About St. George
St. George was founded by Mormon pioneers in the southwest corner of Utah, where the state's lowest elevations and warmest temperatures are found. The desert climate is mitigated only through the use of irrigation water from the Virgin River, and beyond the irrigated fields and residential areas, barren redrock cliffs rise to hundreds of feet, and scanty desert vegetation covers miles of rolling scenery. The Saint George area is an isolated low valley surrounded by mountains and high plateaus. To the northeast, the Virgin River makes the drop in elevation through the spectacular chasms and cliffs of Zion National Park, and, after passing through the city, it enters the Virgin River Gorge, cutting through the Virgin Mountains and into the wide deserts of Nevada beyond.
Brigham Young, president of the LDS (Mormon) Church, and colonizer of the intermountain region, organized the settlement of St. George in the 1850s as a place to grow cotton to supply the needs of the Mormon settlements. It was with great difficulty that the settlers managed to survive in this rugged environment, plagued by drought and the flooding of the river. In spite of this, they built a beautiful town, which, up until the 1980s was a quiet and rural community. The main feature of the scene was the beautiful temple, built by the pioneers in 1877, which towers over the tree-lined streets.
In the 1980s, St. George's value as a retirement and recreation destination was discovered, and for some years has ranked as the the United States' fastest growing metropolitan area. Over 100,000 people now live in the area, with an estimated 66,000 people, as of 2005, in St. George itself.
In addition to the nearby Zion National Park, St. George is a gateway to Utah's "Red Rock Country," where hiking, rock climbing, camping, and photography are popular activities.