4 Unique Outdoor Adventures Around St. George, Utah
You guys, Southern Utah, and specifically St. George, may just be the most underrated, beautiful corner of America. Flanked on all sides by conservation areas, national parks and state parks, St. George is this rare city of its size where state and national parklands literally surround it. The headliner: Zion National Park. Yet, there are tons of other great start parks and outdoor adventures around St. George.
If you’re a regularly WTG reader, or follow me on social media, then you probably know how I loved my trip to St. George last year with Travel Mindset for a photography meet-up, s’mores and adventuring. So I’m back today, partnering with Travel Mindset and Visit St. George, to share more of the best outdoor adventures around St. George, Utah. Get the 4-1-1 below.
Hike The Narrows in Zion National Park
The Narrows in Zion National Park may just be one of the most unique, extraordinary national park trails in America. But there are some things you need to know before you go. First, and foremost, The Narrows is less a trail and more like a river; yes, you’re hiking a river. Therefore, you’ll have to pack, and plan accordingly for walking through water. Regarding permits, if you hike The Narrows upstream as far as Big Spring, you won't need a permit. However, the Top Down Hike from Chamberlain Ranch requires a permit. Before you plan it, make sure you visit the Zion NPS website for info about openings and closures, what to wear, what to bring and more.
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One important aspect of the #ZionPledge is to, "Never enter a narrow canyon when there is a potential for flash flooding." Today the forecast in Zion shows chance of precipitation at 90% and flash flood potential of PROBABLE. Stay safe! Thank you to @aragorn1513 for taking the Zion Pledge. #Zion #Storm #FlashFlood #Narrows #TropicalStorm #Rain
Beyond The Narrows, Zion National Park is home to amazing hiking trails, such as Angel’s Landing and Observation Point, both of which are particularly great during the off-season. If you do one hike in Zion National Park, I’d recommend Observation Point. The hike is 8 miles all total, ascending more than 2,000 feet, but trust me, the views are worth it. Depending on when you hike, you’re likely to be in direct sunlight all day, so I’d highly recommend sunscreen and plenty of water. End your day with craft beers at Zion Canyon Brewing Company, which sits at the base of Zion Canyon. Après-hike anyone?
Paddle Sand Hollow State Park
While St. George is known for Zion National Park, perhaps one of the most unique things about it is how many state parks surround the city. One such state park is Sand Hollow State Park, which is this beautiful contrast of blue waters, red-sand beaches and wavy red sandstone. To be a state park, there’s so much to do here, including hiking, horseback riding, camping and ATVing on the more than 6,000 acres of sand dunes. However, the coolest activity, literally, is renting a paddleboard or kayak to paddle Sand Hollow Reservoir. Rentals are available at the Beach At Sand Hollow (BASH). Alternatively, unique to Sand Hollow State Park is diving and snorkeling, which is available from May through October at The Dive Shack.
Go camping, for free
One of my favorite all-time U.S. travel hacks is free camping, which you’re able to do on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. And there are few states better for BLM camping than Utah, which is home to 23 million acres of public land. So how does free camping on BLM land work? In short, camping is allowed on most BLM land for up to 14 days, doing what's referred to as “dispersed camping.” Dispersed means there are no services, like trash removal or bathrooms, so you’ll have to clean up and take with you whatever you bring in.
The St. George Field Office maintains a couple campgrounds that require a fee, but there is tons of BLM land around St. George that's free to use. I’d recommend contacting the St. George field office for tips and recommendations of where to camp, as there are restrictions in certain areas (this map is a good starting place). Additionally, this post from The Outbound Collective has some BLM camping recommendations for Southern Utah. Above all, make sure you follow Leave No Trace guidelines.
Explore Yant Flat
Yant Flat is way the freak out there and way the freak beautiful. Honestly, I can write about it and show you photos all day long, but it won’t do Yant Flat justice. In short, Yant Flat, aka Candy Cliffs, is this landscape of wavy, brightly-colored sandstone that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s kind of like Utah’s version of The Wave, for those familiar with The Wave in Arizona. Once you drive out to Yant Flat, located north of St. George in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, you'll have a one-mile, flat hike until you reach the sandstone formations and cliffs. Once you’re to the cliffs themselves, you could easily spend all day exploring the wavy formations. Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that you may notice quite a few dispersed camping sites along the drive as you get closer to the parking area for Yant Flat.