Whether you’re a seasoned adrenaline junkie or enjoying a newfound appreciation for the great outdoors, the town of St. George, Utah, will deliver a memorable adventure. Its northeast neighbor, Zion National Park, is a beloved destination for the hiking and mountain biking set, but St. George boasts plenty of epic, outdoorsy draws of its own. From rock walls begging to be climbed to flowy singletrack begging for a mountain bike to the iconic red vistas in every direction, whatever your pursuit or skill level, you’ll find something to push your limits.
Here are seven awesome adventures guaranteed to get your heart pumping in St. George, Utah.
1. Mountain Biking on Gooseberry Mesa
Move over, Moab: The mountain biking trails of Gooseberry Mesa more than hold their own, from rip-roaring singletrack to adventurous slickrock to flowy stretches alongside pine and juniper trees. Plenty of technically challenging terrain keeps MTB veterans stoked, while a spot known by locals as God’s Skateboard Park offers a divine place to hone your trick skills. And of course, this is all under an open, sunny sky with expansive views of the stunning red and white cliffs of southern Utah and Zion National Park.
Imagine flying through the air at 120 miles per hour, rolling, turning and flipping as you please with the brilliant red desert landscape of St. George and Zion National Park below. You yank the parachute ripcord and float down to terra firma, swaying in the breeze and feeling the warmth of the Utah sun. Just ask anyone who has jumped: Skydiving in southern Utah is an out-of-this-world experience that will stick with you for life. Book with a reputable outfitter like Skydive Zion, whose experienced staff have jumped thousands of times with no injuries or issues, and the adrenaline rush you feel when your feet touch the ground just may tempt you to book another dive.
3. ATVing in Sand Hollow State Park
Zip up and over sand dunes and down into valleys in one of Utah’s best ATV playgrounds. There’s never a dull moment while ATVing in Sand Hollow State Park, whose varied terrain invites exploration over rocks and dirt and dunes. Ride as fast or slow as you want, enjoying technical challenges or the simple thrill of zooming through the desert. Go during late afternoon or evening, and prepare to be awed by the sky lit up with the same brilliant red and pink hues as the desert rocks. It’s an ideal family experience, bringing everyone together in the middle of the stunning St. George desert chasing the adrenaline rush of ATV travel. Book an ATV tour for one-on-one instruction with an expert; by the end, you just might be so amped on your new wheels that you’ll want to rent an ATV and head out on your own desert adventure.
4. Ziplining Green Valley Gap
Views of the state’s spectacular desert scenery are elevated to new heights while soaring along one of the longest zip lines in Utah. Green Valley Gap offers a thrilling ride some 800 feet long, zipping from one canyon wall to another. Hike a few hundred feet up to Green Valley Gap just southeast of St. George, and sail across the valley, watching the scenery rush by. It’s a shot of adrenaline that’s safe for everyone and will leave you wanting more. Get your sense of adventure stoked on Green Valley Gap, then add to your zip list with other thrilling backcountry ziplines, like the Mojave Canyon Tour with Paragon Adventures.
5. Rock Climbing Southern Utah
Take a closer look at almost any rocky desert landscape in Southern Utah, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a climber clinging to the rock. Indeed, the St. George area is chock full of world-class climbing spots, where rock jocks show off their Spiderman (and woman) skills as they work their way up the iconic sandstone cliffs. Rock climbing offers a workout and an unforgettable adventure all rolled into one, with the breathtaking views as a fitting reward for the effort of reaching the summit. The vast variety of terrain means there are plenty of places to climb no matter what your skill level, and newbies can sign up for a guided course to learn the basics of gear, belaying, proper safety measures, and climbing techniques. After that, head out to start sending some pitches of your own.
Beneath the sand and sun of southern Utah’s deserts, more adventure awaits in the network of canyons weathered by wind and water. Explore this sandstone labyrinth that extends above and below ground, with narrow slot canyons and vast gorges. Wade through water, rappel down into caves, or scale rock walls to find out what awaits around the next twist of the smooth red-and-orange canyon walls. Some canyons are accessible via simple but spectacular hiking trails; other, more challenging options require advanced wilderness techniques and a guide. Outfitters like Paragon Adventures offer canyon tours that teach guests the basics of canyoneering during a whirlwind adventure through some of the least explored canyons in the region.
7. Rappel Down Cougar Cliffs
It’s a two-fer adventure you’ll be talking about for a while: Hike to the top of the red rocks of the Cougar Cliffs, with miles of stunning desert landscape stretching below, and then, ratchet up the return trip by rappelling down the cliff face instead of hiking back down the trail. Using nothing but rope and a few pieces of gear, you’ll take your first thrilling step over the lip of the cliff—the hardest part of the adventure—and it’s a cinch from there, as you control the speed of your descent. Go with a guide service, who will teach you all about anchors and how to set up a rappel—and then take the leap of faith and try a few rappels on your own. As part of Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Cougar Cliffs is a great place to learn, with a few low-angle rappelling options, as well as some vertical, not-for-the-faint-of-heart, 75-foot-long rappels guaranteed to get your heart pumping. Whichever option you choose, you’re guaranteed a great story to tell.
Written by Jacqui Levy for RootsRated in partnership with St. George Tourism.