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In the spring of 2015, Southern Utah introduced one of Utah’s first interactive desert gardens. The garden was built in an effort to teach a healthier way to landscape in the dry desert. But another main function of the garden is so parents can teach their children about the beauty of the desert. Since the garden is high up on the parkway over looking the city, the views from the garden itself are breathtaking. You can see the entire Saint George valley area and even further on the many clear (non-polluted) days we have. The Red Hills Desert Garden is a project by the Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCWCD), the City of St. George and the Virgin River Program. Not only will you see a lot of native plants but the have replicated a slot canyon where you can walk through and see the area’s endangered fish species. Along the paths you might also spy some 200 million-year-old dinosaur tracks, keep your eyes open!

Getting Here

Nestled on a sandstone bluff, this nature spot overlooks all of St. George City. The views of the historic heart of downtown, old airport hill, and surrounding mountains in the distance are sure to please. Aptly named, it’s location is on Red Hills Parkway. Easily accessed from exit 8 off of I-15 and a 1.3-mile drive northwest. Likewise, a simple navigation in Google Maps will bring you to this hidden gem in Southern Utah too. Once you arrive you will find there are bathrooms, drinking fountains and a gazebo area with shade and seating. Throughout the entirety of the space, there are signs directing you around to the different sections. As well as, covered benches and swinging seats scattered in the garden.

Flora

Over 250 different types of plants contribute to the flora of the year round garden. The indigenous plants include succulents, cacti, and many other desert species. The Beavertail Prickly Pear cactus makes an appearance throughout the design space. In Spring and Summer you will see the incredible magenta blooms of the Beavertail Prickly Pear Cactus.  The Jumping Cholla is a plant you are sure to see adventuring with ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours. Blooming red in the Fall, it’s sharp spines will “jump” on you at the slightest brush. Hence the name “Jumping.” Not the prickly cactus type? Look for the soft Coral Rain Lily. A very drought-tolerant pink colored flower that blooms in the spring. The over 250 varieties of plants at the garden are all indigenous to our local area. See if you can find all 250 different plants at the garden!

Fauna

As a result of the man-made stream that runs through the garden, the Virgin River Program was able to bring in some rare and endangered fish. The rare and beautiful Virgin River Chub is among five other fish that make up part of the fauna of this particular area. At the end of the slot canyon, the stream flows through a few viewing spaces where you can try to spot the different variety’s of fish. Typically you will see many types of lizards, squirrels, rabbits and maybe even the Mojave Desert Tortoise . The Mojave Desert Tortoise is among the species of turtles or tortoises protected and preserved in Southern Utah. Only a few feet from the Red Hills Desert Garden you will find a special conservation area for the tortoise.

Events at the Garden

The Red Hills Desert Garden involves the community with events and workshops held year-round. Xeriscaping is the highlight of the garden, known as landscaping in a “style that requires little to no irrigation.” There are special events held on the property through out the year. Mid-October, they decorate for the Scarecrow walk and Haunted Canyon. Scarecrow’s of all fashion line the sandstone walkways of the garden. Just a few days after Thanksgiving The Red Hills Desert Garden becomes a holiday wonderland. Thousands of colorful, twinkling lights glisten alongside the garden. Thousands of bright, cheery lights wrap around the 5 acres. Don’t forget to check with the City of St. George to see when events are happening at the Desert Garden.

The garden not only raises awareness of conservative water use in the desert but does a spectacular job showcasing Southern Utah’s unique flora and fauna. Hop off the plane, step out of the car, its the perfect place to go and stretch your legs with views like no other! After you’ve done that, head on over to your Full-Day Adventure with ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours and keep an eye out for these indigenous plants.

Written By: Kathryn Bowler

If you are looking for a way to put some education in your next family vacation to St George, we have a few spots that are sure to be a crowd pleaser. St George is full of historical locations, geological sites, and educational museums. Listed below are some of our favorite kid-friendly educational activities to enjoy during your next visit to St George.

Historical walking tour of St George

Taking a self-guided walking tour of the Downtown area in St George is an excellent way to learn about the towns rich history. This is the perfect educational activity for the family and includes many locations where experienced tour guides can give you in depth descriptions of each building. The Chamber of Commerce in St George also provides a detailed description of each location on their printable tour map which can be found here.

Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum

The Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum is home to a vast display of animals from all over the globe. This museum is a great educational outing for any age. They have electronically guided tours, so you are able to move at your own pace. Their dedicated space for young children will engage your youth in educational hands-on activities that will make for truly memorable experiences. This museum is a non-profit and contributes to the preservation of wildlife.

Red Hills Desert Garden

If you have been to St George you have probably heard of the “Dixie Rock”, but a newer attraction recently to make its appearance just East of the famous stone is the Red Hills Desert Garden. This garden features a wide variety of desert plants and live native fish that can be viewed through plexiglass windows in their man-made slot canyon. You can experience the whole garden in less than an hour, but we suggest taking your time learning about the many exhibits there. Be sure to watch the ground, as historic tracks are nestled in the rock between the displays! For more information visit their website here.

Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum

The western sky aviation warbird museum is a non-profit aviation museum dedicated to preserving, restoring, and displaying aircraft. Many of the planes were used in World War II or the Korean War. Most of the staff at the museum are experienced aviation experts and are happy to answer any questions you have. Many of the aircrafts are still flown today on special occasion so be sure to check with staff if there are any special events during your stay where you can see these warbirds take flight. The museum also features visiting aircrafts, so each visit could be entirely different. There is not entrance fee to the museum, but a $2 donation is suggested.

Dino Cliffs Dinosaur Tracks

The Dino Cliffs Dinosaur Tracks is a .5-mile family-friendly hike that rewards hikers with a stunning view of ancient dinosaur tracks rumored to be from the Jurassic period. This excursion is a short 15-minute drive from St George and allows for the whole family (including pets) to scramble around stunning red rock formations. Be sure to bring sunscreen as much of this hike is in direct sun.

ATV Off-Road Van Tour

This list wouldn’t be complete without including our amazing Southern Utah van excursions. These tours are extremely affordable and educational. On tour you will see petroglyphs, a gypsum mine, the historical remains of Fort Pearce, and real fossilized dinosaur tracks. The best part about visiting these locations on a tour, is you have an experienced guide who can share history and details you may have missed visiting these locations on your own. For more information on our van tours click here.