Welcome to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve


Visitor Center

For many, the free visitor center of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, located at 10 North, 100 East in St. George, Utah, is a treasured place to learn about local wildlife, plants, ecosystems, and the purpose of the Washington County Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).   The visitor center has live animals and impressive exhibits to educate the public.  Staff members will often give presentations to small groups in the visitor center by appointment. The regular hours for the visitor center are from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is considered a very successful HCP.  It is administered by Washington County in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).  This collaborative partnership has the primary goal of recovering the threatened desert tortoise while carefully managing recreational activities and utility projects in an extraordinarily unique environment that will benefit future generations.

Experience Diverse Ecosystems

When you step over one of the Reserve’s distinctive “step-over” gates, you are entering a special place, a place that is a privilege to visit. Not just another mountain bike trail, not just another horseback ride. You are entering a 62,000-acre scenic wildlife reserve set aside to protect the Mojave Desert tortoise and other rare plants and animals.

At the merging of three great ecosystems, the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau, the Reserve is biologically rich with a unique array of animals and plants. The Reserve contains the most northern populations of the desert tortoise, Gila monster, sidewinder rattlesnake, and chuckwalla – reptiles typically associated with hotter and more southerly deserts, like the Mojave. A significant portion of the shrubs in this area, such as blackbrush, are more commonly found in the cooler Great Basin Desert. The conditions in the region are such that several endemic species, those which occur no where else in the world, do occur here.

Protect A Functional Expanse

The Reserve was established in 1996 to protect a large, diverse, and functional expanse of habitat capable of sustaining wildlife populations threatened by rapid development and habitat loss across Washington County in southwestern Utah. Located immediately adjacent to several growing communities, the Reserve also protects the cities’ scenic red rock backdrop and an increasingly popular area for recreation.

The Reserve spans across the north central portion of Washington County in southwest Utah. It is approximately 20 miles wide and 6 miles deep. The Reserve is north of Ivins, Santa Clara, St. George and Washington City, south of Leeds, and west of Hurricane and LaVerkin. The Reserve is trisected by Highway 18 in the west and I-15 in the east. There are many access points and trails for recreational opportunities within the Reserve.

                                                                                                                      Above: Map of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Summer “Shell-ebration” Program Information!!


All the original and extra added summer program dates are booked.  Due to cancellations and no shows we are welcoming anyone who would like to come to please come in to see the animals, listen to the story, and watch a video or two.  If at all possible we will get your child/children a spot at the craft table!  If you plan to come please let Lacey know so you can be put on the back up list.

The fun starts at 10 am and will include a tour of the center to see the animals, story time, a video/videos about that animal, and a small craft.  We will focus on a different animal each session. There is no cost, however, space is limited so please contact Lacey McIntyre at (435) 256-6313 or lacey.mcintyre@washco.utah.gov to reserve your spot!  We suggest ages over 3 for the craft, but all are welcome to come see the animals and listen to a story. We’d love to see you this summer at the Visitor Center located at 10 N. 100 E. in St. George.

*A guardian must stay with the children for the length of these programs.