West of St George, Utah, across US91 from Santa Clara and Ivins, Utah, in a canyon of the Santa Clara River, is the little-known archaeological site the Santa Clara River Reserve. The banner photo is a view of the Red Mountains (foreground), the city of Ivins, and Pine Valley Mountains (background), from inside the Reserve. The site is managed by the BLM.
“The SCRR [Santa Clara River Reserve] encompasses the entire 1,645 acre Santa Clara/Land Hill Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) which contains numerous prehistoric sites and essential riparian habitat. Critical habitat for Threatened and Endangered plant species including the Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy (Arctomecon humilis) and the Holmgren Milkvetch (Astragalus homgreniorum) is also incorporated into the SCRR. [The Red Bluff ACEC borders the Land Hill ACEC on the south, the Shivwits Reservation borders it on the west.]
The lower reach of the Santa Clara River has been used and modified by humans for thousands of years. Evidence of different cultures is found throughout the ACEC in the form of habitation sites, special activity areas, and rock art localities.
During the Formative Period (ca. 700 B.C. to A.D. 1200) the indigenous people (labeled by archaeologists as Ancestral Puebloans or Virgin Anasazi) became corn and bean farmers who irrigated their crops by diverting water from streams like the Santa Clara River.
They constructed permanent village sites and produced fine quality ceramics. Populations living along the Santa Clara River appear to have increased between A.D. 700-1100 (Pueblo I-II), leaving abundant and tangible evidence of their presence on Land Hill, along the riparian corridor, and elsewhere in the area of the ACEC.
After A.D. 1200, archaeological sites attributable to the Ancestral Puebloans become increasingly rare, suggesting that changing climatic conditions or other factors forced a change in lifestyle for these early farmers. [Source: BLM]
Some archaeologists believe a 23-year drought forced migration from southeastern Utah, perhaps also here?.
Around 1200 AD the Paiute Tribe migrated into the area and remains there today, based out of the Shivwits Reservation, which borders the SCRR on the west.
There are 22 trails in the SCRR, some of which have interesting names like Rim Reaper, Precipice, and Suicidal Tendencies; all trails are non-motorized - the SCRR Trails Map has keys/icons for permissible access on each trail. View Photos is an auto-show of photos in the Photo Gallery, with photos inside Santa Clara River Reserve of Land Hill, petroglyphs, and the Santa Clara River Riparian zone.