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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

We here at ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours like to think of ourselves as avid outdoor adventurers, and being only a short 35-minute drive away from Zions National Park, we have spent our fair share of time there. If you are an outdoor adventurer making your way to Zion’s National Park this year we have a few “must do’s” we think you should add to your itinerary.

Hiking

One of the things that makes Zion’s so great is the many hiking trails located in and around the park. Whether you are an avid mountain climber, or someone who prefers more leisurely strolls in the mountains, Zion’s has a hike for you. An easier hike to check out would be the Canyon overlook, it is short and sweet, but provides truly spectacular views. A couple of our other favorites are the Narrows (ranges from moderate to difficult depending on how far you hike) and weeping rock (short trail but has a steeper incline), both of which provide unique water elements that you will for sure want to see! For more details and information on our favorite hikes, check out this blog article.

Camping

There isn’t much better than sleeping under the stars on a warm summer night. If you like camping out, you will love the astonishing locations the park offers. Most camp sites in and around the park are fairly inexpensive, but they are typically reserved about six months in advance. Check out this listing of some of the available camp sites here.

Horseback riding

Riding a horse through the great canyons of Zion’s National Park provides a type of tranquil nostalgia reminiscent of an old western movie. There is something about riding horseback through the park that we just can’t seem to put into words. It is a great activity for the whole family and is an excellent way to unplug from technology for a while.

Food

Let’s be honest, the best vacations are the vacations that are meticulously planned around food. When it comes time to eat we have a few places to recommend. If you like a casual more laid-back environment we suggest The Flying Monkey, they have a large selection of beer on tap, fantastic brick-oven fired pizzas and breads, and we highly recommend the hummus (seriously, this is one of those musts). If you are looking for something a little more upscale be sure to get a steak at the Anasazi grill. Be careful though, they cook everything on lava rock which might just spoil regular grill cooking for you. For more restaurant suggestions click here.

Van Tours

A Van tour is an excellent way to keep the adventure going after a morning hike. You get to relax in an air-conditioned 4×4 van while an experienced guide takes you to awe inspiring locations that many locals aren’t even aware are in their back yard. These tours are jam packed with Petroglyphs, geological wonders, historical sites, and even dinosaur tracks. These tours can take nine people per van so they are a perfect family friendly adventure. For more information on Van tours click here.

We wish you luck on your next Zion’s adventure and hope you enjoy our suggestions. If you know of a Zion’s must that we didn’t include, be sure to mention it in the comments!