Southern Utah has its issues. Here at The Indy, we have no problem shining a light on them. That is important work, and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s part of making the Southern Utah culture and community better. Still, most of us have a reason why we live in Southern Utah. For some it’s something as simple and identifiable as work, but for most of the people I meet it’s something far more difficult to pin down.
Despite the trying stretch of triple-digit temperatures we face each summer, the weather in Southern Utah is fantastic, especially if you came here from a colder climate. I’ve lived here for six years, and my bones are still thawing from the decade I spent in Logan, Utah.
It would be easy to say, “’cause it’s pretty,” but it is something more than that. The landscape of Southern Utah isn’t just pretty, it’s mesmerizing. It’s the the person you meet at a party who you’re pretty sure is trouble but can’t help but want to talk to anyway. The landscape of Southern Utah is warm and colorful and complex. Its hills and canyons fold around each other, creating a virtually endless array of areas to explore. That’s what draws outdoor adventurers like Todd Goss (owner of Paragon Adventure and climbing guide book author) here. Over two decades ago, Goss was driving past St. George Boulevard when he saw a sign for climbing gear on the side of Interstate 15. He pulled off on St. George Boulevard and never left. Seriously! He never made it to his destination. The area grabbed him and still hasn’t let go.
People who love to play in the outdoors aren’t the only ones affected by Southern Utah’s landscape. This area both draws artists and creates new ones. While I love more diverse and nontraditional art, there is a reason so many art galleries down here are full of landscape paintings.
There is something about Southern Utah that finds the creative side of those who call it home. As you talk to people in the local arts communities, you’ll find many of them didn’t pick up their craft until this area inspired them. From painters and poets to photographers, sculptors, singers, and actors, Southern Utah is often the muse that starts their love affair with the arts.
While a majority of Southern Utahans find their spirituality tied to the area through its Mormon history and heritage, there is something inherently spiritual about this place. While the big white one in the center of town gets a lot of the attention, there are temples waiting to be discovered around every corner. For me, spirituality is more of a solitary endeavor than a communal one. Southern Utah provides thousands of unique locations that anyone can call theirs and their alone for an afternoon or evening.
While these things aren’t always enough to keep people here — we’ve all had to watch close friends move away because they just couldn’t feel at home here — they are the kind of things that will stay with those friends wherever they go. They’re the kind of things that cause a little bit of sigh for those who leave regardless of how excited they are for the opportunities that lie ahead of them.
For those of us the area has fully gotten its hooks into, we often feel a sense of ownership for the area, though I think it’s important we make sure that feeling leans more toward stewardship than entitlement. However you describe it, there is something about Southern Utah, and that something keeps calling to us again and again.