For the second time in less than three months in St. George, Utah, a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is opening for public tours, with the Church offering the first look inside the newest house of the Lord prior to its dedication.
In conjunction with the Monday, Jan. 29, media day conducted at the new Red Cliffs Utah Temple in southeast St. George, the Church released a video and two dozen interior and exterior photos of the new temple, including nearly 20 photos of the rooms, furnishings, designs and details from inside the new house of the Lord.
Elder Hugo E. Martinez, a General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Church’s Utah Area presidency, presided at Monday’s 10 a.m. event, welcoming media representatives to tour the new temple and explaining the purpose of the temple and the covenants and ordinances associated with the house of the Lord.
Several days of tours for invited guests — including local community, business, educational and faith leaders — will follow, with public tours available Thursday, Feb. 1, through Saturday, March 2, excluding Sundays.
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, will dedicate the Red Cliffs Utah Temple on Sunday, March 24, in two sessions, at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., with the sessions broadcast to all units throughout the temple district.
1 city, 2 temples and their milestone events
The open house and dedication come on the heels of similar events conducted for the recently renovated and rededicated St. George Utah Temple, the Church’s oldest house of the Lord still in operation. It was first dedicated in 1877.
Following its extensive renovation over two-plus years, the St. George temple hosted its public open house beginning Sept. 15, 2023, and concluding Nov. 15, less than three months ago. President Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, rededicated the St. George Utah Temple on Dec. 10.
President Holland, a native of St. George, also presided at the Nov. 7, 2020, groundbreaking of the Red Cliffs temple.
The two open houses and the rededication of the older temple and the dedication of the new one mark the first time that such milestone events for two houses of the Lord have been held so closely together in both time and location.
St. George becomes the fourth city worldwide — and third in Utah — to have two temples of the Church of Jesus Christ, joining South Jordan, Utah; Provo, Utah; and Lima, Peru. The latter had its second temple dedicated last month, the Lima Peru Los Olivos Temple, on Jan. 14, meaning the list of two-temple cities doubled already in 2024.
And the 3.1 miles between the St. George and Red Cliffs temples is the second-shortest distance between two houses of the Lord, behind the 2.4 miles between the Provo Utah and Provo City Center temples and just ahead of the 3.5 miles between the Jordan River Utah and Oquirrh Mountain Utah temples in South Jordan.
Exterior and interior features
Designed in the desert modern and neoclassical architectural styles, the 96,277-square-foot structure of concrete, steel and precast concrete sits on the grounds spanning 15.31 acres, with a palm-tree-lined entrance boulevard running north and south. The desert’s simplicity, symmetry and color are seen in both the exterior and interior of the temple.
A water feature with three reflecting pools and waterfalls and accompanying seats sit on the temple’s north side, with shade structures on both the east and west sides. A pair of trellis structures and a garden area adorn the south side, expected to be used for wedding celebrations and other gatherings.
Motifs in the coral-and-beige-toned precast exterior are inspired by the grand cottonwood trees, mountains and canyons of southern Utah, with stylized cottonwood leaves seen on the top of the exterior walls and tower.
The temple also features exterior arches as well as a vertical emphasis with deep pilasters — rectangular columns projecting from a wall. The pilasters are an architectural cue from the Church’s Wilshire Ward meetinghouse in Los Angeles, California.
The art-glass motifs include the florals and colors of the desert, such as the bearclaw poppy, which is the main motif inside. An endangered endemic species, the poppy has a small, white, four-petal flower with distinct leaves that are jagged and have three “claws” covered in small, soft hairs.
Other interior motifs include succulents, Indian paintbrush and pomegranates.
The exterior art glass has coral, purple, green and gold colors and regional plants — the lower floors with the Indian paintbrush and the upper levels the succulents in hues of purple and green.
Lighting features and the baptismal font area are inspired by leaf shapes and area succulents, while stone and tile patterns suggest the layered structures of local mountains.
Background of the Red Cliffs Utah Temple
St. George’s newest house of the Lord originally was referred to as the Washington County Utah Temple when President Russell M. Nelson announced plans in October 2018 general conference for a second temple in the area. The Washington County name was still referenced when the site location — northeast of 3000 East and 1580 South in southeastern St. George — and preliminary building size were published a year later, in November 2019.
The First Presidency later approved the new name, the Red Cliffs Utah Temple, in June 2020.
Then-Elder Holland presided at the Nov. 7, 2020, groundbreaking. Joined there by his wife, the late Sister Patricia T. Holland, their three children and extended family members, Elder Holland said his thoughts of the future temple turned to “coming home” to the house of the Lord.
“As we talk about home, safety, peace and people who love you, that is a description of the temple — it is the safest, the most welcoming and reassuring place in the world,” he said.
Temples are filled with love and people who will “help and encourage you,” he added.
“The symbolism of our coming home is for me a nice metaphor of coming home to the house of the Lord and being surrounded by people on both sides of the veil — angels, living and deceased — who love you and watch out for you. That is really home. That is the safest, happiest, most family-oriented place in the world.”
On Oct. 16, 2023, the First Presidency announced the dedication and open house dates for the Red Cliffs temple.
Temples in Utah
The Red Cliffs and St. George temples are two of 28 total dedicated, awaiting dedication or under construction in the state of Utah, home of the Church’s world headquarters and nearly 2.2 million Latter-day Saints.
In addition to the St. George temple, Utah’s currently operating temples are the Bountiful, Brigham City, Cedar City, Draper, Jordan River, Logan, Monticello, Mount Timpanogos, Ogden, Oquirrh Mountain, Orem, Payson, Provo, Provo City Center, Saratoga Springs and Vernal temples.
Like the St. George temple was, the Salt Lake and Manti temples are under renovation, with the reconstruction of the Provo Utah Temple to begin in late February. The Manti temple is scheduled for rededication on April 21.
The Taylorsville Utah Temple is scheduled for dedication on June 2 and the Layton Utah Temple two weeks later on June 16. Six other Utah temples are under construction — Deseret Peak, Ephraim, Heber Valley, Lindon, Smithfield and Syracuse.
Red Cliffs Utah Temple
Address: 1555 S. Red Cliffs Temple Lane, St. George, Utah 84790
Temple announced: Oct. 7, 2018, by President Russell M. Nelson
Groundbreaking: Nov. 7, 2020, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Construction start: Nov. 9, 2020
To be dedicated: March 24, 2024, by President Henry B. Eyring
Public open house: Thursday, Feb. 1, through Saturday, March 2 (excluding Sundays)
Property size: 15.31 acres
Building size: 96,277 square feet
Height to top of Angel Moroni statue: 230 feet