Discovering Snow Canyon State Park Utah

Snow Canyon State Park Utah. Photo by Dan Sanchez

Snow Canyon State Park Utah. Photo by Dan Sanchez

Enjoy Utah’s red rock formations without the National Park crowds in Snow Canyon State Park.

Located in St. George, Utah, Snow Canyon State Park offers beautiful views of Utah’s red rock and other unique formations that are visible along 18 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing routes, biking, horseback riding and campgrounds that are open all year long.

With a name like Snow Canyon, you wouldn’t think it’s a warm place to visit  in the winter, but winter is probably the best time to enjoy the park, as it’s located in the south western portion of the state that offers relief from the colder temperatures of the north.

The park was established in 1959 and was originally named Dixie Canyon. Later the name was changed to honor prominent Utah pioneers,  Lorenzo and Eratus Snow. Pioneers entering into the area in the 1850’s wrote their names on the red rock canyon walls with axle grease, much of which is still visible today.

Anasazi and Paiute Indians also inhabited the area, but the Canyon’s most prominent history comes from the variety of movies that have been filmed there.  These include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jeremiah Johnson and The Electric Horseman, that propose the area may have been a favorite spot for actor Robert Redford.

Early mormon pioneers wrote their names on one of the cliff faces with axle grease.
Early Mormon pioneers wrote their names on one of the cliff faces with axle grease.

Along the 7,400 acre park, Navajo sandstone dominates the skyline but other features such as petrified sand dunes and lava flows are also visible and add to the beauty of the park.  The wildlife is abundant and you’ll probably see a variety of small lizards and snakes, but the area is also home to gila monsters and tortoises that often draw a crowd or can cross the road at any time.

Rock jocks will enjoy the 170 climbing routes in the park, but some are closed in the summer when temperatures can rise into the 100’s. The ranger can supply you with maps, climbing route locations and additional information.

The area is also great for family bike rides, especially along the Whip Tail Trail, which is a six mile paved road that runs parallel to the main road through the park, but offers better views.

Most of the hiking trails are short and moderate, but many are in gravel and sand. So it’s a good idea to make sure you use proper hiking boots as sand can easily get into low-top sneakers and cause you lots of discomfort during your hike.  Another must see is the Johnson Canyon trail. It’s a short 2 miles but it’s closed from March thru October so it’s best to visit it during the winter where you can walk through lava flows and red rock to end up at a spectacular natural arch that spans across 200 ft.

Snow Canyon has 33 campgrounds with water and electric-hook ups for trailers and several tent and group campsites too. The facilities also include showers , drinking water and a sewage disposal station. Park rangers recommend making reservations a minimum of two days in advance and up to 16 weeks in advance from park check-out dates. Group reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance. For more information, visit www.stateparks.utah.gov or call (435) 628-2255.

White mountains overlook petrified sand dunes.
White mountains overlook petrified sand dunes.
A weathered tree stands guard over erroded top rock that end up like marbels.
A weathered tree stands guard over eroded top rock that end up like marbles.
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