Galleries abound in this southern Utah desert oasis
Have an Artful Encounter in Kayenta, Utah
Andrea Gómez
Desert Rose Labyrinth.

Why go in spring: This artsy desert community in Utah’s red rock country is in bloom.

Where it is: Within the town of Ivins, 7 miles northwest of St. George. Average March temp: 67°

Dress code: Sandals, shorts, and a hat to ward off the sun. Pack a fleece jacket for chilly evenings.

First stop:  Coyote Gulch Art Village, a cluster of galleries, shops, and a cafe with a backdrop of red rock mountains and desert gardens.

Eco bonus: The area’s green housing development was designed to blend into the landscape. Even the night sky is protected by lighting ordinances.

Don’t expect to see: Lawns. Kayenta is about drought-tolerant native plants. Learn about them at the Xetava Desert Arboretum (free; 811 N. Kayenta Pkwy.; 435/673-6628), where desert marigold should be in bloom.

History lesson: Mormon pioneers established a cotton-growing colony in the St. George area, which is why it’s often called Dixie.

Hollywood-style history: The Electric Horseman, starring Robert Redford, was filmed nearby.

How to get there and things to do

Andrea Gómez
Art hop to galleries around the town.

1. Gallery hop around the art village: Start at Juniper Sky Fine Art Gallery (851 Coyote Gulch Ct.; 435/674-2306) to shop for paintings, glass, and sculpture by local artists. Other galleries are just steps away: Earth & Light Gallery (435/673-2805) for scenic photography, Datura Gallery (435/674-9595) for jewelry, and Gallery 873 (435/673-6628) for metal art.

Andrea Gómez
Take a private lesson at Zia Pottery Studio.

2. Get your hands in the clay: At Zia Pottery Studio, take a 2-hour private lesson and learn how to throw a pot. Or shop for original ceramic pieces made by the 17 potters who create their work here. $75 for 2 hours; 833 Coyote Gulch Ct.; 435/688-8300.

Andrea Gómez
A plate of brie-stuffed prawns from Xetava Garden Café.

3. Alfresco lunch with the locals: At Xetava Gardens Café, try the grilled asparagus with mushroom caviar or the brie-stuffed prawns. On Saturday nights, there’s music on the patio. $$; breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Thu–Sat; 815 Coyote Gulch Ct.

4. A meditative walk: A stroll through the Desert Rose Labyrinth, created by Kayenta locals, is a peaceful way to end the day and catch the sunset. Don’t miss the adjoining sculpture garden dotted with works by the area’s masters. Free; 875 Coyote Gulch Ct.

And while you’re in the area …

Go for a hike:  Snow Canyon State Park, between St. George and Kayenta, is a day-hiker’s paradise. Check out the steep but short Cinder Cone Trail (1.5 miles round-trip) or the moderate Whiterocks Trail (3.75 miles round-trip), with stunning views at the edge of the red rock can-yon. $5 per vehicle; 1002 Snow Canyon Dr., Ivins; 435/628-2255.

Hit a restaurant: For a quick lunch or afternoon pick-me-up, try Twentyfive Main Cafe and Cake Parlor for panini, pizza, pasta, salads, and irresistible cupcakes in flavors like chocolate espresso, peanut butter cup, and vanilla strawberry. $; closed Sun; 25 N. Main St., St. George; 435/628-7110.

Discover an urban oasis: The Santa Clara River ripples through Tonaquint Park, a desert garden in St. George. Learn how to attract wildlife to your yard in a workshop at the nature center (Mar 13; free; registration required; 435/673-3617), or just stroll through the park, keeping an eye out for red-tailed hawks, lizards, and beavers. 1851 S. Dixie Dr.

Where to stay:  Red Mountain Resort & Spa in Ivins has a packed schedule of fitness classes and guided hikes, plus indoor and outdoor pools and a full-service spa. From $199.

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