The BEST Hikes in St.George, Utah are located in Southern Utah, near the Utah/Nevada border. This area offers a mecca of outdoor activities! Hiking, biking, climbing, waterfalls, rock art, petroglyphs, cool rock features, you name it, St.George has it! Visiting this area is great year-round, but my favorite time is in Spring & Fall. After months of being in the cold, wet winter, I'm ready for some sun! Winter can also be a great time to visit when you need a weekend escape from the snow, and need a little warmth, as temperatures are typically 20-30F degrees warmer than the SLC area and is also typically free of snow.
The Cottonwood Wash Trail is located in the heart of the San Rafael Swell, which offers two arches and several petroglyphs to view. It's a very easy hike, as the canyon is flat. The hardest part is walking up a 100 ft section of trail leading to the petroglyphs. That being said, this is a great canyon to explore with kids. The best time to visit is early Spring and late Fall when the day time temps stay below 70F - in October the Cottonwoods were bursting in yellow!
Farnsworth Canyon is located in the San Rafael Swell, and offers a little something for everyone. A short slot canyon, pictographs, exploring off trail, and desert flowers in the Spring all abound. Hiking to the pictographs is only 1.5 miles one way, so even kids can enjoy this hike and "hunt" for the pictograph. Farnsworth Canyon does extend much further, to the other side of the reef, but most people turn around at 1.5 miles. There is zero shade or water, so start early to beat the heat. The slot canyon is very easy to walk through, and nothing technical is required so it's great for beginners.
Hurst Natural Bridge is located in the San Rafael Swell, high above Ernie Canyon. There is no trail to reach Hurst Bridge, making a fun day for those who like adventuring and exploring. Make sure you have a downloaded topo map of the area, as there is no cell service. There is no shade, nor water so be prepared to be self-reliant. This is a dog friendly hike, but the sand will burn their paws if you start too late - we started hiking at 10am and I wished we had started no later than 7-8am. This hike is best during Winter, early Spring and late Fall when the temperatures have cooled off. If you like hiking to lesser known ares of The Swell, this is the trail for you!
Comb Ridge is a 90-mile long Navajo sandstone ridge (or monocline) running North to South, and is home to many ancestral ruins and petroglyphs that date back around 800 years old. Comb Ridge itself has a gentle eastern facing slopes, while the west side has "teeth" that jut out and above the ridge line. Each of these "teeth" contain drainages that lead to the San Juan River. The Puebloans' lived, farmed in this area, and left behind a massive amount of ruins and artifacts. Drought, overpopulation, diminishing resources, erosion, and conflict eventually brought an end to this era.
Dinosaur National Monument (DNM) is located in both Utah and Colorado - the Utah side is just outside of Vernal, Utah and offers a large dinosaur quarry, trails, camping, and amazing scenery of the Uintah Basin and Green River. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures (mainly the Fremont), and later homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Of course the name of the game here are the dinosaur fossils. Visitors can see over 1,500 dinosaur fossils exposed on the cliff face, located inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall. It's one of the most amazing sites for Paleontologists and explorers-alike. Plan to spend at least one full day at DNM.
The Rochester Panel and Molen Reef Petroglyphs are near Emery, Utah, and consists of one very large panel of hundreds of images likely carved by the Fremont Native Americans. The vast majority of the petroglyphs have a strong Barrier Canyon influence, including animals, female/male figures, and one large rainbow-like image. Molen Reef Petroglyphs are much smaller, but still expose what the native people were contemplating. You can easily combine both in one afternoon, as the hike to the Rochester Panel is only 1/2 mile, and you can drive right up to the Molen Reef area. Kids, dogs, and casual hikers will enjoy these areas, but please respect the rules and DO NOT touch any of the petroglyphs.
The Dutchman Arch & the Head of Sinbad Pictographs are located in the San Rafael Swell - they are actually only about 1/4 and 1/2 mile north of I-70, but driving there takes some effort and a 4X4 drive car. Dutchman Arch is actually quite large, and a fun area to explore with dogs or kids. There's no hiking involved - you can park on either side of the arch.
The Swasey Cabin and Lone Warrior Pictograph are located in the San Rafael Swell west of Green River, UT. The area is rich with history that includes Butch Cassidy and "The Wild Bunch", as well as Native American rock art. The Swasey Cabin was built in 1921 with Douglar Fir logs, and belonged to Joseph Swasey and his family who farmed and ran livestock in the "heart of Sinbad Country", according to the BLM.