Dixie has it all: mild weather, red rock hiking, proximity to national and state parks, golf—even a little cotton.
Since the early 1860s when Mormon pioneers came to the far southwestern corner of Utah to grow cotton, the Washington County area has been known as Utah’s Dixie.
The communities of St. George, Hurricane, and Springdale are situated near several national parks, state parks, and other scenic treasures that make the region so popular.
Zion National Park is known for its majestic towering rock mountains which rise to awe-inspiring heights. Zion is a lush green oasis, surrounded by startling sentinels of stone. With sheer, milky-white cliffs and pristine waterfalls, Zion is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Named after pioneers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, Snow Canyon is almost an urban park for St. George with paved bicycling trails, interesting hikes, horseback riding areas, rock climbing, and even lava tubes formed by nearby volcanic activity. Its modern campground with showers and RV hookups is one of the few year-round facilities in the state system.
Located several miles west of Hurricane, Quail Creek State Park is known for warm water, a long boating season, and decent fishing, and includes an ADA-accessible platform. Utah Place Names said the area got its name because the first white settlers found quail near the creek, long before this reservoir was built. There’s a campground here with a fantastic view of the lake and surrounding red rocks.
One of the newer state parks, Sand Hollow located between St. George and Hurricane, offers incredible variety. ATV owners love playing on the large sand dune. This miniature Lake Powell is great for boating, fishing, and swimming. A modern campground with hookups and showers as well as more primitive day-use sites along coral pink sandy beaches are available.
Utah Dixie’s climate features plenty of sunshine, low annual precipitation, and clean air. Its year-round warm weather draws folks from the colder climates up north.
Winters are relatively mild with infrequent traces of snowfall which rarely stays on the ground more than a day making the area ideal for year-round golf—ten of Utah’s best courses are located there!
Hard to surpass for its variety of scenic beauty, this area is one of the most popular resort and retirement communities in the Southwest. Winter here—the prices are reasonable.
The largest of the early Mormon settlements in Southern Utah, St. George got its name from one of the pioneers that Brigham Young sent south on a Cotton Mission from Salt Lake City—George A. Smith. Smith, an enormous man who had special chairs built to support his weight, served as the head of the Iron Mission in Cedar City.
Smith earned his title of “saint” by delivering potatoes, considered scurvy preventive if eaten raw, to parties of pioneers traveling across Utah. Young named the city in his honor calling Smith a “Latter-Day Saint”.
Saint George is a beautiful town situated in the red rocks of southwestern Utah on the precipice of some of the nation’s most terrific scenery. A noteworthy feature in St. George is the massive snow-white Mormon Temple, back-dropped by the red bluffs on the north side of town.
Other 19th-century settlements, like the Silver Reef ghost town, have been mostly lost to history. As the town’s name implies, mining powered its growth, not cotton—$10.5 million in silver was mined through the 1880s.
Silver Reef once had around 2,000 residents, including a community of 250 Chinese workers, but little remains. Most notable is the stone Wells Fargo Building, which, after surviving fires and the decline of silver prices, was refurbished in the 1980s. It now houses a small museum and art gallery and studio.
Another Dixie ghost town—Grafton—provided a backdrop for the classic Western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Like St. George, Grafton was founded during the Cotton Mission. But farming was mediocre, and after battling floods and Indian raids, settlers moved to nearby communities. By the 1930s, everyone was gone. Only six buildings now stand, but with cottonwoods and producing orchards, there’s still life in Grafton.
Make it a good day! Get outdoors!