Zion in the Winter

Zion in the winter – yes or no?

For avid hikers who can handle the cold, it’s a definite yes. The beauty of Zion National Park during the winter makes it almost a different park than you see during the warm months of the year, when visitors flood the park to enjoy the beauty and warmth of southern Utah. This lightly frosted landscape in the winter has a sense of untouched beauty to it, when park visitation numbers go down, and fewer people trek the sloping trails of Zion – especially after Christmas, from January-March.

For those who are less inclined to thrive in the cold, hold off on Zion until the spring, or keep your eye on the warmer days of winter and go during that time. While Southern Utah does flaunt mild, short winters, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get cold in Zion – this desert landscape still braces itself against cold temperatures during the late fall through early spring. The weather and temperatures fluctuate in the winter, so check the weather before your trip so you can pack and dress accordingly.

Be wary of ice

When visiting Zion during the winter, the most important part is to be wary of ice on the trails. While most trails are open year-round, they can be icy and slick once the sun melts the snow. It’s important to check the Zion Canyon Visitors Center beforehand to get an update on these trails, especially for trails like Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, Riverside Walk, Observation Point, and Emerald Pools, that experience sun and moisture and can lead to dangerous hiking conditions.

Get the right gear to stay dry

With proper gear, camping overnight in the park is feasible as well – even in a tent during the winter months. It’s important to use waterproof gear designed for zero-temp weather to accommodate for the cold, staying warm and dry even during the coldest nights of the year.

Be aware of road closures

The Zion and Springdale shuttle system is not in operation during the winter season, so private vehicles can drive through Zion Canyon using the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Keep your eye on the Current Conditions Page to check for any roads that are closed due to bad weather. Although Zion roads and the roads leading to Zion are open year round, like Kolob Terrace Road, Kolob Canyons Road, and Mt. Carmel Highway, these roads all experience frequent closures due to snow and other hazardous conditions during the winter, so it’s important to check this beforehand and plan your route accordingly.

Zion Winter Season Hours of Operation

Zion Canyon Visitor Center
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

Zion Canyon Wilderness Desk
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

Zion Human History Museum
Closed during winter

Kolob Canyons Visitor Center
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day

Christmas Events in St. George – 2017 Guide

The holidays are here, and St. George is celebrating the Christmas spirit with events occurring all throughout December. With the Jubilee of Trees and Santa’s Workshop Christmas Gift Show at the Dixie Convention Center already done, mark your calendars for events to bring the entire family to before Christmas.

Christmas in the Canyon

This year, Tuacahn is celebrating the holidays in multiple ways. Christmas in the Canyon, running from November 24-December 23, where Tuacahn’s campus is decorated in Christmas lights and music on the plaza. Hot chocolate and other concessions are available as you walk around and look at the Christmas lights, along with an open fire. Gifts for the holidays are also available. A live nativity runs from 7-8 p.m. for $2 a person, where acting, music, and narration combine thanks to volunteer groups that put on the story of the birth of Christ. The nativity also includes live animals, such as camels, in this performance. An ice-skating rink surrounded by the beautiful red cliffs of Tuacahn is open to the public for $7 a person ($5 per person for a group) from 5-9 p.m. Santa Claus is available from 6-8 p.m. on these nights, as well as a holiday train ride on the Old Salty Train, thanks to Ruby’s Inn. For more info, visit tuacahn.org.

Fairy Tale Christmas 

Also at Tuacahn this year is Fairy Tale Christmas, a musical by Scott & Michael McLean based on their award-winning book. This musical was performed at the 2016 New York Fringe Festival, and is now coming to Tuacahn’s stage, telling the creative tale of classic villains from fairy tales attempting to kidnap Santa Claus. This musical runs from December 1-23. For seating and other information, visit tuacahn.org.

‘A Christmas Story’ The Musical 

The St. George Musical Theater at the St. George Opera House will be putting a creative twist on the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. Tickets are $17-21 and can be purchased at sgmusicaltheater.com. Hosted at the historic opera house on main street, this musical runs Thursdays-Saturdays and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. through December 16.

The Forgotten Carols

This classic play put on by Dixie State University, also organized by Michael McLean, tells the story of a nurse whose life is changed by a patient who retells the story of Christ. It is suggested for children 5+, and children over the age of 2 require a ticket. This play will be available  Dec. 6 – 7 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance at 4 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the Cox Auditorium, 350 S. 700 E. in St. George. Tickets are available at tickets.dsutix.com and range from $19.50 – $36.50.

The Nutcracker Ballet 

For the 24th year, Westside Studio of Performing arts here in St. George will be putting on their annual production of the classic Nutcracker Ballet, complete with mice, soldiers, and the Sugar Plum Fairy with the talented cast and dancers of this local studio. Directed by Sheila Bailey, the performances for this run from December 15-19 at 7:30 p.m., and a matinee showing December 16 at 2 p.m. The ballet will be held at Desert Hills High School and is $15-20 to attend and can be purchased here.

2017 St. George Christmas Light Spectacular 

HedgeHog Electric is hosting a new tradition in St. George and Washington County this year – an event recognizing the most festive of lights in the county, with a provided map for viewers to drive around and look at the lights of local homeowners who are dedicated to creating beautiful light scenes in their yards. You could win a $300 Visa gift card if you go on the tour and post a picture to Facebook or a social media site by using the hashtag #StGeorgeChristmasMap. The Kuhn home – a home that won $50,000 from ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight – will be available this year, with activities that go on throughout the month as well. For more info on the Christmasn Light Spectacular, including the map, click here. For HedgeHog Electric’s Facebook page, which also has details of the event, click here.

The Spirit of Christmas at DiFiore Center 

An interactive holiday puppet show will be hosted this year at the DiFiore Center, at 307 N Main St, St George. This show is great for the kids and a good way to kick off the holiday season on December 16 from 7-9 p.m. For more info, visit the website here.

GENTRI’s Finding Christmas 

A cinematic pop performance put on by the trio of tenors whose Christmas album made the iTunes top 10 holiday list next to other artists like Michael Buble and Pentatonix. GENTRI will be at Dixie State University on December 18 at 7:30 pm, with $30 reserved seating to enjoy this performance with holiday classics and more. Tickets can be purchased at tickets.dsutix.com.

Wreaths Across America Ceremony

To honor deceased veterans this holiday season, Wreaths Across America Ceremony is an event at the Tonaquint and Shivwits Paiute Cemeteries to honor Amerca’s veterans by placing wreaths on their gravesites on December 16 at 10 am. This event is freeto attend. To donate to this event, you can go to donate.wreathsacrossamerica.org to help this tradition continue to grow.

 

An Intimate Evening – A Kurt Bestor Christmas

The 30th annual A Kurt Bestor Christmas will be held at the Lorraine Boccardo Theatre at the Center for the Arts at Kayenta offer an intimate holiday gathering with a performance from Kurt Bestor – singer, songwriter, and composer. Tickets are available at kayentaarts.com for the two performances on Friday and Saturday (December 8th and 9th) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 until Nov. 27th $40 after $60 ticket includes premier seating and after party with Kurt Bestor. For more info, visit his Facebook page here.

Temple Lights and Downtown St. George Lights

One of St. George’s most welcoming sights during the holiday season is its abundance of lights in its historic district – namely the Temple, with its grounds decorated in an abundance of multicolored lights, as well as Main Street and Town Square. Once these lights turn on in the evening, take a walk through Downtown St. George to enjoy the holiday spirit the city has to offer.

Dickens Festival 

The Dickens Festival is an annual craft and shopping show with food and live entertainment. Nov. 29 thru Dec. 2, 2017 (Wednesday through Saturday) at the Dixie Convention Center from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Olde English themed shops, costumes, and fortune tellers make this event fun for the kids and unique experience this holiday season. If you’re looking for unique gifts and quality merchandise from local vendors, this festival is great for you. This event is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), $5 for children (4-12), and children 3 and under get in for free.

Temple Lights and Downtown St. George Lights

One of St. George’s most welcoming sights during the holiday season is its abundance of lights in its historic district – namely the Temple, with its grounds decorated in an abundance of multicolored lights, as well as Main Street and Town Square. Once these lights turn on in the evening, take a walk through Downtown St. George to enjoy the holiday spirit the city has to offer.

 

Georgefest – St. George’s Hub for Culture, Food, and Music

Georgefest, St. George’s once-a-month festival, is in full swing this fall. For the first Friday of every month, main street is closed off and transformed into a festival with live music, street vendors, food, booths, and more. Local businesses open their doors to the flood of locals and travelers that fill the streets during Georgefest. Not only does this event promote St. George’s historic district, it brings the community together and celebrates the culture that thrives in St. George and Southern Utah.

Georgefest is a hub for local crafters and artists to showcase and sell their work to the public. Different local music artists are hosted for each Georgefest, playing throughout the evening. While the weather is cooling down significantly, what better way to spend a crisp fall evening than with friends, good food, and live music? The Desert Pulse Jazz Garden (21+), has a $5 entry and is great for trying local beers and brews, but Georgefest itself is free to attend.

For visitors in town after a long day of hiking in Zion National Park or Snow Canyon, Georgefest is a perfect way to wind down and enjoy the culture and food that St. George has to offer. While you can enjoy the local antique shops, art galleries, retail shops, cafes, and restaurants located in Downtown St. George, there are activities and fun for the kids as well. This non-profit event occurs from 6-10 pm every first Friday of the month and has multiple artists throughout the night playing at both stages – the Main Street stage, and at the Jazz Garden.

The purpose of this event is to promote St. George’s downtown historic district, and to celebrate the best of southern Utah with all of you!  The goal of the event is to establish a rich sense of community in the heart of the City, to celebrate local artists, and to provide a clean and safe nightlife entertainment option for local residents and tourists. The event features a signature street concert, buskers, and goods sold by local artists, farmers and merchants.Engagement components include the Passport to the City program, George Jr. Treasure Hunt for Kids, and the George Jazz Garden at Ancestor Square.

    – Organizers of Georgefest

The executive director of the event, Melynda Thorpe, has many years of experience in branding across Southern Utah. Thorpe is a brand strategist at SUU’s Marketing Communications Office, and worked as director of publications and creative services at UVU. She is also on the board of directors of Arts to Zion, showing deep roots to Southern Utah and a dedication to the culture here.

“It is my hope that this beloved monthly event will remain a permanent part of the southern Utah entertainment landscape for many years to come,” Thorpe said about Georgefest.

For more information on Georgefest, visit georgestreetfest.com. For vendors, music artists, and volunteers interested in participating in this event, click here for more information. 

Hidden Gem Hikes Around St. George

Red Mountain Trail 

Just 12 miles north of Bluff Street on SR-18, Red Mountain Trailhead is a quiet but stunning trail that overlooks Snow Canyon. This overlook has a similar feel and grandeur overlook of Angel’s Landing, without the danger of the infamous last stretch of narrow rock and chains required to traverse the last portion of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.

The trailhead starts just past Diamond Valley, with a grand view of the Pine Valley Mountains. A small marked sign points westward as you approach the turnoff, and the trailhead starts close to SR-18. Bathrooms and a parking lot are available at the turnoff. Once you start on the hike, a slight incline on a rocky trail continues as you travel in a southwestern direction. The further you go on the trail, the forest of juniper and pinion becomes denser. While the trail is easily distinguishable most of the time, if it’s difficult to tell what direction to go at any time, continue to take the wide, left-ward paths.

Occasional cairns (stacks of rocks, and in this case, red sandstone) will mark the direction of where to go in situations where it’s a little harder to discern. Overall, the trail is fairly even and steady, without any sections that are overly steep or require you to climb on your hands and knees. Towards the end of the trail, the trail becomes sandy, which can be difficult to walk through for the elderly, small children, or those who have a hard time walking. Once you have reached the end of the trail, you are greeted with a stunning view overlooking the dead center of Snow Canyon from the back (north) side of the state park. White and red sandstone cliffs tower over the gentle terrain at the bottom of the canyon, and in the distance, you can view parts of Ivins, Santa Clara, and St. George. To head back, take the same route back to the trailhead.

This trail is 4.8 miles roundtrip, and generally takes 1 hour and 15 minutes each way (2.5 hours round trip) at a steady pace. At a slower pace, this hike will take closer to 3 hours. Bring plenty of water, as there are no water sources along the trail. This is an easy to moderate trail that’s free, beautiful, and great for all hiking skill levels  

Red Mountain Trail, Overlooking Snow Canyon

Anasazi Trail in Ivins

Another beautiful trail with little traffic is the Anasazi Valley Trail, or Tempi’po’op trail. This hike is an easy trail as well, and 3.5 miles roundtrip. For those interested in Native American history, this trail showcases plenty of petroglyphs – right in the open. This can also be an educational hike for the kids.

To get there, head west on Sunset boulevard for 7 miles. On the left, a sign will say, “Santa Clara River Reserve – Anasazi Valley Trailhead”. After a short dirt road that is less than a few hundred feet long, the trailhead will be on your left. Again, bring plenty of water on this hike, especially if it’s during the hotter months of the year.

There are two trails available to get to the top. The trail to the right is the shorter, steeper trail, although it is encouraged to take the left trail, as this one is the official trail and is easier for kids and stroller access. At the top of the trail, not only are there a striking array of petroglyphs to view, but old Anasazi Farmstead ruins are at the top of the trail as well. Not only does this hike have historical and cultural value, but it’s a beautiful hike showcasing Southern Utah’s red rock as well.

St. George Marathon 2017

The 2017 St. George marathon is coming up on October 7th, and is one of the city’s busiest weekends of the year. Bringing in local and national runners alike, this marathon is the 13th largest marathon in the U.S. The St. George marathon is nationally-recognized and included in the Top 20 Marathons in the USA, […]

St. George Airport Looking to Expand to Los Angeles

With growth in St. George and surrounding areas comes a growth in its travel industry as well, specifically St. George’s regional airport. So far, flights to and from St. George can be made to Salt Lake City, Denver, and as of last year, Phoenix. The newest flight the city is pushing to make is a daily flight to Los Angeles – more specifically, a 50 passenger flight that would depart in the morning and return in the evening, so that passengers flying for business could return on the same business day.

A spokesperson from SkyWest, Marissa Snow, hasn’t confirmed a St. George to Los Angeles flight, but did state that the St. George airport was making good growth. Under this proposed agreement, however, flights would need to start before September 6, 2017. Local governments have been pushing for this flight to expand St. George travel horizons. This subsidy agreement would run until February of 2019, and officials have agreed to split the possible startup cost losses of $450,000.

In 2015, as Utah’s third busiest airport (behind Salt Lake City and Provo), the airport was renamed from a “municipal” airport to a “regional” airport. After the airport was moved from atop the Black Hill (the mesa that sits in the center of St. George) to a more spacious location on the southeast edge of St. George for safety reasons and to funnel in more traffic. This new 1,204 acre airport was opened in 2011 and was a $160 million project, the largest in St. George to date. Currently, the only commercial airline that flies to and from St. George is SkyWest Airlines, on behalf of Delta Airlines and United Airlines.

The airport serves as a hub for travelers coming to national parks in the Southern Utah region like Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Zion alone in 2016 received over 4 million visitors, and that number continues to steadily rise by a few hundred thousand visitors every year, even passing Yellowstone National Park in the number of annual visitors in 2016. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the St. George Airport had about 59,000 fliers, which was an 8.7% increase from 2013, and growth has continued since then. A new flight to Los Angeles would mean even more fliers shuffling through the St. George Airport, leading to more growth and opportunities for the region.

An Enterprise car rental location is available at the airport. St. George also offers multiple shuttle services to and from Salt Lake City, Orem, Las Vegas, Cedar City, Mesquite, and Zion National Park, to name a few, making it easy to travel around the region from the airport. Both shuttle services (St. George Express and St. George Shuttle) offer free wifi, charging stations, and bottled water on their trips to make your trip as comfortable as possible.

Click here to visit the St. George Regional Airport (SGU) website.

St. George Golf Courses

St. George is one of Utah’s best cities to golf due to its stunning views, warm weather, and nearly a dozen golf courses to choose from. It’s common for retirees from all over Utah, Nevada, and Arizona to choose St. George because of it’s clean air, family-friendly community, and great places to golf and spend time outdoors. Not planning on retiring? St. George is a great place for a short weekend golfing trip or making weekly trips to the golf course. Below, we’ll list out the golf courses we have in the area and what makes each of them unique, and which one might be the best fit for you.

Sand Hollow Golf Club

The crown jewel among golfing in St. George, the Sand Hollow Golf Club was named the #1 public golf course in Utah by GolfWeek. Surrounded by vibrant pink sand dunes, this perfectly manicured oasis looks as if it were placed in the middle of a painting. Framed by the majestic red rock cliffs of Sand Hollow Reservoir and a peek at Zion in the distance, this luxurious golf course offers a full bar and restaurant in the Clubhouse and offers rental clubs. This course offers Hickory Clubs for those who like wood-shaft golf clubs to play old school. Because it’s so close to the reservoir, you can rent ATVs, boats, as well as biking, hiking, and fishing gear. To get more info, visit their site here.

Entrada at Snow Canyon

For views of a diverse environment and a golf course that’s been thriving for over 20 years, Entrada has been carving its name in places to be in St. George since 1996. This serene golf course is 10 minutes outside of St. George, surrounded by ancient black lava flows that stand out drastically against the surrounding red hills and soft pink dunes. While Snow Canyon State Park brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, Entrada’s beautiful golf courses sit right outside this famous state park. This golf course flaunts top-notch playing conditions and offers a 4 star luxury hotel on the property, so you don’t have to travel far to the course if you’re coming from out of town. Entrada was rated #2 in public golf courses in Utah by GolfWeek. For more info, visit their site here.

The Ledges Golf Club

This secluded golf course was designed to be a part of the desert – to provide a luxurious golfing experience without drawing from the beauty of this famous desert landscape, planted right outside the north end of Snow Canyon State Park. It’s no surprise why this golf course hosts so many weddings throughout the year. Brides and wedding planners alike are drawn to its rugged beauty with white sandstone cliffs and fiery rock ridges that make this place as colorful as it is beautiful, while golfers are drawn to its challenging course and amenities. Private villas, a full service bar and restaurant, and vacation rentals make this a one-stop golf course, designed by Matt Dye, a member of the world famous Dye course designing family. For more info, visit their site here.

Sky Mountain Golf Course

For a true taste of the beauty the American Southwest has to offer, Sky Mountain is an alluring golf course to anyone looking for attractive rates and beautiful views. Between Zion National Park and Red Cliffs State Park, this lush course has a mesmerizing view of the red, white, and pink cliffs that tower above the landscape. Play your final holes along a lava rock plateau or watch the sun set over the course from the Sky Mountain Grill. This course also offers a full service golf shop for repairs and other needs. There’s a reason why locals have been finding themselves at this course since 1994. For more info, visit their website here.

Red Hills Golf Course

Dixie Red Hills Golf Club, though only 9 holes, is one of St. George’s most lush and secluded courses. Tucked between the vibrant red rocks of Dixie, this golf course is a hidden oasis that is often viewed as a local gem to golfers. This friendly, relaxed atmosphere is perfect for a quick golfing trip for the day or for the weekend. As the first golf course developed in St. George in the 1960’s, one of its best features in comparison to other courses is the hundreds of old trees like cottonwoods and mesquite trees scattered throughout the course that provide shade during the hot summer months. For more info, visit their website here.

Coral Canyon Golf Club

Coral Canyon has been named the #4 golf course in Utah. Coral Canyon puts you in the heart of the desert, encompassing you in the rugged beauty of sagebrush, red rock, and memorable golf holes. This golf course has been nestled in at the base of Pine Valley Mountain since 2001, providing St. George with a high end, high quality golfing experience. GolfGetaways called it “a must play in St. George.” A 7,029-yard, par-72 layout surrounded by unique colors and rock formations right outside Zion’s door makes Coral Canyon a must-see for avid golfers anywhere. For more information, visit their website here.

Green Spring Golf Course

The mother golf course that gave St. George its reputation for high end golf, Green Spring opened in 1990, drawing people from all over the area to golf lush greens amidst red rocks and grand mountains. Nearly thirty years later, Green Spring is still a popular place to golf right in St. George, just a five minute drive from downtown. Despite its closeness, Green Spring still provides a peaceful, secluded golf scene with a desert landscape, including natural wetlands and old cottonwood trees that make it stand out from other golf courses in the area. For more info, visit their website here.

Southgate Golf Club

For inexpensive rates right off of I-15, Southgate is home to a sprawling golf course that artistically incorporates the Santa Clara River winding through its course. Southgate is on the back side of the Black Hill, a towering mesa settled into the heart of St. George. This location is not only convenient, but beautiful as well, with views of Snow Canyon and red mesas in the north. This course is a par-71 layout, making it enjoyable for all levels of ability. This playable course has a relaxed environment for anyone looking for an affordable golfing experience. For more info visit their website here.

Sun River Golf Club

Part of the Sun River retirement community, the Sun River Golf Club is a player-friendly design outside of St. George that offers a quiet, serene golfing experience unlike any other. This 6,700-yard layout has a mix of short and long holes that are good practice for any skill level. After a long day of golfing, visit Hank’s Riverwalk Grill, operated by the creator of the famous Oscar’s Cafe in Springdale. These smooth greens in the Virgin River Valley provide generous fairways and an atmosphere that will keep you coming back as a regular. For more info, click here.

St. George Golf Club

As a traditional-style golf course that’s been running for over 30 years, the St. George Golf Club has a sense of simplicity to its open course, populated by many lush trees and a lake in the center. Not only is this course one of St. George’s most affordable options, it’s in a convenient location so you don’t have to drive outside of St. George to get there. This terrain has gentle, sloping greens perfect for walking. For an inexpensive golfing experience that provides a good challenge for golfers without being too straining or demanding, St. George Golf Club is a good pick for you. For more info, visit their website here.

SunBrook Golf Club

Earning itself a spot in GolfDigest’s Top 50 Municipal Courses, SunBrook offers 27 unique holes with a good view of Snow Canyon State Park and red sandstone cliffs in the distance. This widespread golf course has been running since 1990, bringing in visitors and locals alike. Comprised of The Point Nine, a short run with a desert landscape; The Woodbridge Nine, named after its fifth hole and has a beautiful view of a lake and bridge; and The Black Nine, with greens tucked between black lava rock, each of these runs are both memorable and playable. For more info, visit their website here.