Again this week, with gas prices as high as they have been, we thought we’d keep our recommendation for a Sunday Drive a little closer to home. For that reason, we’re suggesting a short drive on Washington Parkway - what there currently is of the Northern Corridor.
Start at Exit 13 on I-15 and head northwest on Washington Parkway and you’ll be treated to some amazing views of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. Better yet, park at the trailhead just north of Exit 13 and explore the reserve on foot.
There are dozens of trails, perfect for a trail run, or a mountain bike ride. Prospector, Church Rocks, and the Grapevine Trails all connect to the Grapevine Trailhead. A little further up Washington Parkway and out a couple of dirt roads, you’ll find trailheads for Elephant Arch, Bone Wash and the Dino Cliffs Trails.
There are arches, dinosaur tracks and if you’re lucky, you might spot a desert tortoise on the trails in the area.
The rest of the planned Northern Corridor has been a subject of controversy for several years. A connection between I15 and SR18 would provide residents of Ivins, Santa Clara, and the western side of St. George far easier access and alleviate traffic on St. George Boulevard. However, the fact that this route would have to cross the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, federally protected lands set aside to preserve habitat for the endangered Mojave desert tortoise, raises numerous environmental concerns.
While the route was approved by the federal government in early 2021, lawsuits have been filed by numerous environmental groups to stop the project.
Of course, the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a spectacularly beautiful landscape we’d all like to see preserved for future generations to enjoy. And at the same time, the need for a connection between the western side of our metropolitan area and the Interstate can’t be denied.
In the end we hope both objectives can be reached and we look forward to taking a ride on the completed Northern Corridor when it’s finished, no matter which route it eventually takes. In the meantime, we could all benefit from exploring the current Washington Parkway and seeing for ourselves the lands the Northern Corridor will impact.
To learn more on the subject follow the links below. Red Cliffs Desert Reserve website: http://www.redcliffsdesertreserve.com/
St George News Article on the Northern Corridor approval:
Washington County Purchases land for the project:
Environmental Groups File Suit:
Read all of KUER’s stories on the northern corridor: