Southern Utah is known for its amazing exposed rocks, canyons and cliffs. The geologic layers here are all lifted or bent, leaving many cliff bands and high points looking down on lower, flatter areas. This type of landscape lends itself to a wide variety of outdoor sports and hobbies, including the less-known hobby of paragliding. Many people confuse paragliding with hang-gliding or parasailing, but these are completely different activities. Paragliding is launching from an elevated spot, like a cliff edge, and hanging from a parachute with no engine to push you. You then slowly and majestically (or while screaming loudly) descend to the low ground below. This descent can take several minutes and, with the right updrafts, an experienced rider can make the descent last much longer by using the winds to re-ascend. These daring and skilled people can often be seen on the edges of town, drifting about like balloons riding the wind. This is a complex sport that requires lots of expertise, but if you know your sport, then you likely can find the online sources that can point you to some of the Saint George area’s more popular launching sites. Hopefully our links here can help point you in the right direction.
Hints: Some of the nearby launch sites are actually just across the border of Arizona, so they may not come up when searching for launch sites in Utah, but may come up if you search Northern Arizona or “The Arizona Strip.”
Less than 3 hours to the north of Saint George is Richfield, Utah, well-known in the paragliding community for its many great launch sites which even sometimes hosts national competitions.
Guide/Instructor Stacy Whitmore: http://www.cuasa.com/ColorCountryParagliding.htm
Popular Utah Launch Sites: http://www.cuasa.com/UtahLaunches.htm
Cove Club Pilots and quote from one of our guides and personal friend, Fio:
Quote from an experienced paragliding pilot, Dave Dixon:
“Most pilots know Utah as an excellent place to fly. Everyone is familiar with The Point of the Mountain (SLC) and the great sites along the Wasatch Front. Tucked away in the South Central part of the state is an area that may well be its Crowning Gem. Near Richfield there are numerous sites that have huge untapped potential. There are several high altitude launches with easy access. You could do a huge sled run in the morning, fly XC in the day, and then do an incredible glass off in the evening. I think it contains some of the most consistent flying in Utah. Cove almost always seems to work. With Edna, Monroe, Parker and others close by you have several options. The XC possibilities are what intrigue me the most. There are several obvious routes in all directions. While some of the really long distance ones would take big commitment, most follow ranges and valleys with easy retrieves. It’s the perfect setup for Open Distance, Triangle or Race to Goal flying. I am very excited to see The Nationals come to Richfield. I know we’ll finally see just how prime this area is. Richfield is a friendly town with all the conveniences and facilities. The organizers are experienced and have some great plans. We’ll most likely see site records broken every day. I encourage all to come, even non competitors. We’ll have some phenomenal flying! With good participation we’ll see Richfield become the destination it really is.” -Dave Dixon, SLC, Utah.