Sunday, October 18, 2015

Red Cliffs National Recreation Area, 10/15/015

Located just a short distance from where we are staying (St. George/Hurricane KOA) is the entrance to the Red Cliffs National Recreation Area

The Red Cliffs Recreation Area is located within the 45,000-acre Red Cliffs National Conservation area in southwestern Utah (about 15 miles north of St. George). The conservation area has been set aside to "conserve, protect and enhance ecological, scenic, wildlife, recreational, cultural, historical, educational, and scientific resources. This, and nearby Snow Canyon State Park, are important habitats for the endangered Mohave Desert Tortoise. The red sandstone cliffs are gorgeous and Quail Creek provides shaded picnic and camping areas. 

Another bonus for us is that this location permits dogs on trails..and that makes Sadie so happy (and us too!)  There are signs along the road as you drive (one-way) through the campground area. A limited number of parking spaces (52) are available for those visiting for the day. When overcrowding occurs (sometimes in Spring or Fall), visitors are turned away. 

We were interested in seeing the dinosaur tracks and Virgin (Branch) Anasazi ruins (Red Cliffs Archeological Site). We began our hike near campsite #8 on the Red Reef East Trail and followed it to the Metate and then to the Anasazi Trail. 

Along the Red Reef Trail we came upon a sign to dinosaur tracks

Continuing to the Archaeological Site, the scenery was just gorgeous. Remnants of the Anasazi group are located on a hill affording a great view of surrounding areas. The Virgin Anasazi were prehistoric farming groups in southwest Utah beginning approximately 2000 years ago. 

Red Cliffs was occupied intermittently from 500 AD until 1200 AD. Only a portion of this site has been excavated (archeologists know that there is a pithouse here and several other structures). There were multi-roomed surface pueblos, storehouses, and cisterns to capture and store water. Below is a site map.

Below are the remnants of a multi-room pueblo, storehouse, and round cistern. 

Sadie (our doggy) enjoyed learning about these ancient people, too!

We returned to the campground area and continued our hike to the Silver Reef Trail where early Jurassic fossil dinosaur tracks were found in 1998. It is only a short distance to the site where interpretative signs provide information about the dinosaurs. The first is that of a Dilophosaurus (aka Double-Crested Lizard). a bipedal, meat-eating theropod, 750-1,000 pound dinosaur that was 20' long and 6-7' tall at the hips.

The second is an unidentified dinosaur that was a bipedal, meat-eating theropod, 12' long, 4-5' tall at the hips and weighed about 500 pounds. 

Continuing along the Silver Reef Trail, we enjoyed the gorgeous rock formations. This reminded us of a flying saucer! 

We drove to the Orson Adams House that is located near the entrance of the area where the town of Harrisburg was. This is the last remaining structure of the town. The one-story, two-room house was called a "double cell house" and was typical of early Utah architecture. The house, along with several others, was built by Willard McMullen, a highly skilled stone mason from Maine, between 1863-1866.

Harrisburg was formed in 1859 by Moses Harris. The Adams were "called" by the Church of the Latter-Day Saints (along with others) to settle in this valley. The diversion of Leeds Creek made water scarce here. The last church service was held in 1891 and the Adams moved to Leeds the following year. 

Admission to the Red Cliffs Recreation Area is $5/person. Our senior pass gets us in for free. We really enjoyed seeing the archaeological site here and would highly recommend a visit for some hiking. Access to the area is through two single-lane tunnels (under I-15) that accommodate vehicles less than 12' high. For additional information about Red Cliffs, please see their website.

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