Zion National Park Utah
Zion National Park Utah
Hikers and adventurers revere Zion. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 The Narrows is a nine-mile river wading hike in rubber boots between canyon walls in Zion National Park.

 

Mark Twain described golf as “a good walk spoiled,” but the 13 Red Rock Trail golf courses in Southern Utah’s Greater Zion Region, including as The Ledges Golf Club; Entrada at Snow Canyon; Sand Hollow Golf Resort (with various on-site lodging options); and Copper Rock Golf Course, are played over dramatic, natural desert terrain with sweeping, unspoiled views. 

The surroundings guarantee a worthwhile trip over 18 holes. Whether or not your putts drop, your mood will remain up – as is your entire body at these high desert elevations. Shake off the same-old-same-old and enjoy a golf destination that is difficult to describe and yet more affordable and accessible than some of the game’s standard stops. While major championships have never been held there, The Red Rock Trail of golf courses is no pretender to any list of great golf getaways.

 

Snow Canyon Park Utah
Morning sun makes Snow Canyon feel sacred. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

A Good Walk Not Spoiled…But, In Fact, Avoided 

Golfers at these courses are more likely, and in some cases mandated, to navigate from tee to green – and more importantly green to tee – by riding on power carts. Yes, golf is a sport and an athletic endeavor, or, at minimum, an opportunity to get your daily steps in. But there’s no need to be macho and object to a power cart mandate. The courses, as designed, are spread out over cliffs and outcroppings to take advantage of the most scenic spots from which to hit shots over crevices and into canyons. In order to provide these exciting holes, there are sometimes long, tumbling connections from the previous hole to the next tee.    

A cart will spare your legs and, I suspect, keep the pace of play moving so these courses can accommodate the many players who want to experience, savor and of course photograph the treasures they present.  It’s a lot easier to carry the water you’ll need, too, in the hot, dry summer sunshine.

The Cart Path Less Traveled is a Road Race 

Golf cart cruising seems counter-intuitive given the longstanding, outdoorsy culture of the Greater Zion Area – the same culture that will find it, thanks to the Utah Sports Commission, serving as the venue for the Ironman Triathlon World Championships.

For decades the inspiring event has been staged on Hawaii’s Big Island, but pandemic complications have moved the swimmers, bikers and runners to George, Utah to compete in May, 2022. Ironmen and women used to pedaling, paddling and running over the Big Island terrain and waves may be surprised to also find some familiar flows in genuine lava fields and tourists stand-up paddle boarding …but in a lake-like reservoir.  

See the Sea 

The most admired courses in the golf world are typically waterfront links like Pebble Beach, Ballybunion, Bay Harbor, Whistling Straits, and, back on the Big Island, Hualalai at Four Seasons. It struck me, looking down across a fairway, the left side of which dropped off steeply, that looking at the visible vastness of the desert floor was similar to staring at the sea. The desert dust was, at one time, sea bed. But despite the lack of water, there is no retrieving your ball from the abyss.

 

Desert Southern Utah golf
Desert floor suppliants the sea at Southern Utah golf course. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

Abyss is an unfair word to label the varied textures, beauty and natural colors you’ll find among Snow Canyon State Park’s visual treats including petrified dunes, Arch Canyon, and 38 miles of gentle, scenic, fauna-filled walking trails.

 

Snow Canyon Park Utah
Snow Canyon Park’s color and texture. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

Wading through Wall Street

If you want to combine conditions and hike in water, believe it or not that pairing can be procured. The Narrows, in Zion National Park, is a popular river wading hike up to nine miles long in rubber boots between canyon walls including the popular, appropriately-named “Wall Street.”

Zion National Park has a complimentary shuttle system to the trails and settings of your choosing within the 146,000 acres of canyons, sandstone walls, forests and picturesque peaks.

 

Narrows Zion National Park Utah
The first few steps of the nine-mile Narrows. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

Even though the snow runoff water of The Narrows is chilly, you’ll still want to cool your heels and rest your head (and feet) at The Advenier, the new, stylish Autograph Collection boutique hotel in the center of St. George. The hotel serves up Wood.Ash.Rye – its indoor and outdoor restaurant – and a rooftop jacuzzi for sunshine and stargazing. “From the top floor you can see beautiful red rock for as far as your eyes allow,” said Kristin Yantis, of Malen Yantis Public Relations, who serves as an ambassador of the region.

 

St. George Utah
St. George, Utah has a festive, frontier feel. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

St. George hotel lobby
The hip hotel lobby hits the right design notes. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

Getting to the Greater Zion Region

The 2,400 square-miles of the Greater Zion Region, just over a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, is anchored by the town of St. George and accessible by its regional airport between the Mojave Desert, Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. Weatherwise it’s a year-round destination, which can be explored virtually at GreaterZion.com

 

Zion National Park
Cliffside courage at Zion Region golf courses. (Photo by Harrison Shiels)

 

Read more on Michael Patrick Shiels’ travel blog, The Travel Tattler. Contact Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels at [email protected]

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