Utah is bursting with national and state parks and is a desert state like no other. One of the many underrated state parks everyone should visit while in Utah is Snow Canyon, State Park. The state part is located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and is one of the state's forgotten gems. Here one will see a landscape of red and white Navajo sandstone, an extinct volcano, lava flows, lava tubes, and sand dunes.
Utah is a state one could spend a whole summer exploring - it has the third most national parks in the United States (after Alaska and California). Utah is without a doubt one of the most rewarding to enjoy an epic road trip. Go in different seasons and see how the landscapes and ecosystems change. See the contrast between the sometimes searing heat of summer and the cold of winter when the desert is blanketed with a dusting of snow.
Why Snow Canyon State Park Is Worth Visiting
Snow Canyon State Park is located in the cities of Ivins and St. George and is approximately 312 miles south of Salt Lake City. While it may not be a national park, it boasts geological features that leave visitors spellbound and mesmerized.
- Located: 312 Miles South Of Salt Lake City
The park spans some 7,400 acres and boasts several sandstone canyons. The landscapes offer a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment within the larger 62,000 Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. It was established to protect the federally listed desert tortoise and its environment.
- Navajo Sandstone
- Extinct Santa Clara Volcano
- Lava Tubes
- Lava Flows
- Sand Dunes
Snow Canyon is in a transitional zone and sits at the junction of the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and the Mojave Desert. While the Navajo sandstone has been countless millions of years in the making, the most recent volcanic eruptions have been shaping the land as recently as 27,000 years ago.
Besides Snow Canyon, there are a number of other canyons to explore like the West Canyon, Johnson Canyon, and Jenny's Canyon.
In prehistory, the region was inhabited by Ancestral Puebloans who used the canyon for hunting and gathering. After them, it was used by the Southern Paiute until the arrival of white settlers.
- Utah Residents: $10.00 Per Vehicle
- Non-Utah Residents: $15.00 Per Vehicle
Activities In The Snow Canyon State Park
The main activities in the Snow Canyon State Park are mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding. There are around 16 miles of hiking trails in the park as well as technical rock climbing - although note that many of the trails are only open seasonally. Be sure to bring one's camera as there is a mosaic of photographic opportunities.
Top Things To Do In Snow Canyon:
- Ranger Programs
- Mountain Biking
- Horseback Riding
- Rock Climbing
Plan the trip in advance and take advantage of the ranger talked and junior ranger programs on offer.
Hiking In Snow Canyon
There are plenty of hiking trails in Snow Canyon as well as the wider Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. In the desert, the reserve has a total of over 38 miles of hiking trails, three miles of paved walking trails, and over 15 miles of equestrian trails.
There are too many trails in Snow Canyon to list out here, but here are a couple of them.
- Whiptail Trail: 6 Miles, Easy, Runs Along The Canyon Bottom - Suitable for Hiking, Jogging, and Biking
- Johnson Canyon: 2 Miles, Easy, Winds Through Lava Flows And Red Rock To An Arch
- Three Ponds: 3.5 Miles, Moderate, Winds Through Sandy Washes To The Mouth Of A Canyon
Camping In Snow Canyon State Park
"Camp in the peaceful campground surrounded by ancient lava flows and red Navajo sandstone. Discover the secrets of the desert landscape through seasonal nature programs."
Camping is one of the best ways to really soak in the atmosphere of one of Utah's most stunning state parks. Camping is also an attractive option with a number of campsites and sites for RVs. Watch the colors change with the evening glow and see the refreshing dawn brake over the spectacular desert.
- Camping Season: Open Year Round
- Non-Hookup Sites: $40.00 Per Night
- Hookup Sites: $45.00 Per Night
- Extra Vehicle: $20.00 Per Night
Slow things down and camp in the serenity of nature and sleep to the sounds and calls of birds and animals.