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Petrified red rock sand dunes, stunning canyons and an assortment of trails make Snow Canyon State Park an ideal destination for a day

We have travelled through Southern Utah a few times mainly to visit the incredible National Parks, such as Zion and Bryce Canyon. On our last to visit to Zion we got chatting with a fellow hiker who lives in St George, Utah area and she recommended we check out Snow Canyon State Park which is located just a few miles from St George. So, a day later we stopped by to visit and we were not disappointed.

What to see in Snow Canyon

1. BUTTERFLY, LAVA FLOW TUBES & WEST CANYON ROAD LOOP

We recommend the first stop on your Snow Canyon visit is to take an amazing loop hike, combining several trails, with a variety of interesting discoveries along the way. This trail start at the Petrified Dunes parking lot.

The first part of the hike is along the Butterfly Trail which passes among stunning red rock formations. There are several viewpoints along the way where you get incredible viewpoints across the Park. 

The start of the Butterfly Trail, Snow Canyon State Park
The desert landscape of Snow Canyon

From the Butterfly Trail you can hop on to the Lava Flow Trail which has some of the most interesting volcanic formations in the Park—lava tubes! These lava tubes are deep caves, which were once filled with flowing lava, but are now hollow tunnels. There is no lighting in the tunnel and once you get beyond the cave openning it will quickly get very dark, so make sure to bring your headlamp for exploring these caves.

Lava tube entrance at Snow Canyon State Park

Beyod the lava tubes, there is also a stunning overlook along the trail that you can climb to get a great view of the surrounding valley. Getting to the overlook requires a bit of scrambling over a rocky trail but the views are well worth it!

Lavaflow overlook (credit NaturalAtlas.com)

The trail connects with West Canyon Road for the final section which takes you to the Petrified Dunes parking lot and trail.

The whole hike is only 2.8 miles with 393 feet elevation change. State Park.

2. THE PETRIFIED DUNES TRAIL

The Petrified Dunes are only a half-mile walk from the parking lot and this trail can be combined with the Butterfly Trail. Here tiny grains of sand have been cemented together to create these petrified dunes. The dunes have been worn down and it has created natural steps on the dunes themselves which makes them easier to climb and gives them a more interesting appearance!

The Petrified Dunes at Snow Canyon State Park
A view atop the Petrified Dunes

3. JENNY’S CANYON

Jenny’s Canyon is a very accessible slot canyon. It is an easy half-mile sandy walk from the road. The walls are extremely tall and the red sandstone is carved and honeycombed. In a few places, there are miniature pillars and arches. The sculpted canyon is only a few hundred feet long, but if you look up the sky is just a narrow sliver above you.

Jenny's Canyon

4. SAND DUNES

As well as petrified sand dunes, Snow Canyon has living sand dunes that are great fun to explore. As with the local sandstone, these sands are red coloured. There are short hikes among the dunes – hopefully, you will get to see some of the local flora and fauna. This is also a great place for a picnic or just playing in the sand!

The sand dunes at Snow Canyon
The sand dunes of Snow Canyon are set within the walls of the canyon itself

5. PIONEER NAMES TRAIL

The Pioneer Names Trail in Snow Canyon State Park is a short and fun little hike from the main road along a sandy path. On the trail route is a canyon wall that has been written on by Mormon families who settled in the area as early as 1881. The names were written in wagon axle grease and has remained protected by the arch that it sits under. Early Mormon Pioneers would often picnic in the canyon, and these writings were likely left by members of picnic parties and/or cattle ranchers. 

This is also a popular area for rock climbers and your will see the anchors in the canyon walls, and if you are lucky you may get to see some climbs scaling these cliff faces.

In summary …

  • Very close to St George, Utah and a great side visit if you are in the area to visit Zion, National Park
  • Easy to explore in a day with lots of easy trails that are suitable for families
  • It gets hot in the summer so wear hats, put on sunscreen and take plenty of water
  • Don’t forget to bring and headlamp or flashlight if you want to explore the lava tubes

About Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is a 7,400-acre scenic park located within the 62,000 acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve which was established to protect the federally listed desert tortoise – keep a beady eye out for these rare beasts during your visit! Snow Canyon is made up of sand dunes, lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs.

Activities include hiking, nature studies, wildlife viewing, photography, camping, ranger talks, and junior ranger programs. There are more than 38 miles of hiking trails, a three-mile paved walking/biking trail, and over 15 miles of equestrian trails.

 

Planning your visit to Snow Canyon

Location: 1002 Snow Canyon Dr, Ivins, UT 84738
Websitehttps://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/snow-canyon/
Hours:6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Fees:Utah residents $10, non-residents $15

Best time to visit Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is great all year long!

In the Summer months, the park gets very hot, and in the winter months, nightly temperatures can dip below freezing. See average temperatures below.

I think the best time to visit Snow Canyon State Park is in the Spring and Fall months. The weather is fantastic for camping and hiking, and there are fewer crowds than in the Summer months.

Where to stay

1. RED MOUNTAIN RESORT

LUXURY ACCOMMODATION

Offering a seasonal outdoor pool, Red Mountain Resort is located at the base of Snow Canyon State Park. Free WiFi is provided. A full-service health spa and salon is available.

Canyon Breeze Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily at Ivins Red Mountain Resort. Fitness classes and health classes are available weekly. Guided hiking and biking tours are also offered.

2. INN ON THE CLIFF

MID-RANGE ACCOMMODATION

Serving a free continental breakfast to each guest room, the Inn on the Cliff is 20 minutes drive from Snow Canyon State Park. Guests can relax in a seasonal outdoor pool and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi is provided.

Offering a private balcony, each room also includes a 50-inch flat-screen cable TV, a small refrigerator and coffee-making facilities at St George Inn on the Cliff. A private bathroom is included.

3. MY PLACE HOTEL

ECONOMY ACCOMMODATION

Located in St. George, My Place Hotel – St. George, UT provides accommodations with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a shared lounge and barbecue facilities. Attractions in the area include Daughters of Utah Pioneer Museum, 2.5 mi away, or Pioneer Center for the Arts, set 2.5 mi from the property.

My Place Hotel – St. George, UT offers 2-star accommodations with a hot tub and sun terrace. Guests at the accommodations will be able to enjoy activities in and around St. George, like hiking and cycling.

4. CAMPING – SNOW CANYON STATE PARK

Snow Canyon has a small campsite with 14 RV sites with water and electrical hook-ups and 17 multi-use campsites. 

Park SeasonSite TypeNightly/Daily Rates

Peak Season

Jan 01 2021 –
Dec 31 2021

STANDARD-PARTIAL HOOKUP$35.00
STANDARD$30.00-$35.00
GROUP STANDARD
$125.00-$150.00
GROUP DAY USE
$75.00
Peak Season
Jan 01 2022 –
Dec 31 2022
STANDARD-PARTIAL HOOKUP
$35.00
STANDARD
$30.00-$35.00
GROUP STANDARD
$125.00
GROUP DAY USE
$75.00

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