This is another place in the universe that I can never tire of. St. George just always seems to offer something magical, and it is the gateway to Zion National Park at the southern end of the state of Utah. We enjoy both the town of St. George, as well as Zion. We also have dear friends here, Jim and Peggy, who always seem to have some tricks up their proverbial sleeves, like a new Corvette or something.
Truth be known, I am bringing my brother Bob, and his lovely wife Laura up here after a short stay in Vegas. I wanted to thank them for hosting all of the various functions, meals, and gatherings related to my Mom’s final days, and her memorial service, held in their hometown, Clovis. Traditionally, this burden falls on the oldest son, me. But since we live outside the immediate area, it fell to my brother, the only one of us four children of my Mom to stay in the area.
And the Inn at Entrada, Snow Canyon is a perfect place for Laura, aka “Spa Girl.” I remember she had quite a spa day when we were in Queenstown, New Zealand a few years back. Forget that Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. She decided she needed a spa day after a few weeks in Australia and New Zealand and nothing was going to stop her.
The Inn at Entrada has suites and rooms they call luxury casitas. It is an upscale gated resort on the edge of St. George proper. They claim to have captured the spirit of the ancient Anasazi when they built this place. That I cannot verify, except to say, you must stay here at least once in your path up north from Vegas into southern Utah. Besides the fabulous luxury spa facilities, it also has a Johnny Miller design golf course, award-winning Kokopelli restaurant, and beautiful grounds that match the red rock surroundings of Snow Canyon. The spa, along with the sports and fitness center also has indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, and volleyball (in the snow?). Each unit has a garage with remote control, and a bevy of electronics running the indoor activities.
The rest of us will either hang out at the Inn, or most likely, head up to Zion National Park, not more than an hour away, as I recall. Of course, we must make a stop or two at our favorite place in St. George, Nielsen’s Frozen Custard.
John Wesley Powell first visited Zion (maybe while finding the Grand Canyon) on the first scientific expedition of southern Utah in the 1860s. But Zion was inhabited as long as 12,000 years ago, though their animals, like the giant sloth, and mammoths, died out about 8000 years ago. The first inhabitants then turned to mid-sized animals and gathering. Over the next 1500 years, the Anasazi turned to farming, with the different elevations allowing a diverse range of crops, with a steady supply of water.
For me, Zion is all about the red geologic formations that make it uniquely Southern Utah. This area began as perhaps a large desert, whose sand dunes are now Zion’s famous sculpted and colorful 2000 foot cliffs. A light dusting of snow makes an unforgettable red and white canvas for even the photographically challenged (those using a cell phone camera).
Zion holds 67 species of mammals, 29 species of reptiles, 7 species of amphibians, 9 species of fish, and 207 species of birds. The big red cliffs towering above us are home, at least part-time, to the endangered California condors. Also, the endangered Mexican spotted owl make Zion their home in highest density anywhere. It is also home to the often misunderstood tarantula. The Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel, dedicated on July 4, 1930, was the longest tunnel in the U.S. at 1.1 miles.
This would not be southern Utah if not for Kolob Arch, deep in the park’s hidden and smaller canyons. But its remoteness and inaccessibility has challenged climbers and photographers alike. Many believe it is the world’s largest (it is not) free-standing arch. But equally good is the trail leading to Kolob, said to be one of the most beautiful hikes (seven miles to Kolob) in Zion. As you know, arches are the most stable architectural form of load bearing structure. Perhaps when we have more time, or when the temperature is lower, Kolob would be a good hike.
Recently, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act in law on March 30, 2009. It designated 124,406 acres of Zion National Park as Wilderness. This designation adds another layer of protection to the wildlands of Zion National Park. The Wilderness designation means: “…there shall be no commercial enterprise and no permanent road within any wilderness area designated by this Act and, except as necessary to meet minimum requirements for the administration of the area for the purpose of this Act (including measures required in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area), there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.”
I love the National Parks in southern Utah. They are a true American treasure, seen nowhere else in the world.