Visiting Dixie – in Utah

Hurricane, UT

On Thursday morning we pulled out of Baker, NV and headed to the southeast back into southwestern Utah.   The southwest corner of the state is known as Utah’s Dixie because the Mormon pioneers who settled the St. George area came to the area to raise cotton.

We had a reservation for a week at Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, just north of St. George.  This is a nice park with full hook-ups and 50 amp electric for a reasonable price.  The park is next to a reservoir open to boating and fishing and an off road vehicle area on nearby Sand Mountain.

Sand Hill Reservoir

Red Rocks along Sand Hill Reservoir

The nearby city of Hurricane (pronounced ‘Hur-ah-kun” by local residents) was first settled in 1896.  It received its name after a whirlwind blew the top off of a buggy and the driver exclaimed, “Well, that was a hurricane. We’ll name this ‘Hurricane Hill’.”  The community was settled as part of Mormon Church President Brigham Young’s ‘Cotton Mission’, intended to establish the southern end of Utah for agricultural purposes.  The town once operated a large peach and apricot orchard for the Mormon Church, and is historically known for growing, peaches, pecans, pistachio nuts as well as small farms.  The Virgin River flows near the town but in a deep ravine, making it difficult for settlers to get the water up to the town’s fields.  The answer to that problem is the Hurricane Canal.  The canal no longer carries water and a hiking trail now runs along its banks.

When the nimble hiker learned about the canal trail, we were off in the Jeep through some dusty dirt roads to the trail head.  The trail began over flat terrain with no sign of the river or canal.

But soon the canyon came into view with the river 500 feet below us.

Yes, there is a river down below

We could see the trail winding down the canyon wall below us

We hiked along the rim of the canyon a short distance to a spot where another trail headed down into the canyon.

Beginning the descent

At one point a little help was needed along the narrow path

Red rocks above us as we descended into the canyon

After winding down the side of the canyon, we came to the edge of the Virgin River and soon came upon the remains of the old canal.

This seven mile canal is an example of the determination and perseverance of the Mormon pioneers who settled this area.  It is eight feet wide and four feet deep and was dug completely by hand.  Construction began in 1891 and was completed in 1904.  The completed canal brought water to 2000 acres of parched land and created the now successful village of Hurricane.  It served the community for more than 80 years until 1985 when a piping system was installed that bypassed the canal.

Canal wall along the cliff

Remains of one of the 12 tunnels blasted through the rock

John thought this would make a good in-school suspension room!

A few miles down the trail we hiked down to the river and enjoyed a snack before the return trip.

Canal on the left, river just visible on the right

Hiking back along the canal wall

Our goal, the canyon rim

We enjoyed this hike as it was fairly short (we hiked less than four miles) but had some elevation challenge to it.  Since we’ll be here for a week and Zion NP is only a few miles away, you can be sure the nimble hiker is busy planning more adventures.

More on that later . . .

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24 Responses to Visiting Dixie – in Utah

  1. Looks like a great campground! We only drove around the outside of the park, never went inside. Love the fact they have FHU’s!

  2. Nan & John says:

    What a great hike! This place goes on my Utah Pinterest list!

  3. Lenore says:

    We love the St. George/Zion area. Can’t wait to see where you hike in Zion and St. George. Let me recommend the great website: Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park. http://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/recommend.cfm
    He’s got all the hikes clearly described.

  4. Deb says:

    John’s correct. Actually the entire area looks desolate and perfect for isolation, yet so beautiful.

  5. heyduke50 says:

    Nice little hike you found there… we hiked Kolob yesterday and will likely head back over to Zion for the narrows trail tomorrow when it is a bit warmer

  6. pmbweaver says:

    Beautiful setting for a campground!

    Wonderful hike. Looks like a gorgeous day! Looking forward to seeing Zion again. Enjoy.

  7. Sherry says:

    Amazing that was only a 4 mile hike. Looks terrific, your pictures are wonderful. Thanks for the pictures of the campground too. I’d always wondered about staying there. Had no idea there were FHUs AND a reasonable price. Now that’s amazing. We stayed in the park for 10 days and that was great as well.

  8. Sue says:

    Wow, that park looks like a great place with great views! I thought I was going to like that hike, until…..I saw the chain assist. Nope, not for me!

    • placestheygo says:

      The views in this park surround us and we have so much room. A great place to stay.

      The whole way down to the river was a little tricky with very narrow paths and lots of steep steps and climbs. We were glad to see the top.

  9. Rick Doyle says:

    Beautiful photos as usual. What a great looking RV park – so much room!

  10. Jodee Gravel says:

    Those sites are a really good size. With our weather here they look very hot without trees, but I imagine your days are much cooler, and the openness makes for awesome views 🙂 Love that you can hike on the canal with an elevated look at the terrain. I didn’t realize it was so close to Zion from there – definitely a great spot!

    • placestheygo says:

      Jodee, it really hasn’t been too bad without trees. We were in the 80’s for the first couple days but with windows open we were fine. And, of course, the nights are very cool. Each site has a ton of room.

      Zion isn’t too far, maybe 45 mins.

  11. LuAnn says:

    Utah seems to call to the two of you and you find the most interesting places to stay and to hike. Love that new camera of yours. The images are so clear! 🙂

  12. Laurel says:

    What a gorgeous park! That’s definitely going on our list for our next trip to southwest Utah. Great hike, too. And I can’t wait to see what you do in Zion! Please take me to Angel’s Landing, because I’m never going to hike that (I’m a chicken when it comes to heights + narrow ledges).

  13. Just keep it coming nimble hiker. You know we will be spending most of our time in the West sometime soon.
    That RV park sure looks very scenic. I can just imagine the sunrises and sunsets you are enjoying.

  14. I found your post through Campendium since we are looking into staying at the Sand Hollow State Park and I love everything you’ve said about it but I was curious (since we aren’t extremely experienced towing our 34′ trailer) if the road getting to the campsite was at a steep incline/decline or if there were dirt roads to the site we should be aware of? We’d just rather be safe than sorry so I figured I’d reach out! Thanks in advance!

    • placestheygo says:

      There was no problem at all getting to the park or driving around. The park is wide open with very wide paved roads. There was a lot of room to get into the back ins and the pull thru sites were very easy. You’ll really enjoy this park:) Have fun!

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