A new student’s guide to getting outside

As incoming T-Birds get acquainted with their new campus, it is important to learn about all the opportunities they have to get outside and enjoy the remarkable lands that are in and around Cedar City. For those looking to discover new places or experience the thrill of the wild, here is a new student’s guide to experiencing Southern Utah. 

National and State Parks

Southern Utah University is aptly referred to as the “University of the Parks” due to the abundance of federal and state parks in its vicinity. Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are each within an hour-and-a-half drive from campus and offer iconic hikes such as Angels Landing and Wall Street. Twenty miles up Cedar Canyon, just east  of the university, is Cedar Breaks National Monument, offering similar views to Bryce Canyon at half the distance. Those willing to travel two or three hours can experience Great Basin National Park in Nevada or the iconic Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Students planning on visiting these parks several times might consider purchasing an annual national parks pass to save a buck.

Washington County, located south of Cedar City, offers three unique state parks that can make for great day-trips: Snow Canyon, Sand Hollow and Quail Creek. These are popular destinations for hiking, camping, fishing, swimming and boating. As these parks are not federally managed and require separate fees, prospective visitors might consider purchasing a state parks pass

Local wilderness areas and public lands

Those looking for free destinations with fewer crowds can find respite in nearby wilderness areas and public lands such as the local Ashdown Gorge Wilderness or Spring Creek Canyon Wilderness. These areas offer great hiking and primitive camping but are subject to wilderness regulations.

The Bureau of Land Management also operates a top-of-the-line trail system just outside of town that is popularly used for mountain biking and hiking. This system can be accessed from several trailheads such as Southview or Thunderbird Gardens. 

The Kanarraville Falls trail is a local favorite, but hiking permits must be purchased in advance.

Programs, clubs and courses

Some of the best opportunities unique to students are school-sponsored programs and clubs. SUU Outdoors offers outdoor gear for all types of adventures at discounted rates, as well as free trips and events. Those willing to spend a relatively inexpensive buck for more exciting trips might also consider joining one of their paid adventures. For more information on SUU Outdoors, visit their website or check in at Basecamp, located near Chick-fil-A in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.

The SUU community also has a spread of over 120 clubs to consider, many of which focus on outdoor activities. These include the Women of the Outdoors, the Wilderness Warriors and the Hammocking clubs. These groups provide the opportunity to make new friends, explore new interests and acquire new skills. 

Students majoring in Outdoor Recreation in Parks and Tourism, or even those just looking for an extra fun and informative class, might think of enrolling in a corresponding course. These can be entry-level, one-credit courses such as Climbing I or Backpacking. 


The single most effective way to discover what Cedar City has to offer and to build your outdoor expertise is to meet others with similar interests. Consider carpooling with newfound friends and splitting the cost of your excursions to save a buck and limit your carbon footprint. 

Public areas such as the climbing wall in the J.L. Sorenson Physical Education Building are great environments in which you can meet like-minded individuals also looking to get outside. 


Story by: Jared Clawson
Photos by: Jared Clawson