Things to do / Travel Guide
With everything from dinosaur tracks and Native American rock art to Mormon historic sites, visitors to southern Utah have plenty to explore and grab their attention. Bear in mind that the Dinosaurs, Native Americans and Mormons did not coordinate with each other and these sites are spread out over quite a distance.
Historic Sites in St. George
An important historic Mormon site in the area is the Brigham Young Winter Home. Mormon Church president Brigham Young built the house when health problems called for a warmer climate to call home. Today, the preserved house is restored and includes much of its original furnishings and artifacts. The house is open for daily tours and is located on 89 West Street in St. George.
St. George Live Historic Tours let you travel through time as live actors in periodic costume recount the history and events of this southwest region. Based at the Pioneer Center for the Arts in St. George, these tours really help the history of the region come alive.
The St. George Temple, is the first Mormon temple built in Utah. The visitor's center and the temple grounds are open to the public.
The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm is a pretty amazing site for amateur paleontologists and other city folk. 200 years ago, this area was a lake and prints of dinosaurs swimming and walking through the area have been very well preserved. You can even see impressions of their skin.
Historic Sites near St. George, Cedar City and Zion National Park, Utah
Spread over a large area and a long period in history are some interesting historical sites:
- Southeast of Zion National Park, in Kanab one can feel the spirit of life in Utah's “Dixie” (named that because they grew cotton, or at least tried to) at the Kanab Heritage House. This is not the typical pioneer settlement; this was the residence of one of the affluent early Mormon residents of the area.
- West of Pine Valley, actually quite a drive from Zion (75 miles) is the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, marked by a monument
- North of Zion, past Cedar City, is the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs, evidence of prehistoric Native American life in the area.
- In Santa Clara, west of St. George visit the restored home of early Mormon pioneer, Jacob Hamblin.
- Old Fort Pearce honors Captain John Pearce, who led Mormon troops during the Black Hawk War with Ute Indians from 1865 to 1869. Much of the fort has survived, but requires some effort to get to. It is located well off the main roads, 12 miles southeast of St. George.
Historic Sites near Capital Reef National Park, Utah
- Fruita, located right in Capital Reef National Park has several preserved structures documenting the life of the early Mormon settlers.
- Starting from Escalante, west of Capital Reef, the Hole-In-The-Rock road, continues for 61 miles to the shores of Lake Powell. Besides offering amazing opportunities to enjoy nature, it is also follows the difficult route of Mormon pioneers heading south.
Pipe Spring National Monument, the Arizona Strip
From Native Americans and Mormon pioneers to the plants and wild animals that currently dominate the region, Pipe Spring has been a life-giving water source in a sparse climate. Today, Pipe Spring National Monument preserves the historic fort known as Windsor Castle and other structures built by Mormon pioneers near the year-round spring in the southern Great Basin Desert of the Arizona Strip. The monument itself was established in 1923 by President Calvin Coolidge in order to commemorate the settlement and exploration of the southwest. A visitor center and museum provide information on the history of the site as well as opportunities for guided or self-guided tours of the historic buildings, Windsor Castle, orchards, gardens and trails to help familiarize visitors with the site. Living history demonstrations and events also spice things up.
Historical Sites in Moab, Zion, Bryce, Arches National Parks in Southern Utah and the Arizona Strip