This year Zach was required to attend the annual UMEA (Utah Music Educators Assoc.) Conference in St. George. We decided to turn it into a long weekend and enjoy some time in a warmer climate. Unfortunately for us, the weekend didn’t turn out the way we thought. We drove down early on Friday, the only sunny day in the forecast. Since the rest of the weekend was supposed to be full of rain – torrential downpours and flash floods – we opted to shorten our trip. It was disappointing since I had researched several cool hikes, but maybe that will motivate us to return later in the spring.
For our one hike I picked Yant Flat in Dixie National Forest. The region encompassing St. George and its surroundings are often referred to as Utah’s Dixie. When we first moved, it stunned me to hear this nickname regularly referenced in the nightly weather report. According to utah.gov, the name originates from early Mormon settlers of St. George. In 1861, the LDS church sent 309 families to the “Cotton Mission” to settle the area and grow cotton. Many of those families were from the Southern US. They began to call the St. George area “Utah’s Dixie” and the name stuck. There are various other rumors surrounding the nickname’s origin, and those may have some validity, but the “official” explanation seems plausible to me.
The trailhead for Yant Flat is roughly 11 miles from the Interstate, but there isn’t a gas station at the exit. We began toward the trailhead and then ended up turning back to find gas first. Gas acquired, we started out for the trailhead again. It was easy enough to find and there were two vehicles already there. Zach needed to be in St. George for a late afternoon rehearsal, so we needed to remain conscious of our time. We got started at 11:45am, just slightly later than we’d initially intended. The trail follows a decommissioned jeep road through scrubby juniper trees and cactus – lots of pretty clumps of cholla, my favorite. The last quarter of the trail became a slog through deep sand – my least favorite – but we trudged on.
When the sandy trail began to mingle with sandstone, we knew we had arrived. At first, it’s not much to look at and unaware hikers could be deterred from continuing. But if you go slightly farther, the landscape opens up and you can see Yant Flat spread below the initial drop.
There isn’t much of a trail or at least we deviated from it so entirely that we only found remnants of it now and again. Since we didn’t have much time, we wanted to scramble down as soon as possible. We made our way east and started to descend onto the flat.
To our surprise and delight, much of the flat was composed of brain rock (!) like White Pocket. But here, the brain rock was arrayed in more hues, mostly pinks and oranges. Like White Pocket, Tru enjoyed exploring, bounding down the canyon we found to reach the expanse of the flat. He’s never a fan of resting and was dismayed when we decided to take a break to eat snacks.
I’m not entirely sure if we saw most of the flat or if there are some other sections we missed, but we felt good as we departed and made our return to the car. I’m not sure Tru would have lasted much longer anyhow; he had insisted on running and sprinting around for much of the hike on the flat. We felt fortunate to have such lovely weather, especially as we drove back to Salt Lake in the rain the following day. Hopefully, we get a chance to explore a little more of Utah’s Dixie this spring.