the normal camping experience and connect guests with the surrounding area. Each yurt can sleep up to six adults comfortably and guests are responsible for their water, firewood and gas canisters.

The Dwellings

The Dwellings

The Dwellings offers a twist on the typical vacation rental with tiny homes situated on the rim of the Virgin River and Confluence Park, overlooking the expansive landscape of Greater Zion. The accommodations provide the comforts and necessities of home, and offer a balance of modern design, classic touches and technology features. The property is adjacent to the popular River Rock Roasting Company for fresh coffee and espresso drinks, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also provides easy access to many of the region’s popular locations such as Sand Hollow State Park and Toquerville Falls, and is 30 minutes from Zion National Park.

Holmstead Ranch Resort

Holmstead Ranch

Just north of St. George, Holmstead Ranch Resort is an oasis, a serene mountain setting. With a glamping village, as well as luxury cabins and cottages, and campsites, you’ll find a mix of adventure and relaxation. With space for retreats, business meetings and even weddings, you can come as a company or family. It’s a launching pad for ideas and inspiration or rest and relaxation. Onsite you can enjoy paddleboarding, swimming, pickleball, basketball, horseshoes, kids’ playground, skeet shooting, hiking and paintball, and yet they’re a short distance from further hiking, golf, fishing, kayaking and even theater. The resident alpacas, goats, mini fillies, and other cute creatures are perfect onsite pets.

Gooseberry Lodges

Gooseberry Lodges

Another haven for mountain bikers is Gooseberry Lodges, located in rural Apple Valley, and only a short drive (or bike) to the expansive trail system of Gooseberry Mesa. Each cabin was specially designed with mountain bikers in mind with wall mount bike work stands and a communal bike washing station. The lodges are comfortably furnished and cooking supplies are available for use at check-in. The main office also acts as a general store with various provisions including fire wood and limited food and drink selections. The friendly staff also is intimately familiar with the local biking trails and can provide a wealth of insights and information.  

Zions Tiny Oasis

Zions Tiny Oasis

Located on the western side of Zion National Park, Zions Tiny Oasis offers comfortable tiny homes overlooking stunning mesas and North Creek. The property features several tiny home styles that each include an outdoor gazebo, fire pit, grill and hot tub. Each home is fully insulated with full utilities making it a year-round lodging option for guests.

under the eaves inn

Under The Eaves Inn

This quaint 1931 historic home is located in Springdale, surrounded by Zion National Park on three sides and less than a mile from the park entrance. It was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places and is the first building in Springdale to receive this designation. The home is known for its steep gabled roof and bell cast eves that make it unique among other homes in Springdale. Hosts Mark Chambers and Joe Pitti fully embrace “Southwestern Hospitality” and are readily available to provide recommendations for activities, dining and more.   

Book your unique (or not-so-unique) Greater Zion lodging now, and learn what other activities and events await you in this little corner of Utah!

Check Out These Unique Antique Shops While in Greater Zion

There’s something magical about diving into the past and discovering treasures  that really speak to you. There’s a lot of that magic in Greater Zion, whether you are hunting for petroglyphs or entering one of the historic pioneer buildings. Connecting with the past and finding value there is an incredible feeling.

Honestly, who doesn’t love shopping? With the thrill of discovering historic treasures in an antique shop and perusing through the St. George historical downtown district, you’ll love the shops you’ll find in our area. Greater Zion offers treasures galore, too. From furniture and decor shops that offer items that are unique to our area to classic antique shops where you’ll find long lost items from ancient and modern history, you’ll surely be bringing something home with you that you’ll cherish forever.

Below you’ll find a roundup of the area’s antique stores, so you can browse and search to your heart’s content.

Beyond antiques, Greater Zion has many more shopping options.

Dinosaur Museum in St. George, Utah

Looking out across the floodplain of the Virgin River in southwestern Utah, it’s easy to imagine that you’re looking at a great lake. It’s the late Triassic and the water is beginning to dry out. Turning west, you can imagine an ancient shoreline of a Paleozoic ocean — now you’ve gone back too far in time, but it’s important to consider eras of dramatic changes that have culminated to this moment. Hundreds of millions of years all leading to this. The city of St. George spirals out in almost every direction from the red rock outpost, laying its grid over the desert to tame it in a way certain predecessors of this land never could. Dinosaurs weren’t exactly “civilized,” by our definition of the word.

Children gazing through display at fossilized skull.

First, a little background for the geology buffs. In 2000, a local optometrist Dr. Sheldon Johnson was leveling a hill on his property in St. George when he found a thick level of sandstone as he removed layers of sedimentary rock. As he removed large blocks of rocks, Dr. Johnson discovered a fully preserved, three-dimensional dinosaur track that was visible in both the brittle clay below and also on the bottom of the sandstone block. The track was just one of the thousands made by dinosaurs and other animals almost 200 million years ago on the shores of an ancient lake near St. George and within the broader Colorado Plateau and surrounding areas that are world-renowned for the high concentration of Triassic-Jurassic fossil resources.

Experts converged on the site to verify and reveal an extensive “trackway” found on the farm. Realizing that these dinosaur tracks would be best served if they were maintained for scientific and educational purposes, Dr. Johnson and his wife LaVerna donated the found tracks and arranged for the land to be cared for by the City of St. George. This is now a Dinosaur Museum.

But it’s not just the in situ dinosaur tracks that draw local and international geology enthusiasts year after year. Many other fossils have been found in the area (like fish bones, dinosaur bones, leaves and plant seeds, and aquatic animal shells) that have allowed paleontologists to reconstruct the approximately 200-million-year-old ecosystem, with a clarity that some call “unprecedented” and a “rarity for rocks of any time period.”

The Dinosaur Museum isn’t just for geologists. Families and children will have a great time here following dinosaur tracks along the ground, making tracks on their own, uncovering replica fossils or putting together dinosaur puzzles.

The Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm is also great for solo travelers with a copy of “Roadside Geology of Utah” who are looking to deepen their appreciation of a place whose red rock splendor is so visible it begs a closer look.

Young girl at Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm

Plan Your Trip

St. George is the largest city in southwestern Utah and is home to a wide range of great restaurants, shopping, and other city amenities. The city is a gateway to some of Utah’s most famous parks and destinations. Many visitors travel to the area for Zion National Park, but full vacation itineraries are easily created by including state parks such as Snow CanyonSand Hollow and Gunlock, and vast outdoor landscapes like Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

To find events at the museum during your visit, check out the museum website.

The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm is located at 2180 East Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790.

Two children looking at an exhibit with small green dinosaurs.
Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm

Dinosaur Museum Hours

Open Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesdays), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is open for all summer holidays, including Memorial Day, July 4th, Pioneer Day (July 24th), and Labor Day. Closed on Easter Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year’s Days; with shortened hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for children ages 4-16, and children 3 and under are free.

Written by Jenny Willden from RootsRated Media Utah Office of Tourism

From Classic Broadway Style Plays to Contemporary Art, Greater Zion Has it All

Arriving near sunset, my partner and I take our seats facing the 1,500-foot red rock cliffs at Southern Utah’s Tuacahn Amphitheater, the rocks glowing in the magic hour light. We’ve just driven in from Salt Lake City, but the bustling energy of the city quickly fades, and we find ourselves enchanted as a tale as old as time unfolds on stage. The classic story of Beauty and the Beast comes to life as actors dressed as candlesticks and clocks sing and dance to “Be Our Guest,” their voices echoing against the canyon walls.

One of three Broadway-caliber live shows that Tuacahn hosts each year, the dramatic desert setting breathes new magic into this old fairytale. Beauty and the Beast, Annie, and The Count of Monte Cristo will soon grace this stage, and no performance disappoints in this spectacular space.

From the freeway, it’s easy to mistake this hamlet for a strip mall-filled border town, but visitors discover that St. George, Utah, boasts a flourishing art and culture scene that beckons exploration. From theater to galleries to a thriving music scene, this red rock utopia is more alive than ever.

And the secret is out. St. George’s booming population has made it the fastest-growing metro area in the nation, with retirees and young adventurers alike relocating to this desert paradise that’s a short drive from Zion National Park, vast red rock wilderness and conservation areas and a cluster of Utah’s best state parks. But you don’t have to move here to get in on the action. St. George’s spectacular landscapes, small town charm, and big city amenities make it an incredible place for an artistic escape.

Tuacahn Center For the Arts
Tuacahn Center For the Arts

Broadway in the Desert: Tuacahn Center for the Arts

Built in the shadow of tall red rock sandstone cliffs, Tuacahn puts on Broadway productions in a dramatic outdoor amphitheater near Snow Canyon State Park. The word “Tuacahn” means “Canyon of the Gods,” and its stunning rugged backdrop enhances any production. Catch musical performances by leading local and national acts on the outdoor stage through November, long after northern Utah’s temperatures have gone cold.

Return to Tuacahn on Saturday mornings for a weekly market featuring local art, crafts, food, and free live entertainment. An ever-changing set of painters and artisans sell their wares alongside Tuacahn Canyon, and musical acts play until afternoon.

Outdoor theatre

Art Enclave: Kayenta and Coyote Gulch Art Village

To discover the essence of St. George’s authentic art scene, make a beeline for the artist enclave of Kayenta. Creative types have long touted the inspirational benefits of living amidst these soaring cliffs and dazzling panoramas, illustrated by Kayenta’s popularity. Built against stunning varicolored rock walls just seven miles from St. George, Kayenta bustles with galleries, studios, festivals, retail shops, gourmet food, a yoga studio and even a spa — just in case you need a vacation from your vacation.

Venture into Juniper Sky Gallery to see wind sculptures and Mystic Canyon Light for outdoor landscape photography. Find impressive ceramic works at Zia Pottery Studio.

Refuel and caffeinate amidst a xeriscaped desert (one that needs very little irrigation) at Xetava Gardens Café, a Kayenta coffee shop and kitchen surrounded by lava fields. Then catch a brilliant sunset in the sculpture garden or stroll around the meditative Desert Rose Labyrinth built by Kayenta locals.

Art Events: Center for the Arts and Festivals

Catch performances by musicians, comedians, artists, and actors at the new, multifunctional Center for the Arts in Kayenta Art Village. Completed in 2017, the spacious center encompasses 11,000 square feet along with an outdoor plaza.

Stay for one of the region’s signature art festivals and gallery walks. High temperatures mean summers are slower here, making the art-strolling season a reason to visit during the cooler months of March (St. George Art Festival), April (Street Painting Festival) and October (Art in Kayenta Festival).

Close up view of pottery and paintings on display.
Dave West Art Gallery

St. George is home to 16 museums and galleries, and one of its best served as a simple sugar-beet-seed storage facility before being transformed into an art museum. Through the work of the community, St. George Art Museum opened in 1997 in this restored space. Today, the museum boasts a collection of regional and local art exhibits as well as rotating collections and events like date nights and book clubs.

For relaxation amidst classic and contemporary art, visit Dixie State University’s Sears Art Museum. The museum features six exhibits each year and an outdoor sculpture garden where you can meditate and meander among reflecting pools and bronze sculptures. Admission to both is always free.

Outdoor Tunes: Concerts in the Park

Casual and free is the name of the game at this outdoor Monday music series. Make it a long weekend and pack a picnic for these family-friendly Concerts in the Park that run from April to September in Vernon Worthen Park. Pick up some picnic fixings and then lounge on a blanket and soak up jazz, rock and roll and R&B under the stars.

Musical Theatre: Brigham’s Playhouse and St. George Musical Theater

Performing arts are popular in this community, and there’s room for more than one theater in town. Beyond the red rocks of Tuacahn, find Brigham’s Playhouse, a family-friendly theater focusing on fun, affordable performances. Its location inside a saloon-styled structure in Washington, just outside St. George, adds to the ambiance, and you can enjoy an old-fashioned root beer or dessert during any performance.

Popular St. George Musical Theatre closed for nearly five years when it lost access to its performance venue, but the company’s return to the old St. George Opera House has been met with enthusiasm. See classics like Annie, The Music Man and Guys and Dolls performed here by talented singing and dancing casts.

Classic Sounds: Southwest Symphony Orchestra

Hear the sounds of Handel’s Messiah and masters like Beethoven and Brahms at performances by the Southwest Symphony Orchestra. This 75-member orchestra calls the Cox Performing Arts Center on the campus of Dixie State University home and is celebrating 36 years of inspiring the community with classic symphonic performances.

Whether you come to St. George for the professional theater, dazzling landscapes, or abundant art galleries, this booming southern Utah destination just four hours from Salt Lake City makes the perfect place for a cultural getaway.

A History Lesson on Zion National Park

Located in southwestern Utah, 43 miles east of St. George, Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest and most visited national park, annually hosting an average of 4.5 million visitors. The park’s main attraction is Zion Canyon, at its south end, which exhibits stunning rock monoliths and eroded canyon walls cut by the Virgin River over time.

Some of Zion’s most recognized natural wonders are the 2,200-foot Great White Throne, its most famous landmark, the Court of the Patriarchs, Angel’s Landing and the Watchman, which guards its south entrance. Three of the canyon’s most popular trails, providing visitors with breathtaking views of these formations and others, are Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and Riverside Walk (also known as “Gateway to the Narrows”). Each year thousands of people flock to Zion to hike the Narrows of the Virgin River, which are so narrow in some places that a hiker can nearly touch both sides of the canyon wall with outstretched hands. The Kolob Canyon section, located in the northwestern part of the park, is home to Kolob Arch, which at 310 feet is the world’s largest known natural span.

The Anasazi people inhabited Zion from approximately 1,500 to 800 years ago, leaving behind abandoned cliff houses and rock art throughout the park. When Nephi Johnson arrived in what would become Zion National Park in 1858, the Paiute Indians occupied the canyon. Isaac Behunin became the first permanent European-American settler in the canyon when he built a one-room log cabin near the present location of Zion Lodge in 1861. Behunin named his new home Zion, remarking, “A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man-made church – this is Zion.” A few other settlers soon joined Behunin, establishing farms along the narrow valley floor. In the early 20th century, David Flanigan constructed a system of cable works to transport timber from the high mountain forests approximately two thousand feet above the canyon to the valley below.

John Wesley Powell, noted for his explorations of the Colorado River and as the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey, surveyed the area in 1872 and recorded the canyon’s name as Mukuntuweap, an Indian word meaning “straight canyon.” Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, an artist who was part of one of Powell’s trips down the Colorado, spent part of the summer of 1903 painting in Zion Canyon. Dellenbaugh exhibited his paintings at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and wrote an article in Scibner’s Magazine that same year flowing with superlatives describing Zion’s wondrous landscape, saying of the Great Temple that stands at the entrance to Zion Canyon, “Without a shred of disguise its transcendent form rises pre-eminent. There is almost nothing to compare to it.”

One Of Americas Greatest National Parks Is Virtually Empty This Winter Greater Zion

In 1909, President William Howard Taft signed a proclamation creating Mukuntuweap National Monument to protect Zion Canyon and its surrounding area. The first road up the canyon was finished in 1917 with the help of appropriations secured by Utah senator Reed Smoot. The Woodrow Wilson administration significantly expanded it and renamed it Zion National Monument in 1918. In 1919, it received national park status. In the early days of Zion tourism, visitors rode buses to the park from Cedar City, Utah after a thirty-five mile railroad spur off the main line from Lund was finished in 1923. These long buses featured convertible tops, which provided for much better viewing of the park’s spectacular scenery. During the mid 1920s, the Union Pacific and the Utah Parks Company, its subsidiary, spent over $1.7 million for improvements directly or indirectly related to the development of the park, including the construction of Zion Lodge in 1925. The company built a bus garage in Cedar City to house and maintain forty 11-passenger buses purchased to take tourists on a tour of what became known as “The Grand Circle,” which included Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Pipe Springs and Zion. A large fire destroyed Zion Lodge in 1966, but a new building rose only a year later. Crews restored the lodge’s exterior to better resemble its original architecture during the winter of 1989-1990.

One of the park’s most impressive construction projects, still considered an engineering marvel, was the blasting of a 1.1-mile tunnel through solid sandstone, between 1927 and 1930, which extended the highway to Zion’s east side and the town of Mt. Caramel. The tunnel included lookout “galleries,” cut like windows in the rock to allow motorists a better view of the canyon below. The 1920s and 1930s also saw the construction of many of the park’s hiking trails, including the famous “Walter’s Wiggles” section on the way up to Angel’s Landing, which was named after Walter Reusch, the park’s first custodian, who supervised the construction of the West Rim Trail. Kolob Canyon became a national monument in 1937. Congress incorporated it into Zion National Park in 1956.

In May 2000, Zion National Park began operating a mandatory shuttle system to transport visitors up the 6.5-mile Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during the peak season. As part of the transportation system, a voluntary shuttle also began in the town of Springdale, the town immediately south of the park’s boundary. The shuttle came about as the result of a long planning effort whose genesis was in the mid 1970s, when park managers began to realize that traffic congestion in the canyon degraded both the resource the park service was trying to protect and the visitor experience. Prior to the shuttle, thousands of cars a day competed for only 400 parking spaces within the canyon, which caused frazzled nerves in visitors vying for one of those spots and resulted in drivers parking illegally on road shoulders and other unauthorized areas, leading to trampled plant life and increased erosion potential, among other ills. The shuttle system has rectified the problem of vehicle congestion and softened the impact of visitation on the park while still giving visitors a quality experience. It eliminated private automobile traffic, which reduced air and noise pollution, decreased degradation to vegetation, and has fostered a less-stressful, more enjoyable visitor experience. Zion is just 40 miles from Saint George Utah.

An Inside Look Into the History of Greater Zion

Known as a missionary and friend of the Indians, Jacob Hamblin played an integral role in helping smooth relations between Indians and Mormon settlers throughout the West and in establishing the cotton mission in Southern Utah. He served as both a peacekeeper and a community builder.

Born April 6, 1819 in Salem, Ohio to parents who were farmers, Hamblin learned farming in his youth. In the fall of 1839, he married Lucinda Taylor (They separated in February 1849). He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March 1842 after hearing the preaching of a few missionaries. Hamblin became a missionary himself almost immediately and soon moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, church headquarters at the time.

Old wooden wagon in front of brick building.

Hamblin became one of the first pioneers to cross the plains to Utah in 1847. He first settled in Tooele, a small ranching community west of Salt Lake City. He married Rachel Judd on September 30, 1849. In 1853, when Hamblin’s gun would not fire during a skirmish with Native Americans, it inspired him to stop fighting the Indians, and instead to live among them and work with them. While in Tooele, Hamblin built an excellent relationship with the local Indians, learning to speak the Pauite and Ute languages. This led to his eventual call as a missionary to the Native Americans of Southern Utah in 1854.

Upon arrival in southwestern Utah, Hamblin helped build a fort in the small community of Santa Clara, located just upriver from St. George. Contrary to the region’s current reputation of a resort and retirement hotspot, back then Utah’s Dixie was difficult to settle because of its harsh desert environment, which included less than 10 inches of annual rainfall and summer temperatures that regularly climbed to 110° F. Early settlers also had to deal with floods, one of which washed away three of the Santa Clara fort’s walls in 1862. Hamblin and his family dismantled the remaining wall and used its materials to build a two-story adobe, sandstone and ponderosa pine home just down river from the former fort. Completed in 1863, the Jacob Hamblin home is one of the few pioneer-era homes still standing in the area. Early residents utilized its large upstairs room as a school and community center. Hamblin held great stature in the community, serving as a father figure to many. Today, Hamblin’s home in Santa Clara is open daily for tours conducted by LDS missionaries.

The Jacob Hamblin Home, Santa Clara, Utah

Just as he did in Tooele, Hamblin became a friend to the local Indians and help ease relations between them and Mormon settlers. He gained the Native Americans trust and confidence. The Indians always honored their agreements with Hamblin. One of his most notable accomplishments in making peace with the Indians was the negotiation of the Treaty of Fort Defiance, New Mexico in November 1870. Hamblin also frequently visited Hopi villages in northern Arizona, which led to the reopening of “Crossing of the Fathers,” a key passage on the Colorado River.

Hamblin married two other women, Sarah Priscilla Leavitt (September 1857) and Louisa Boneli (November 1865), and fathered 24 children, taking in several others through adoption. After passage of the Edmunds Act of 1882, which outlawed polygamy, Hamblin became a fugitive in the eyes of the U.S. government. He went into hiding to avoid capture, staying with families in Arizona, New Mexico and Chihuahua, Mexico to evade federal agents. Hamblin died in Pleasanton, New Mexico on August 31, 1886. He is buried in Alpine, Arizona.

A History Lesson on Greater Zion

The only place in North America where miners found silver within sandstone, Silver Reef followed the path of many mining boomtowns in the western United States. The largest town in Southern Utah during the nearby mines’ peak production, its population vanished once the mines failed.

In the spring of 1866, John Kemple became the first discoverer of silver in a rock formation west of what would become Silver Reef. Unable to find the source of the vein, Kemple moved to Nevada. Returning in 1874, he located many other claims, but never developed any of them.

Wells Fargo building in Silver Reef

In 1875, news of the discovery of silver in the area reached the Walker brothers, two prominent Salt Lake City bankers. They hired a well-known prospector, William T. Barbee, to stake claims on their behalf. Barbee staked 21 claims and by late 1875, he set up a town known as Bonanza City. A small cluster of businesses sprang up soon after, inflating property values. Looking for cheaper land, many miners set up a tent city north of town, calling it “Rockpile.”

When the mines in Pioche, Nevada, closed in 1875, many of its miners relocated to “Rockpile” and renamed it Silver Reef. Not long after their arrival, the town boasted nine grocery stores, six saloons, five restaurants, and a newspaper. The town’s main street was over a mile long. Fresh from working on the railroad, Chinese workers also migrated to Silver Reef and set up their own Chinatown. Between the town’s peak years, from 1878-1882, the town housed a population of approximately 2,500.

By 1884 most of the mines closed due to the decline of the world silver market, the difficulty of pumping water out of the mines, and the decrease of miners’ wages. The last mine shut down in 1891. All four attempts to revive the mines from 1898-1950 failed. Over their lifetime, the mines produced approximately $25 million worth of ore.

Located approximately 18 miles northeast of downtown St. George along the Interstate 15 corridor, Silver Reef still displays some of the ruins of the former boomtown. Once called the finest stone building in Southern Utah, the restored former Wells Fargo Express office, which is on the National Historic Register, now serves as a museum. An old bank is now a gift shop. Nearby stand a restaurant and art gallery. In a canyon just west of the former town, a short trail leads visitors to one of the old stone kilns used to process silver.

silver reef

A Full Itinerary for An Amazing Spring Day

For anyone planning a visit to the Greater Zion area in the spring and is looking for recommendations to fill their itinerary with, we’ve got you covered. Check out the ideas below for an unforgettable day of adventure in Greater Zion.


Wake up and eat at Bishop’s Grill. There are two locations, both in St. George, but one near Santa Clara and the other near Washington. They have a great menu and some really reasonable prices, which is perfect when you have small kids.

Now that you’re fueled up, head over to Elephant Arch Trail. This hike is a little sandy and 3.8 miles, but has very little elevation gain and an awesome pay off at the end of the trail. The arch is incredible, but the real reason we recommend this trail is the wildflowers. There were over 12 different kinds last spring, making it a stunning trail, thanks to the fresh spring blossoms.

Wild flowers in the desert.


You’re going to be hungry again, so grab lunch at Benja’s and have some sushi or Thai. It’s a light meal and they make phenomenal sushi rolls. From there you can head over to the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site. Whether you’re 2’ 2” or 6’ 2″, you’ll love this museum which has been built around prehistoric dinosaur tracks. It’s interactive, educational and just plain cool to see the actual footprints of these ancient giants.  

Two children looking at an exhibit with small green dinosaurs.


If you haven’t caught on to the theme yet, food kind of runs this agenda. Since dining is such an important part of your experience, we have to direct you to somewhere really special for dinner. The best view and impressive cuisine is found at Cliffside Restaurant. You will love the view of the city from up there, and even get a glimpse at Zion off in the distance.

Young couple dining at a cliffside restaurant.

It might have to be an early dinner so you can quickly make your way over to Tuacahn Amphitheatre. Nestled in the back of a beautiful red rock canyon just outside of town, in Ivins, you can see bull riding, concerts, and, most importantly, Broadway-style plays!

Panoramic view of outdoor amphitheatre.

It’s a full day that will tire you out but you won’t regret a minute of it. The pictures and memories you make will be there for years, enticing you to come back for another itinerary.

It’s far from an ordinary place and there is far more options worthy of your time than we outlined here. But luckily, there are three more seasons for which to give you a perfect day . Keep an eye out for summer!

Capturing the Perfect Shot of Zion National Park

It’s an Instagram world we live in, and that means many are looking for that perfect shot of their trip. For a lot of people that visit Zion, there is one perfect shot in particular that they are looking for—an empty Narrows!
However, in this day and age, that shot isn’t easy to get. It takes some real commitment. Let’s take a look at what you’ll have to do on your next trip to pull off that amazing Narrows shot.


If you plan on chasing after a perfect shot of the Narrows during the spring, summer, or even fall, you will be faced with crowds upon crowds. The secret is out and just about everyone who visits Zion wants to make their way up the Virgin River and into the Narrows. You won’t find a bend of canyon not full of people—during normal hours of the day, that is.

If you want to get a nice long exposure with beautiful, silky water and no random tourists in the frame without doing some extensive photoshop magic, then you have a couple options during peak season.

You can gamble on the first shuttle of the day. This is honestly a pretty safe bet and only requires a little effort to not have other people crowding your shot because only a few of you are in the canyon at this point. Your window is not super long with this strategy, but you can get a few good shots.

Your other option is to get up really early and bike up the whole main canyon and park the bike at the trail head. If you go this route, you could get lucky and have over an hour and half to have the canyon all to yourself!

Bike waiting a rider.

Choice of Season

If you don’t like the idea of getting up an hour or two before dawn, then winter is your best friend. This tactic works great for getting some nice one-on-one time with the Narrows. The downside here is that it’s pretty frigid temperatures for the water, so you have to rent the proper cloths from someone like Zion Outfitters or Zion Adventure Company. You will need dry pants and neoprene socks at the very least. It may be worth it for you to get a full dry suit.

Because winter isn’t a high visitation period—and because of how cold the water is—you will have no trouble finding the shot you want and getting it. You will likely only run into a handful of other people braving the river that day. It’s actually a lot of fun to explore the Narrows in the winter. And with the proper clothes, you won’t mind the cold. We promise.

Having the Right Equipment

There is really only three pieces of equipment I would say are a must for getting a killer shot. The first is a sturdy tripod that won’t have a problem with the moving water of the Virgin River. It’s not a powerful body of water, but if the tripod is flimsy, you may suffer from some camera shake that will ruin your long exposure. That leads to the second piece of equipment, which is a DSLR that has a timer shutter and can do at least a 1-second exposure.

The final piece of equipment will only be necessary if there is a lot of direct sunlight in the canyon. If you have a lot of light in the shot, you will need a neutral density filter to darken your image so a longer exposure isn’t blown out with too much light.

No matter how you chose to do it, getting great shot of the narrows is going to require some creativity and extra effort. Don’t be afraid of the extra work though. It’s a great experience and so rewarding to have the picture you saw in your head and hoped for. Good luck, and happy shooting.

A Snow Canyon Local Favorite

Many refer to Snow Canyon State Park as the little brother to Zion National Park. It’s an amazing place that is widely overlooked, thanks to its impressive sibling.

Snow Canyon certaintly has a lot of hidden gems, but this one definitely stands out. Once you see it, you’ll understand why and you’ll want to do it yourself. So, here’s a link to the info you’ll need to find it.

This hike is a connector trail to the Gila Trail. You can also do the entire out-and-back eight miles of the Gila Trail if you are looking for a longer hike with the same great payoff in the end.

Hidden four miles from the main canyon of Snow Canyon is a small slot canyon filled with petroglyphs! What’s a petroglyph? Well, a couple of years ago – okay, hundreds and sometimes thousands – natives of this area scratched out drawings on rock documenting their lives.

There are actually four different petroglyph spots on this loop, and they are each impressive in their own right. However, the small slot canyon petroglyphs are the ones that will steal your heart. Everything about it screams childhood fantasy. For a few brief minutes, you’ll feel like Indiana Jones! The entrance is well shrouded by shrubbery, but once you find it, you’re quickly enclosed in tall rock walls.

One the most notable parts of this hike is the tree that refused to be dismissed and denied growth. In adversity, it grew strong and tall, and makes for an amazing photograph. Instead of gold or an artifact to steal away like Indy, you get beautiful shots of ancient drawings and cool, tightly cut slot canyon walls. You probably won’t get chased out by a giant rolling boulder, but if you’ll surely walk away feeling satisfied with the amount of adventure you were able to experience.

Please keep this spot special and treat it with love and care. Follow Leave No Trace rules, and don’t damage the area or add your own version of drawings or markings. It’s meant to be enjoyed, so make sure it’s around to be enjoyed by future generations, too.

Hiking Trails

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