Dixie National Forest:
Intersection of Several Desert Ecosystems:
Dixie National Forest spans most of the area north of St. George in Washington County. Overall it covers over two million acres while crisscrossing 170 miles of Southern Utah. The Pine Valley Complex and Silver Reef Campground are two highlights of the forest in Washington County. The Pine Valley Complex is near Pine Valley Reservoir and provides many modern campsites. There is also camping at Silver Reef, and this area is of interest because it is the only known place in the country where silver is found in sandstone. People also come to the forest to hike, fish, ride ATVs, horses, and bikes. Visiting Dixie National Forest is a great diversion during a visit to the St. George area.
Washington County is home to varied populations of desert flora and fauna since the ecosystems of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Colorado Plateau converge here. Biologists have also catalogued species from the nearby Sonoran Desert as well. Under such conditions the county enjoys the presence of Joshua Trees, desert tortoises, and other species from these ecosystems. For instance, the northernmost stand of Joshua Trees is found in the Joshua Tree National Landmark, and the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve protects desert tortoises.
Kolob Terrace is a plateau that extends throughout the northeastern part of the county. Its main highlight is Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park that many people enjoy visiting for its dramatic scenery of steep and red cliffs. Mysteriously shaped hoodoos and other rock formations are strewn throughout the area, and they are great to take pictures of. Kolob Reservoir is also on the plateau and many enjoy boating, camping, and fishing there. During the winter many people come to the reservoir to cross country ski and ride snowmobiles. The plateau is also full of great hiking and biking terrain.
Red Rock Formations and Sand Dunes:
Washington County is known for its red desert landscape. Red cliffs, bridges, arches, and hoodoos are found throughout the area, and this is what draws so many people from other areas. There is no doubt that such a landscape provides a beautiful backdrop for hiking, camping, golfing, and other activities. Red sand dunes complement these rock formations; in fact, some of these rock formations were once sand dunes. Sand dunes can be found in areas like Snow Canyon State Park and Sand Hollow State Park.
Virgin River Gorge:
After the Virgin River flows from Zion National Park and past St. George it enters a gorge that begins near the Utah-Arizona border. The river bed in the gorge is steep with an average drop of 70 feet per mile, and this is steeper than where the Colorado River enters the Grand Canyon. Before the gorge, many people enjoy river running during the spring since melting snow helps produce class two, three, and four rapids. Beyond river running there is a lot of dramatic scenery in the gorge that photographers will enjoy. Interstate 15 follows the river through the gorge for 20 miles between St. George and Littlefield, Arizona.