Friday, October 01, 2021

St. George's Red Hills Desert Garden

Visiting St. George, Utah? 

 Photos and story by John Fisher

Take an hour to wander the paths of the Red Hills Desert Garden.

As I meandered trails bordered by red rock, I saw a cascade of colors I never would have believed were found in the desert - reds, browns, rust, greens, purples, yellow, white and more. I was surprised at the variety and number of plants, almost 5,000, all found in the desert. The plants are alive and vibrant, even while they use 70% less water than plants in a similar-sized botanical garden. I stepped on rocks to cross the streams and sat under the shade of Mesquite trees. (There are eight different kinds of Mesquite trees.)


Map of Red Hills Desert Garden

Stop at number 1 on the map to see a fish viewing area. In the 1,150 foot long stream or fish viewing area you may see some of the rarest fish species on earth taken from the Virgin River in southern Utah - Virgin River Chub, Desert Sucker, Speckled Dace, Woundfin, Flannelmouth Sucker, and Virgin Spinedace.

At stop 2 you'll visit a slot canyon, that is constructed to feature some of southern Utah's natural landscapes. Purple, yellow and white flowers grow from the walls.

At stop 3 you will see prehistoric fossil tracks left in the rock made millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the river and lake banks, leaving feet and tail marks in the mud. The smallest of the dinosaurs, the Scutellosaurus, was only 20 inches tall and weighed 25 pounds.

Within the park are varieties of cactus, sage, and yucca plants and a spectacular desert flower garden.


Desert Lily
Desert Lily or not?

Another location adjacent to the garden is the 62,000-acre outdoor Red Cliffs Desert Reserve which includes miles of hiking and cycling trails and over a hundred kinds of wildlife.

Also, nearby is a 52-acre pioneer park with hiking trails, slot canyons, picnic areas, fire pits, an amphitheater and some great views of the city and the St. George Temple - the first temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built in the west.

The Red Hills Desert Garden is located at 375 E. Red Hills Parkway, St. George UT 84770.  Phone 435-673-3617.

Contrast of red rock, green plants, and dragonflies

Vistors to Red Hills Desert Garden
Visitors to Red Hills Desert Garden

Meandering stream
Over 1,150 feet of streams