Best Places to Live + Play: St. George, Utah
National Geographic Adventure announces this year’s top 50 adventure towns,
state-by-state. Text by Dan Koeppel
Scale Wild Red Rock in St. George
- Population: 67,614
- Median home price: $319,000
St. George, a mellow desert oasis with Zion National Park right out the back door, is officially the fastest growing small city in the U.S. (Since 2000 its population shot from 49,663 to 67,614—and counting.) The community’s mix of red rocks devotees and East Coast transplants comes for the red-rock-meets-alpine setting, perpetual sun, and progressive mindset. A wholesome spirit pervades—there’s just one liquor store in town—but the litany of white-knuckle activities nearby livens things up.
Zion National Park, 30 miles (48 kilometers) east, is the glamour destination, but an even closer asset is
Snow Canyon State Park’s vermilion bluffs and blackened lava flows, packed with some 170 technical climbing routes and hiking trails. Trek the classic four-mile (six-kilometer) White Rocks Trail to Lava Flow Overlook, a white-sandstone amphitheater, and hike the Petrified Dunes Trail along massive sandstone outcrops. A ten-minute drive back to town, and you’ll be noshing on fiery tacos at local hot spot Irmita’s, then taking in a show under the stars at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts.
The Adventure Radius
In town: Scout endangered desert tortoises at the 62,000-acre (25,091- hectare) Red Cliffs Desert
Within 50 miles (80 kilometers): Gooseberry Mesa’s singletrack rivals the variety and beauty of Moab’s—without all those hill climbs.
Within 100 miles (161 kilometers): Trek Cottonwood Wash, a brightly lit slot canyon along the Paria River beneath steep, sunny pinnacles in Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument.
Where to stay: Green Valley Spa & Resort ($224; www.greenvalleyspa.com)
Where to eat: Try the cumin-seared scallops with tenderloin at the Painted Pony