Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Location: Saint George, Utah
Date: March 12, 2011

The reserve and Pine Valley Mountains from the reserve's southeast boundary

Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (also known as Red Cliffs Desert Reserve) encompasses red rock formations on BLM land at the northern boundary of St. George and at the base of the 10,000'+ Pine Valley Mountains.  The national conservation area was created in 2009 along with over 129,000 acres of BLM wilderness in Washington County, Utah.  Two of the wilderness areas, Cottonwood Canyon and Red Mountain, are within the reserve.

Cottonwood Canyon

Other than the red rock canyons and cliffs, the reserve was formed because it is the the most northeastern section of the Mojave Desert.  Many animals that are rare to Utah can be found within the reserve, including sidewinder rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, verdins, chuckwallas, and the threatened desert tortoise.

Cottonwood Canyon

There are over 130 miles of non-motorized trails within the reserve that go to a variety of areas and can be used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.  Maps can be found on the reserve's website.  This is a very interesting area with far fewer visitors than nearby Zion National Park.  The weather in mid-March was fantastic and in the 70s, but it is very dry year round with no water available within the reserve, and temperatures average over 100 degrees in the July.  Also see my post on the adjacent Quail Creek State Park.

Rock wren

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