Hurricane, Utah

Hurricane, Utah

November 23, 2020

Hurricane is a city in Washington County, Utah, and is a part of the St. George Metropolitan Area. Its population was 13,748 at the 2010 U.S. Census. Along with several other areas of southwestern Utah, the Hurricane area has undergone large population growth since the 1970s. Because of this, it has become a suburb of St. George, while retaining its rural character.


Hurricane was first settled in 1896, and received its name after a whirlwind blew the top off a buggy in which Erastus Snow was riding. Snow exclaimed, "Well, that was a Hurricane. We'll name this 'Hurricane Hill'." [Likely story!]

Hurricane, which is pronounced "Her-ah-kun" by local residents (mimicking the accent of early Liverpudlian settlers), is in eastern Washington County. The community was settled as part of LDS Church President Brigham Young's "Cotton Mission", intended to establish the southern end of Utah for agricultural purposes. The town once operated a large peach and apricot orchard for the LDS Church, and is historically known for growing peaches, pecans and pistachio nuts on small farms.

The 1992 St. George earthquake destroyed three houses as well as above- and below-ground utilities, causing about US$1 million in damage.

Places of interest

The town boasts multiple parks, a new dog park, a city pool and large community center, several ranked golf courses, two reservoirs noted for bass fishing, boating and recreation (Sand Hollow and Quail Creek State Parks), as well as a small municipal airfield. The Hurricane Valley Heritage Park Museum is located on the corner of State Street and Main. There are several medical clinics in the area.

Hurricane Canal and Canal Trail

For approximately 80 years, the Hurricane Canal was the lifeblood of the Hurricane Valley. It was built over a period of 11 years (1893–1904), mostly by pick and shovel. Since 1985, the canal has lain empty. In 2000, special interest groups came together to preserve the canal, receiving grants and volunteering time to construct a trail to stand as a tribute to the early settlers put forth to make the canal a reality. A monument at the trailhead recounts the canal story in brief. Much of the trail, which only covers a small section of the canal, is the actual west bank of the canal, which “canal riders” rode every day when the canal was in operation to ensure there were no leaks or other problems since the bank was somewhat unstable.

Two of the trail's unique aspects are walking in the canal itself – on a steel flume across a wash and through a tunnel immediately thereafter. The trail provides excellent views of the towns of Hurricane and La Verkin throughout. The trail ends before reaching the Virgin River Gorge, approximately five miles from the canal's former headwaters.

Economy and tourism

The one main boulevard is State Street, renovated and designated Utah SR-9. From 100 East to 400 West, the shopping district is designated as a "historical district," with ongoing preservation efforts. Many of the larger homes in town are listed on the National Registry of Historic Homes. Situated on Utah State Route 9, Hurricane lies between Interstate 15 and Zion National Park, and as a result has numerous motels, restaurants and other commercial establishments that serve a portion of the millions of tourists that visit Zion National Park each year. Hurricane also benefits from visitors who are on their way to or from Lake Powell and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park via Utah State Route 59 which intersects State Route 9 within Hurricane city limits.

The Hurricane area is also a growing destination for mountain biking in Southwestern Utah as the city is situated near the popular Gooseberry Mesa, J.E.M and Little Creek mountain biking trails

Hurricane Cliffs

The Hurricane Cliffs of southwest Utah and northwest Arizona are a red, limestone geographic feature, sets of cliffs along the western, eroded edge of the Kaibab Limestone; the cliffs are about 135 mile long, with the south end terminus just north of the Grand Canyon.

They are part of the landforms on the southwest perimeter of the Colorado Plateau, specifically the High Plateaus section; the High Plateaus are transitional to the Great Basin northwest, the Mojave Desert west, and the Arizona transition zone, southwest and south of the Coconino Plateau.

From Arizona, the cliffs trend north into Utah, but north of Hurricane, at Anderson Junction and Pintura, the trendline turns north-northeast, and by Cedar City, Cedar Valley, Summit, and the Parowan Valley, the trend is northeast. At the northeast end of Parowan Valley, which is the Tushar Mountains, the Hurricane Cliffs end.

Interstate 15 follows the foothills of the Cliffs from its north terminus, southwest through Parowan Valley, the townsites of Paragonah-Parowan, and leaves the cliffs at Anderson Junction and Toquerville.

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail descends from the north Markagunt Plateau through the Hurricane Cliffs into Parowan Valley just north of Paragonah. Adjacent south at Summit, and Enoch in northeast Cedar Valley, the Black Mountains narrow at the pass between the Hurricane Cliffs, and a mountain ridgeline, to only 1 mile, the Old Spanish Trail traversed through the pass then crossed west through the center-north of Cedar Valley.

Zion National Park lies nine miles east of the Hurricane Cliffs at Toquerville; the park contains extensive layers of the Kaibab Limestone.

Arizona section

In Arizona, the Hurricane Cliffs border the east of north-flowing Hurricane Wash, located in Black Rock Canyon. From there, the Cliffs trend south to Twin Butte, 6,055 feet, then to Mount Trumbull, 8,028 feet (the Mount Trumbull Wilderness), adjacent to the Sawmill Mountains, and west flank, Uinkaret Mountains, where the Hurricane Cliffs terminate.

The region of the west Uinkaret Mountains, (west Toroweap Valley), is the site of the Toroweap Overlook, below Toroweap Point-(above southeast Toroweap Valley), on the ridgeline of Coconino Sandstone, and the Toroweap Formation rocks above. The Hurricane Cliffs end/begin here, and it is also the connection point of the Hurricane Fault to the Toroweap Fault which crosses from the Grand Canyon, South Rim, and continues north-(North Rim), northeasterly, striking into south Utah. The region of the two faults also give rise to intrusive lavas through rock fractures, and the region is the southeast section of the Uinkaret volcanic field. Lava Falls and Vulcan's Throne are two land forms at the intersection point region of the two faults, (at the Uinkaret Mountains–Colorado River), with Lava Falls, flowing into the Grand Canyon, and with Lava Falls Rapids being one of the largest rapids, blocking the flow of the Colorado.

The Aubrey Cliffs are expressed south of the Colorado River, on the South Rim, and extend due-southwards. They are the west perimeter of the Coconino Plateau, (the Colorado Plateau's southwest).

Hurricane Cliffs Geology

Through a gap in the Virgin anticline [a ridge-shaped fold of stratified rock in which the strata slope downward from the crest] are the Hurricane Cliffs with the town of Hurricane at their base; the cliffs, are an eroded fault scarp [a very steep bank] of the Hurricane fault, southwest Utah's largest, most active earthquake fault. On the skyline, the same brightly colored layers of the Moenkopi Formation form Gooseberry Mesa, capped by the resistant Shinarmp Conglomerate, the basal member of the Chinle Formation.

Near Hurricane, the bulk of the Hurricane Cliffs are eroded from gray limestone that was deposited in Lower Permian time about 270 million years ago. The top of the cliffs are capped by a yellowish-brown limestone deposited almost 250 million years ago at the beginning of the Triassic Period. The boundary between these two rock formations is called the TR-1 unconformity, the first major unconformity of the Triassic Period in southwest Utah representing a gap in the rock record of some 10 million years. Worldwide, the end of the Permian Period corresponds to the great Permian mass extinction, a time 252 million years ago when as much as 95% of all marine species and 70% of all land vertebrates on earth vanished. That great mass extinction left countless ecological niches open and ushered in the age of the dinosaurs at the beginning of the Triassic Period.


Like at Black Ledge to the north, the Hurricane Cliffs are in essence an eroded fault scarp of the Hurricane fault, the largest and most active earthquake fault in southwest Utah and one that is active and capable of producing damaging earthquakes. At Hurricane, the fault juxtaposes Upper Cretaceous strata west of the fault against Permian strata east of the fault, revealing about 3600 feet of displacement over the past several million years. The fault also offsets comparatively young basaltic lava flows, parts of which are preserved as remnants in the cliffs east of town.

The Virgin River cuts through the cliffs between Hurricane and LaVerkin revealing an impressive cross section through the fault zone at the entrance to Timpoweap Canyon. Just upstream of the fault are Pah Tempe hot springs. The springs used to flow about 5000 gpm with a very high 7000 to 10,000 TDS. Unfortunately, the flow of springs disrupted by Washington County Water Conservancy District pipeline work in channel and the hot springs are no longer open to the public. Still, with a water temperature of 100 to 108º F, Pah Tempe has the highest recorded spring-water temperatures in Washington County. The high TDS means that Water Conservancy District extracts Virgin River water from upstream of the springs and pipes it to Quail Creek and Sand Hollow Reservoirs for storage. The springs are present here because this is a natural discharge point for regional groundwater — the groundwater rises through permeable and cavernous Permian strata east of the fault, but the Triassic red beds and the fault zone itself act as barriers to groundwater flow.

The Permian-Triassic unconformity is marked by river-channel deposits eroded down into the Lower Permian Kaibab Formation, and by old soil deposits developed on former paleotopographic high areas. Near Hurricane, these channel and soil deposits are mostly inconspicuous, but southwest of St. George, channels several hundred feet deep are cut down into Kaibab strata. The unconformity represents an episode of dramatic, worldwide sea-level drop and the largest global extinction event in Earth’s history.

The Moenkopi Formation of southwestern Utah, so well exposed at Gooseberry Mesa with its alternating reddish-brown, white, and gray layers, documents renewed shallow-marine sedimentation along the western margin of Pangea. The Moenkopi consists of three transgressive members (the Timpoweap, Virgin Limestone, and Shnabkaib Members that each record an interval of sea-level rise), each of which is overlain by an informally named regressive red-bed member (the lower, middle, and upper red members, respectively, which record sea-level fall); the Rock Canyon Conglomerate Member locally forms the base of the Moenkopi Formation. These members record a series of incursions and retreats of a shallow ocean across a gently sloping continental shelf, where sea-level changes of several feet translated into shoreline changes of many miles

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