Utah : Safety by CityUnited States - safety as a country Utah - state review
I am swept away by the awe-inspiring images of St. George and the surrounding area as I start this article.
You’ve just never seen anything like St. George, Utah, and with a 25% population increase in the past decade, I know I’m not alone in saying that.
Leave the colder weather of Northern Utah behind and enjoy the warmer side of the Beehive State.
I promise you, even the most indoorsy person won’t be able to resist a hike through one of the incredible nearby massive parks where you can walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs.
You’ll learn about hoodoos, buttes, needles, and arches.
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Zion National Park are two of the top draws to this region, and if you’ve got the time, Bryce Canyon is worth the drive.
In the town of St. George, you’ve got a simple downtown with a historical feel, and unique shopping and dining experiences.
But really, people come here for the jaw-dropping parks.
Warnings & Dangers in St. George
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low overall risk here. The crime rates are low. The town is small and surrounded by a lot of wilderness. There are some outdoor dangers we'll discuss shortly.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Taxis and rideshares are available in St. George. Both safe options are regulated by local and state laws and come with low risk. There are shuttle services to and from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas as well. However, I would strongly recommend renting a car here. There's just too much to see outside of the city to be reliant on rides.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were 12 pickpocket reports in St. George in 2020, giving it a low risk. There aren't really large crowds of tourists to cause you to look at your wallet or purse non-stop, but a sling bag or fanny pack can help keep your belongings more secure to your body.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Flash flooding is a major concern in St. George, even though the city gets just 10 inches of rain a year. Brief yet intense storms can cause deadly flooding. Snowmelt from northern parts of Utah can also contribute to flooding concerns. There's a low risk of it happening on any given day, but when it happens it's bad. So let's call it a medium risk just to keep you hyper-aware. When you are out hiking, those canyons that are so fun to explore can quickly become rivers. In 2015, three mothers, 10 children, and seven hikers were all killed in flash flooding tragedies. There's a slight risk of an earthquake. This part of Utah gets very little snow, just 1.5 inches a year, so no major snowstorms to worry about.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There were just 10 robberies in St. George in 2020, giving a low risk of being mugged.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There's little to no risk of a terrorist attack in St. George, Utah. It's a lot of wilderness with a few small cities in between.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Scams here are targeted mostly at locals or senior citizens. There's a low risk of a tourist being a victim. If you do notice an attempted scam, contact St. George Police immediately.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Assuming a woman is following all safety precautions, there's a low risk here. I'm a woman who has hiked this area before, and you just want to make sure you make sure someone always knows where you are going and when you plan to be back. There isn't cell phone service in some wilderness areas. In town, just be careful walking around after dark and don't go into neighborhoods you aren't familiar with.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The tap water in St. George meets all EPA and state standards, giving it a low risk. There was a concern about higher levels of arsenic in the water that violated EPA standards, but in 2020 all water was deemed safe for consumption.
Safest Places to Visit in St. George
St. George, Utah has activities in town and out of town to enjoy.
In St. George
The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site is the Jurassic experience any family needs to see.
Dinosaur footprints were found on this site in 2000 and now the rare find is being shared with the world.
Utah Paleontologist, Jim Kirkland has said, “The St. George track site is not only the oldest Jurassic dinosaur site in Utah, but it is also the best basal Jurassic track site in western North America.”
Petroglyph Park is a small park with large signs of ancient history.
Large boulders in this park are covered with petroglyphs.
You are welcome to look at the markings and take pictures, but do not touch the rock.
Pioneer Park is on the north side of town, and it’s referred to as “Sugarloaf.”
You can get incredible views all the way to Arizona from here.
The St. George Utah Temple, a Mormon temple, stands prominently in the central part of town.
You can’t go into the temple if you aren’t Mormon, but you can see the extensive visitor center and learn about the history of Mormons in St. George.
There are several major shopping areas along Interstate 15 near St. George Boulevard exit.
Outside of St. George
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is the big event for the previews you’ve been getting at local parks.
It’s just eight miles from St. George.
Dynamic red cliffs dot the skyline beneath crystal blue skies.
There are more than 45,000 acres of land with 130 miles of trails.
Zion National Park is 40 minutes away through some inspiring desert landscape.
For first-timers, take the Zion Shuttle with eight stops along the way to get a lay of the land.
Stop in Springdale before entering Zion for food and supplies, as there are very few amenities in the park.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a two-hour drive around Dixie National Forest.
Here you have the largest collection of hoodoos in the world.
As one of the park rangers says in the introductory video, “I think you need a word at least as strong as magic to describe what (this) experience is like.”
People have even been known to say this park is better than the Grand Canyon.
Places to Avoid in St. George
There aren’t any bad parts of town in St. George.
Crime maps show the northeast portion has the higher number of crimes, but with crime rates already so low, that’s not saying much.
You want to avoid hiking in any area you aren’t physically fit enough for.
Each park has different difficulty levels and it will be made clear in the trail guide which hikes are easy, moderate, or difficult.
Some of the slot canyons require you to climb along the walls, with your back to one rock wall, and your feet across from you on the other.
That’s not something a beginning hiker should do.
Safety Tips for Traveling to St. George
- It’s a desert out there. The air is dry and sweat evaporates before you even notice it. You need to bring bottled water for hydration and some electrolytes to balance out what you lost. Bring twice as much water as you think you’ll need. Take it from me, being stuck in the desert miles away from your car without water is scary.
- Check with your mobile phone carrier about their coverage area in southern Utah. Some of the places to explore don’t get signals, and if something goes wrong you won’t be able to call for help. All the more reason to start slow before taking on more difficult routes.
- There’s hiking and then there’s canyoneering. That’s when you use ropes to repel up and down rocks. Zion is a popular spot for canyoneering and you shouldn’t do it by yourself. Hire a guide for first-timer help.
- If you’re heading outside of St. George, gas up when you can. There are cities here and there across southern Utah, but it’s not like many states where every other mile there’s a gas station. You need a full tank when going into any of the big parks.
- Lichen (pronounced “Like-in:) covers many rocks in the region. It can range in color from white to red to black. This covering is a mix of fungi and algae. It’s not a planet or an animal. The National Park Service describes it best, saying, “Lichen is often described as an ecosystem rather than an individual organism because lichen is actually a partnership of two organisms: fungi and algae (either green algae or cyanobacteria, sometimes both). Lichen is more durable than either fungi or algae alone.” Lichen protects the soil and plants in the area, so don’t ever step on or touch the lichen. If you destroy the ecosystem, it can take hundreds of years for it to fully recover.
- If it looks like rain is coming in, you want to leave any outdoor area near canyons or low points. Flash flooding can happen quickly here. If you’re in an area that floods quickly, like a slot canyon, you will have little time to escape.
- Zion National Park has very little respite from the sun in the summer. It can get into the triple digits with a blistering sun. Bring sunscreen and a hat.
- Check the elevation of your hike. While St. George is at 2700 feet above sea level, some of the hiking options in Utah can go above 8000 feet. That could trigger altitude sickness, especially if you are exerting yourself. Give your body time to acclimate by visiting some of the city parks above St. George first before taking on the big mountains.
- I’m a dog owner and I love to take my pups with me wherever I can. I’ve learned that some of the desert national and state parks aren’t very dog-friendly. Before you go, check with your preferred park about dog rules.
- If you’re going out stargazing at night, which I highly recommend, bring a black light with you. Scorpions come out in southern Utah at night and the bark scorpion sting is a nasty one. They glow under black light, so you’ll be able to avoid them.
So... How Safe Is St. George Really?
The biggest dangers in St. George and the surrounding areas are times when absolutely nobody is around you.
The outdoor activities are jaw-dropping, but there are dangers in the beautiful wilderness of Southern Utah.
If you haven’t seen the movie 127 Hours, I highly recommend it.
It’s a true story, with a little Hollywood creative license, of a man who went hiking in this region and a rock fell, trapping his arm.
He was stuck there with no food, water, or anyone to help him.
How did he survive?
I don’t want to ruin it, but it’s intense.
St. George is ranked as the 6th safest in Utah and the population is growing.
The biggest complaint on social forums is that there isn’t much to do in town.
There aren’t big-name restaurants with celebrity chefs.
How Does St. George Compare?
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- Visas - All the Visa requirements are addressed at the entrance to the United States. You need nothing additional to get into St. George or Utah.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the currency of this area. Credit cards are safer to use over debit cards in case of fraud, and you have very little reason to carry around large sums of cash.
- Weather - While this area doesn't get as cold as the northern part of the state, it can still drop to the 30s in the winter. The average highs are in the 50s during the winter and top out at an incredible 102°(F) in July. There can be a big swing in temperatures on a given day in the spring, summer, and fall, so always pack a jacket or hoodie. Sunscreen is a must here as well.
- Airports - The St. George Regional Airport is served by 3 airlines and one of them, SkyWest, is based there. The next closest airport, a much bigger option, is in Las Vegas at Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran International Airport). That airport is about two hours away and, let me tell you, it's an incredibly beautiful drive.
- Travel Insurance - You'll want travel insurance for your trip to St. George because trust me, you don't want to miss it. Protect your trip so that whatever is delaying your trip passes you can come to see this amazing part of the United States.
St. George Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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