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Southern Utah Ghost Towns

There are few landmarks more interesting than ghost towns. Exploring these long-abandoned settlements can be both captivating and educational. Visitors comes to these unique sites to learn about the lives of settlers and pioneers and the rich history of southern Utah. Every ghost town is full of history, mystery, and incredible things to discover.

Duncan’s Retreat
Named after one of its original settlers, Chapman Duncan, Duncan’s Retreat was settled in 1861 and is located about four miles east of Virgin. The settlers intended to use the area for farming, but in 1862 a flood washed away the best farmland. The original settlers sold their plots to a new group and Duncan’s Retreat was formed. Over the years the town grew and more structures, like a school, post office, and religious meetinghouse were built. Despite the initial growth of the town, by 1891 Duncan’s Retreat was completely abandoned. Today, only the foundations of a few structures and some trees remain.


In 1859, settler Nathan Tenney led five families to a piece of land just outside of Virgin. The families began building their lives in this area, planting crops and constructing homes. After a flood in 1862, the people of Grafton were forced to move a mile away to ground unaffected by the flood waters, which is where Grafton stands today. By 1945, Grafton was no longer able to support a growing population. Good farmland was scarce, and the town lacked basic modern utilities. The last residents left the town, officially making Grafton another ghost town of southern Utah. Today, Grafton’s remains include a church, a few houses, and a cemetery.


Right off I-15 lies the ghost town of Harrisburg. Harrisburg came to be when Harrisville was destroyed by the 1862 flood and the residents were forced to find another location to settle. Though the resilient settlers did their best to call Harrisburg home, constant grasshopper plagues, flooding, and Navajo Indian raids from 1869 to 1895 caused most of the residents to leave the area. By 1895, the last of the residents of Harrisburg left, leaving behind the ghost town. Many of their structures were built with stone, so stone ruins are left behind for guests to explore.


To find a better place for their livestock to graze, John and William Pulsipher traveled to what would later be known as Hebron. Over the years Hebron grew to boast a school house, church, hotel, stores, and many homes for the families living there. The land was divided, and residents farmed the land to sustain their families. After the arrival of LDS Apostle Erastus Snow, Hebron was organized into an LDS ward, which further increased the town’s population. The town grew immensely over the years, but its growth was cut short when a large earthquake destroyed most of the rock buildings. Shortly after, the residents agreed that moving to a new location would be better than rebuilding, so most of the residents left the area. Today, rubble from the destroyed buildings that was not repurposed is all that remains of Hebron.
Old Iron Town

About 20 miles outside of Cedar City lies the ghost town of Old Iron Town. The town began as a failed mining operation and was soon after settled by Mormon pioneers. The city grew to almost 100 residents and featured a variety of buildings, including a foundry and a schoolhouse. This growth was no match for the money scare of 1874, which limited transportation and presented a considerable financial burden on the town. The operation shut down in 1877 and the residents relocated. Today, a charcoal kiln and some old furnace structures are all that remain of the town.
This lovely area along popular pioneer trails was a resting and camping point for many travelers. The town was established by Rufus C. Allen in 1856 as an LDS Southern Indian Mission. Their move from Fort Harmony, Utah had pushed them to this area. The settlement was small and all that remains of the town is a small home and an old wagon.Silver Reef

In 1876, thanks to William T. Barbee and his extensive mining operation, the town of Silver Reef was formed. The town grew quickly, with over 2,000 residents, hotels, banks, stores, saloons, and more. By 1891, the last mine ceased operation and the town slowly began to decline in population. This ghost town is unlike other ghost towns, as it features a gift shop in the old bank and the Wells Fargo building has been turned into a museum.Sources

The Bighorn Sheep of Zion National Park

Zion National Park is home to many different unique and beautiful animals. Animals like the California Condor, Mule Deer, and the Western Rattle Snake call Zion National Park home all year long. Those who will be visiting Zion National Park may get the chance to see another animal that can’t be seen in many places.
The Bighorn Sheep of Zion National Park leave guests staring in awe as they precariously maneuver their hooved feet along steep and narrow cliffs. Guests who see these impressive sheep often recall the sighting as one of the most memorable things during their trip. Though not often talked about, Bighorn Sheep are just one more incredible thing to see while in the amazing Zion National Park.


About Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep are some of the most unique creatures in Zion National Park. They are closely related to Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, but the Bighorn Sheep in Zion National Park are built for the hot, dry weather of Zion. They have long legs, small bodies, short coats, and can survive on only the water from the vegetation they consume for days at a time.
Unlike most horned mammals, where only the males possess horns, both male and female Bighorn Sheep have horns. The female’s horns are shorter and less robust while the male’s horns are long, thick, and curve around their heads. These horns are used for ramming into other males to prove dominance.
For many years, the population of Bighorn Sheep in the southern Utah area was dwindling. In the late seventies, they were reintroduced to the area to return the native species where it belonged and, ever since, the Bighorn Sheep population has been booming.

Where Bighorn Sheep can be Found in Zion
While Bighorn Sheep may be seen on many mountains and cliffs, there are a few specific areas where guests are more likely to see them. In the areas of the Zion- Mt. Carmel Tunnel and the East Entrance of the park, it is common to see the Bighorn Sheep perched high on a rocky cliff, grazing on vegetation or, resting in the shade at the base of a cliff. Drivers should take care in these areas since Bighorn Sheep may cross the road unexpectedly.

When to Observe Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep are in the area year-round, but the best time to view them is once the cool weather moves in. With the peak of the mating season beginning in October, guests can hear them slamming their horns into each other to establish dominance, secure mating rights, and claim their territory. It is an incredible sight to see these creatures fighting precariously on a cliff’s edge.
For a dose of cuteness, travelers can plan their trip around the arrival of baby Bighorn lambs. New born lambs can be seen from mid-January to late April since there is a six-month gestation period after the peak mating season in October. No matter what time of year visitors come to Zion, they will be delighted by the sight of these majestic, beautiful, and interesting animals.

Visit the Bighorn Sheep of Zion
By observing the Bighorn Sheep of Zion from a safe distance, guests will be able to have a better appreciation of the unique wildlife of Zion National Park. Whether guests are visiting the area solely to observe the wildlife or they have come for outdoor activities but stumble across the wildlife in the process, Bighorn Sheep sightings will be a highlight of the trip.

St. George Farmers Market

St. George Downtown Farmers Market

The sudden push to buy produce and other products from local sources is more than just a fad. It’s one of the best ways to help the environment, contribute to the local community, and get the freshest, healthiest products. Being able to enjoy locally sourced items is easy thanks to the St. George Downtown Farmers Market.

About the Farmers Market
Every Saturday throughout the summer, beginning on Saturday, May 13th and concluding on Saturday, October 28th, the Downtown Farmers Market will take place. Each Saturday, it will open at 8:00 am and close at 12:00 pm.

The Downtown Farmers Market will be held at Ancestor Square. The exact location is 2 W St, George Blvd.#22- St. George. Over thirty local vendors will open tents and stands to sell their locally grown and made products. From vegetables and eggs to arts and crafts, there will be something for everyone at this location.

Products Available
Local vendors from the areas of Iron and Washington Counties will be selling organic produce, live plants, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, homemade food items, handmade crafts, photography, and much more. Everything available has been either made or grown locally, so shoppers can be sure they are getting the best products while keeping their money in the community.

Market Entertainment
To support local musicians, the center stage at the Farmers Market will feature live bands and musicians. These performers are from the local area and are sure to entertain. The lawn around the stage will be open to sit and enjoy the music. Shoppers can also listen to the music as they purchase their goods from the market.

Shop Smart, Support Local Businesses
The St. George Downtown Farmers Market at Ancestors Square is the perfect place to do the weekly shopping, purchase home décor, and find unique gifts for friends and family. Shopping local means finding things that the big box stores don’t have and feeling proud of the purchases made. Get in on the action by shopping at the St. George Downtown Farmers Market.

Photos by Gemma Billings

Plan Your Summer Trip

Utah has some of the most beautiful national parks in the country. Load up in your family car for a fun-filled three day vacation to Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef in the southern part of the state.

Bryce Canyon

The first stop is Zion. Take the park’s free shuttle to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery as it follows the Virgin River. You’ll see some incredible emerald pools and majestic sandstone cliffs that are an amazing site to behold. Stretch your legs and take a hike on one of the many trails you’ll find in the park. The Visitor’s Center is where you can catch the shuttle and also has some very helpful information on hiking and camping. Restrooms and first aid are available too.

The next stop is Bryce Canyon, with its surprising colorful rocks and easy walking trails. Stretch your legs and visit the Pink Ledges Trail in Red Canyon. Don’t miss the astonishing sunset at Paria View. You may be one of the lucky ones to catch a glimpse of a peregrine falcon.

Capitol Reef
You and your family will love this less crowded park. Make sure you make time to hike the Sunset Point Trail. There’s a bench at the end of the trail where you’ll be able to sit and marvel at the Capitol-like domes, Moenkopi towers, and natural bridges. For an unforgettable view, be sure to see Sulphur Creek joining the Fremont River.

Don’t forget your camera, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, and light jackets. You might even want to pack a picnic lunch with extra bottles of water. These parks can get very warm during the daytime, but will cool off during the evenings.

Family Activities In St. George

When it comes down to it, we really cannot think of a reason why people would not enjoy coming to St. George. It is the perfect family vacation spot year round! All it’s missing is the beach, but hey, we have Sand Hollow, close enough right? Here are some fun family activities to try when visiting St. George.

Photo Credit: Holly B. on flickr

Pioneer Park

Also known as “Dixie Rock”, this is a fun family friendly hiking area that sits atop a hill overlooking St. George. Enjoy short hikes, historic “buildings”, picnic areas, slot canyons and so much more! Also located right next to Pioneer Park is The Desert Garden, which can be a fun and educational stroll.


Depending on the time of year you are visiting, there will be different shows and events going on at Tuacahn no doubt! Some spectacular shows that have hit this amphitheater stage are The Little Mermaid, Tarzan and more! They also hold holiday shows like Halloweens Thriller!

Sand Hollow

This Reservoir is the go to spot for families during the blazing hot summers. There are all kinds of fun things to do there, cliff jumping, tubing, Razors and so much more!

Zion National Park

We really truly believe that St. George is one of the best places to visit simply because Zion Natoional Park is right in our backyard! A mere 40 minute drive away. How lucky can you get?!

Tips on Buying and Maintaining a Mountain Bike

I have been riding a bike for a long time and I have come to master the art of riding bikes. Therefore, I tend to be asked a lot of question based on bikes and some people come to me for tips when they want to buy a bicycle. I believe experience is the best teacher thus I will try to give you tips on how to handle that experience in order not to have a hard time like I did. It may not be much but it will help you.

By this point, I am assuming that you know the kind of bike that you would like. Basically, many people go for mountain bikes but there are still other types of bikes that people may want to use out there. The first thing you require to know on mountain bikes is that there are four different kinds of the modern mountain bikes. They are: the cross-country bike, the downhill bike, the mountain or trail bike, and the diamondback bike, otherwise known as the dirt/ jump bike. About 90 percent of people go for the cross-country and mountain bikes.

The all trail/mountain bike is considered the general mountain bike for people to use. This is in consideration of “real” mountain bikes as most people are now using hybrids instead of mountain bikes.

A “real” mountain bike is one that is specially and specifically made for riding in the mountains. The other kind is the “supermarket” mountain bikes. These bikes are usually sold in supermarket and are mountain bikes by name and features but not by action as they cannot handle the off-road terrain. I hope these will help you differentiate the two kinds as you come across them in the text. There other two categories are specialty bikes and should only be used by people who have the great experience in bike riding. They are specially made for other activities that suit the bike.

The first thing I would ask you is the intention of riding a mountain bike. Anyone who wants to ride a mountain bike has to have the passion of doing it as it is not an easy thing. Mountain/trail bikes are specially made to be ridden on mountain trails. This helps to know if you really want to ride in mountains so that if not, we could schedule a ‘supermarket’ bike as it is not meant for off-road situations. It is available and beneficial for use within the town and nearby areas but many people would disregard it.

Photo Credit: kippsters on flickr

It may not be distinguish a branded mountain bike from a ‘supermarket’ bike. One cannot just go in a supermarket and buy a bike that looks like a mountain bike. One way to distinguish them is the place to buy. Supermarket bikes are bought in the supermarket. If you walk into a convenient store and find a bike but the store itself is not specifically tailored for selling bikes. Most are just there for the money and would offer fake advice that it is a mountain bike but the ‘true’ bike shops will distinguish it for you. Always look for a bike shop only and buy your real mountain bike from there. Another clue to help you differentiate is the prices. Supermarket bikes are relatively lower than the branded bikes. The branded bikes are a bit expensive as you will come to appreciate this fact as we move along.

The next question I get mostly is whether to buy an already built bike or just assemble it right from scratch. The answer to this question is always the budget. Most people think that assembling a bike is much cheaper than buying an already built one. For them, this is wrong. The reason is that manufacturers buy these parts in bulk. By doing so, they are allowed discounts on the parts making it cheaper for them to assemble one and sell it at a cheaper price. If you go buying up one part at a time, you will get fewer discounts or none at all. This brings the total cost as you also have to include the labor and time spent on it. The disadvantage of buying an already built bike is that choosing the one you like will seem a problem. Also, they may be made of cheaper parts. Though the benefit of doing so is that it lowers the cost, it also has a disadvantage in that it may make the bike ineffective. Manufacturers may mix up Deore and Alivio for the consumer’s sake but also present the challenge in the event the Alivio gets damaged.

In any event, you can always upgrade the bike later, though selling the used parts may seem a hard thing to do as you may not get a good price for them. In the event of making the decision on buying or assembling, always consider your budget. If you have a high budget, best advice is to assemble one. Assembling is always the best since you get to customize it anyway you want and use the best parts. The other thing is your dedication to riding. If you really want to embrace this sport, then you will need some “deep pockets” as upgrading is a must. Therefore, think twice before buying cheap parts that you will obviously change in short periods and spend a lot of money, or use more money to buy good parts that will last you longer. There is also an installment option in some shops where they can do the assembly for you at a cost.

Another tip is that, always buy authentic parts. There are many fake parts out there and are easily found in the stores. They are mostly provided by manufactures that are not locally established as they know you would not presents complaints close to them. Do not be fooled by the cheap prices of the bike frames as they tend to get damaged fast.
When choosing bike parts, always consider the highly ranked product models. They are usually arranged in an ascending order. Generally, there are two companies that offer a group set: Shimamo and SRAM. The higher you go in the order, the better the material as they tend to be light and more durable. The lower end products are usually made of steel which rusts as the upper end products use the exotic brands that does not rust. This is also an excuse for them not to wash and maintain their bikes regularly. The Shimamo set has the following order: Acera, Alivio, Deore, Deore LX, Deore SLX, Deore XT and XTR. Any serious bike rider will obviously start with Deore and work his/her way up.

Most newbies in this sport will not understand the essence of this as they will not start upgrading until sometime has passed but it is highly advised for every rider to know about it. Upgrades are a must in any rider’s career but not all, even if they have money, will spend it wisely in buying the parts. Therefore, buy the right parts to avoid recurrent expenditure on upgrades.

Also, as you go along shopping for parts, look for quality no matter the manufacturer. The bike business is expanding at a fast rate and many more manufacturers are coming on board. Those who established themselves earlier become bigger. As they become bigger, there is a tendency that they will compromise on the quality. Not many people know this but they do. Therefore, also look at the parts from the upcoming manufacturers, especially Taiwan Products since most mountain bike products, even those sold by big US companies, are from Taiwan.

The final note is on research. You have to conduct extensive research on the parts you intend to use especially if you operate on a limited budget. Even if you have a high budget, there is no need to spend it unwisely. There are plenty of places that you may learn, the most obvious and easiest being the internet. There is no excuse not to do so since internet is readily available even in coffee shops or in schools. This has also been made easier through the smartphone technology as you could even use your phone to do so. Look up the manufacturer’s website on their technical details to determine which the best bike is. If not so, you could search for other sites and forums on information about bikes. Otherwise, you could spend a little money on buying bike magazines and read more on the different bikes and the technological advancements. Another option is visiting a local bike store. No each bike store carries all bike products thus you will be able to engage them on the specifics of each kind of bike. As you do this, determine if the sales people are actually telling you the truth or are just carrying out their job as sales people. Also, not all of them know everything about bikes thus they may be lying to you. They can be technically not updated or maybe they just do not know anything about it but are eager to make a sale.

One more piece of advice, tend to create a rapport with one bike store owner and staff. This is because you first buy will not be the last as constant upgrading will follow. Thus, with that store, you can be able to strike deals with them or even get discounts. This does not mean you should not go anywhere else. You may find another better deal some other store.

Budget Friendly Cheap Family Vacation Tips

Regarding family vacations, most people think that it is a matter of spending some huge cash. However, this is never true and do you know that you can take a cheap family vacation and have some great time with your family? Well, it is very possible. Once you understand how to maneuver the planning and tricks to use, you can easily take your family to their dream destination on a budget. By applying the right tips you can be able to visit some of the most exquisite destinations in the world without having to break your bank account. There are many cheap family vacations packages and deals online and this makes it so exciting and affordable to take a family vacation.

Toes in the sand
Photo Credit: mamadunk on flickr

• A trip to the mind-blowing Goa Island in India can serve well those families that are head-over-heels into beach vacations.
• A visit to the amazing Caribbean and Florida Islands will also do you justice if you would love to soak yourself in the sun as you lazily behold the beautiful seaside scenery.
Taking a trip to these places is never expensive as you may think. All that will determine how much you will spend is the season of the visit and the choice of accommodation. You can therefore enjoy a trip to these places on a budget, simply go for your vacation during off-season and book moderately-priced lodges.

• South Africa is another great vacation destination for those who love nature. It is heavily endowed with some amazing wildlife and heart-rending natural sceneries.
• You can also look out for lowly priced pre-planned wildlife itineraries in a country such as Kenya where an entire package for the whole family is covered for a whooping 8 days at barely £510 minus ticket prices. You will have a long-lasting memory of the Kenyan wildlife and game parks. Furthermore, you get a hands-on experience on some traditional cultures such as interacting with the Maasai people in Kenya who have held and lived their culture for as long as history has been there.

• If you find work of art and culture fascinating then Italy will do you good. Soak yourself up in some rich history and culture in this celebrated country that has something to offer for everyone. It is a cheap family vacation destination with a rich history. You can visit Rome during winter or go visit with the kids Rome’s Christmas market of Fiera di Natali situated in Piazza Navona. While here you can buy toys for the kids or indulge in tasty sweets. You should also remember to take a ride on the merry go round present there.

Have a Peace of Mind While Planning Your Family Vacation

Family vacations are all about fun, bonding and shared adventure. However bringing in your entire extended family on board totally changes the story; an exciting moment becomes the most unbearable experience ever. But do you know that you can have a peace of mind planning your family vacation by simply following some guidelines? Well, consider the following tips and you can have the most amazing vacation of your life;

Perfect family vaction
Photo Credit: Lagniappe Destinations on flickr

1. Organization is key

When it comes to extended family vacations nothing can stand in the way of an organized plan, I mean real organization. Never take anything to chance, instead of complaining about how the huge gang will be going for the vacation, focus on your organization. Get the list of every member of your extended family and prepare a spreadsheet made up of two sections; one for adults and the other for the children. This will be highly beneficial in taking advantage of discount offers on various hotels, pricing activities and plane reservations. There are normally free pricing in some instances for young children, ex-military personnel and even for the senior citizens.

Also remember to make a checklist of some major highlights on the spreadsheet. You can make a column for things such as “horseback riding bookings”, “plane tickets booking”, “hotel room bookings” and many others. Once each and every member of the extended family ascertains that they have made their booking, you can indicate that on the checklist beside their name. This will help when days draw near since at a glance you can identify those who are struggling and require a reminder.

2. Select a representative contact person from every family

You need to choose your best contact person for every family. Choose members who are reliable and easily respond to emails otherwise you may have some hard time putting things in order. Remember it does not matter much you may love or prefer a member of family over others; the key rule is reliability and efficiency. Choose someone who is reliable and efficient.

3. Delegate tasks

It is always more rewarding and exciting to divide tasks. Assign different persons a unique task to handle and make this formal by writing an email to all of them. The email should clearly describe the individual’s responsibilities. All the other members of the gang should also be “cced” on all the mails so that they can clearly understand everyone else’s responsibility. Once tasks are assigned, each individual is accountable for their action and if anyone lags behind they should be answerable to the rest of the members. This will avoid blame being shifted on you for everything and creates a sense of responsibility and personal ownership of the trip.

4. Always ensure upfront payments are made

Most family disagreements emerge from the subject of money. Avoid launching the family vacation on grounds of financial tension and remember it is not your responsibility to pay for all your family members-unless you made a commitment to do so earlier on. Therefore make things clear and straight by informing your family gang that you are not a bank and that each family member must have some certain amount of cash or credit ready in advance.

If it is wiser to make the down payment as an individual then set a deadline for each of the members and make sure they clear their amounts at least 3 days before the day of booking is due. This will give you enough time to figure out what to do in case a relative is unable to raise their part of the deal.

5. Prepare a daily itinerary for the whole trip period

You should be well organized when it comes to all activities to be carried out during the entire trip. Prepare a list of all activities and group them into Morning, Day and Night activity. Also remember to include the venue for each activity. Ensure that the list is prepared in advance and circulated to all the members who will be on board. This will avoid some repetitive questions such as “where will we be going or what will we be doing tomorrow/tonight/today”, blah blah blah. Indicate clear and precise descriptions of the venues and activities that will take place.

Make sure that before the departure date all members have been emailed the itinerary and you should also print a copy for each one so that they can pin it on their hotel rooms. By doing this each member feels as a part of the group and will not bother asking rhetoric questions during the trip.

6. Schedule some “nothing” time

It is always quite exhausting to travel as a huge group and therefore when you create some time for doing nothing as a part of the schedule members can get to relax and have some private sessions. A preferable “nothing” time may be one afternoon or even an entire day so that they can relax and download pictures, relax their exhausted bones, enjoy some cup of coffee, take a lazy stroll, and have time to read a book, or even play around with the children.

7. Never try to please everyone

Always remember that it is impossible to please everyone no matter how hard you try. There are some that simply love the attention they receive when they complain therefore sit back and relax knowing that you have done your part in planning for the vacation.

If you follow through these steps you can have everyone wishing for a return visit at the end of the trip.