Living in Saint George just fell in my lap, but for some people, it is a planned conscious choice. Many people, like most of my fellow-guides at Paragon Adventures, moved here because it is surrounded by a wide variety of easily-accessible outdoor sports, like rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking and canyoneering, to name just a few. For people like us, it is amazing how close some of these trails, canyons and cliffs are to town.
Just west of a major part of St. George, called Green Valley, a massive plateau of “Shinarump” conglomerate sandstone rises out of the desert. Littered with boulders, this plateau itself is a bouldering paradise, but water has its ways of making landscapes even more interesting. A wash that rarely has water flowing through it has slowly carved a canyon right through the middle of this plateau, called the Green Valley Gap. This canyon exposes this geographic layer of Shinarump in all its glory. This 50-70 foot thick geologic layer is 210-230 million year old and is made of compressed and mineralized sand, pebbles and wood. This rock develops a black outer layer, called patina. Lichen and moss also cover much of this rock. The frequent and persistent visitor to this canyon can spot foxes, owls, coyotes, rattle snakes, Gila monsters, chuckawallas, and just about any other local species. One can also find a rare breed of human known as rock climbers, along with mountain bikers, hikers, ATV riders, jeeps playing in the mud and even target shooters. On the right day you can even find Zip liners: guests of Paragon Adventures. All of this lies just 5-10 minutes from the historic downtown part of Saint George.
For the casual climber, this canyon is a paradise. Unlike many climbing areas, the rough but short dirt road leading here lands your vehicle right at the top of the canyon. Some parking spots are just 100 feet from the top anchors. There are many easy ways to scramble down the cliff to the base of the crags to lead climb, but seeing as how you are already on top, why not just top rope? If you are one of those who climbs strictly on lead, I respect that. The popular routes here go up to the 5.12 difficulty range. Lead them, be safe, have fun. But there is such a large amount of 5.7-5.10 routes here for the casual climber to enjoy that I encourage these people to set their rope through the top anchors and just play around. Not many crags have parking on top of the cliff. I recommend taking full advantage of this unique feature of the Green Valley Gap. As a father and a busy working man, I fully appreciate the ability to pull-up, walk 100-300 feet, clip into the top anchors, rappel down and start climbing. Saint George, Utah is a unique type of city with a plethora of bolted routes that are easy to access. Help keep these places open to public use by respecting the land, not littering, respecting other visitors here, and obeying local laws. For guided climbing tours of these and many other areas, or climbing training courses, please check out our website.
Author: David Ward, Paragon Guide