Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Visitors Center

Tom and I have been heading to St. George Utah on a regular basis, every two to three weeks.  St. George has 100,000 people and has all the big box stores and chain restaurants you could desire.  The grocery stores are bigger and there is a Lowes and JoAnns.  It takes about  75 minutes to drive to St. George.  On a recent trip we decided to start our day by hiking in Snow Canyon.

As well as having a lot of people, St. George also sits at a lower elevation and consequently has higher temperatures than Pipe Spring.  Temperatures in St. George are routinely over 100 degrees on summer days.  The park isn’t named Snow Canyon because it gets lots of snow or is cool.  The park was named after prominent Latter Day Saints leaders Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.  We headed to Snow Canyon early in order to get some hiking done before the temperature rose.

Snow Canyon State Park is 7,400 acres of colorful rock formations.  The red sandstone cliffs are interspersed with white navajo sandstone and black lava rocks.  The canyon has 38 miles of well-developed and well-marked hiking trails.  Anasazi and Paiute both lived within the canyon walls.

We paid a $10 entrance fee, then drove to the Visitors Center and Campground.  There are 33 campground sites available with water and electric.  Unfortunately the Visitors Center was closed.  It said the person would be back at 9:30.  Since it was already 9:45, we didn’t have much confidence in that number.  So we checked our park map and headed out on the trails.

Trails are well-marked

The 38 miles of hiking trails overlap and intersect all through the park, especially around the campground.  We combined several different trails for a good hike through the diverse and interesting area.  We hiked Hidden Pinyon Trail to West Canyon Road.  This trail took us through a rocky gap down to the valley floor.  Then we headed north up the West Canyon Road which was easy walking although hot and unshaded.

The most difficult part of our hike was the walk up the Lava Flow Trail.  We gained elevation as we hiked over the uneven trail of basalt rocks, leaving us breathless.  The Butterfly Trail sounded easier, but turned out to have several steep parts where we lost the trail.  Collapsed lava tubes on the trail were particularly interesting.

Collapsed lava tube

The day was heating up and we were running low on water, so we were glad to begin the last leg of our hike along the Petrified Dunes Trail.  Rock cairns guided us as we headed up and over the dunes.  We concluded our hike on the paved Padre Canyon Trail.  All together we hiked about five miles in this beautiful park.

After that hike, we cooled off in the air conditioning in the truck while driving into St. George to do our shopping.  When we started our hike the temperature was 78.  When we finished, two hours later, the temperature was 94.  By the time we finished our shopping the temperature was up to 106.

Snow Canyon State Park is a beautiful place to visit and hike.  We enjoyed our hike very much although next time we will take more water.