Andrea Gómez
Desert Rose Labyrinth.

Galleries abound in this southern Utah desert oasis

Melissa Fields  – February 22, 2010

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

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.

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.

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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