It was July of 1993. It had to have been at least 117 degrees outside as my husband passed through Mesquite, Nevada on our final trek to St. George, Utah. As we entered into “The Gorge” on that last stretch into Southern Utah, we rolled the windows down and turned off the air conditioner to prevent the moving van from overheating. I turned my face towards the overhead sun and deeply inhaled the hot desert air. “Home...,” I thought to myself, “I am home.”
Growing up along the Colorado River in the small town of Parker, Arizona, the desert was my sanctuary. Other cities I have lived in, although charming in their own right, have never resonated with my heart in the way that Parker always did...until July 11, 1993. As we passed onto the remote section of the Arizona Strip and entered into the Virgin River Gorge, 29.43 miles of sweltering pavement never felt so right. Every one of my five senses were alive as I hung my head out the window that day and rejoiced in the new path we had chosen for our family.
Since that moment, now twenty years ago, I have traveled down countless dirt roads and explored this glorious ‘Zion’ which I am privileged to call home. Many of our extended family members have since followed. Although my husband and I have joked about being ‘modern day pioneers’ it is hard to truly imagine what the actual settlers of this area thought when they stumbled upon places like the Valley of Fire, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, The Grand Staircase, and Zion (only to name a few). I penned the following sentiments a few years back...
“They headed west for opportunity, new frontiers, silver and gold. Many braved encounters with the elements, terrain, and a rendezvous with survival. These courageous settlers laid down roots in the midst of a place that took the lives of many through its harsh challenges. Yet with love and care, those who came before created communities within some of the country’s grandest of landscapes.
More picturesque than portrayed by painters and photographers, is the region east of Las Vegas beginning with the rise of the Valley of Fire, extending through the powerful Virgin River Gorge, leading northward to the diverse range of colors and textures within Utah’s Snow Canyon, and embracing the silent moment of wonder within Zion Canyon. It is here, along this highway of countless overlooks, that towns remain and cities have emerged.”
These people represent heritage and evolution mixed with vision. They live here because they are connected to the core of lifestyle that exists; one that appreciates beauty and serenity tossed with adventure and excitement. This Travel Issue of Élan is but a magnificent smattering of pages filled with just a few of the sites existing within our own ‘backyard’. From breathtaking photography and historical gathering places, to a selection of hikes recommended by those who reside here, Élan has captured the very essence of what it is to call Southern Utah ‘home’.
To live here is a gift. To visit here is a must. Regardless of the road you roam, there is an adventure awaiting. Heed the call. Choose your path.
Darci Hansen, Founder
Editor in Chief