5 Spectacular Snow Canyon Hikes – Don’t Miss Snow Canyon State Park Utah on Your Southwest Trip!

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Looking for tips on things to do in Snow Canyon State Park?

We were blown away by the spectacular Snow Canyon hikes we did in what has to be the best parks in St George Utah. Down below are our tips on the best hiking trails, where to stay, how to get to this park, and more!

“Red and yellow and pink and green”

Savannah and I sang through the colors of the Rainbow pointing out each color as we saw it in the kaleidoscope world of Snow Canyon State Park Utah surrounding us.

We were walking past various shades of yellow and green cactus and desert plants.

The orange and red sand underneath our feet padded our walk and beside our path were clumps of black basalt indicating the flow of lava that came through here 27,000 years go.

High above the Navajo sandstone cliffs of surrounded us in pinks, burnt orange, reds, yellows and whites. And of, course up above a brilliant blue sky rounded it off.

Savannah, we’re walking in a rainbow!!

Snow Canyon Utah is a true nature lover’s dream, and I have to say it’s almost as spectacular as the nearby Zion National Park.

Welcome to Utah. I think the entire state should just be claimed as a national park.

Where is Snow Canyon State Park?

Snow Canyon is a 7,400 acre scenic park located just outside of St George in Southwestern Utah.

This park is comprised of volcanic cinder cone, sand dunes, deep red and white sandstone cliffs, and twisted layers of rock.

Hollywood has recognized its backdrop brilliance for movies such as The Electric Horseman and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!

The kids will love it here.

There are 38 miles of hiking trails, a three-mile paved biking trail, horse trails, rock climbing, volcano exploring, and majestic views from the Snow Canyon drive!

This State Park is named after Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, prominent pioneering Utah leaders, not for the fluffy white stuff that rarely falls here.

Although the white peaked mountains in the distance certainly give off the illusion of snow.

Things to Do in Snow Canyon State Park
Best Snow Canyon Hikes

Good news. If you love hiking, it’s one of the best things to do in Snow Canyon State Park, and if have young kids like us, the Snow Canyon hikes are very family-friendly!

They are short, easy and full of rocks to scramble over which will keep the kids engaged and happy.

We merged several trails into one big loop walk so they we could see the best of what the park has to offer.

Many thanks to the helpful park ranger who plotted it out for us. We started at the campground visitor center within the State Park

We visited for half a day and below is the order of the hike we followed. The mileage in parenthesis is if you do each trail individually.

By combining them, the trail was around 5 miles.

Hidden Pinyon Trail

  • Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
  • Rated: Moderate

We took the Hidden Pinyon Trail from the Visitor Center to begin our hike. It’s an easy walk through a few rocky slopes and sandy self-guided nature trail.

You can take the trail on a longer loop through red rock landscape to get onto the petrified sand dunes or just take the short direct route there.

We took the short route thinking we’d run short of time.

In hindsight I think we could have done the longer scenic route. It would only add on an extra mile maybe to this St George hike.

Petrified Dunes Trail

  • Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
  • Rated: Moderate

Leads to the Petrified Sand Dunes

As soon as you get on this trail from the hidden pinyon trail, turn left and take the very short trail up to red rock mounds.

It is one of the most spectacular views of the park. WOWZERS.

The girls sliding themselves through a few tiny mailbox holes they found in the rocks.

The trail then continues across massive Navajo sandstone outcrops and sand dunes frozen in time.

We loved seeing the ripples that the wind obviously once created in the dunes that froze. The girls could easily see how they were once sand dunes.

You can spend some time here scrambling up and down the different rocks and playing. Our kids raced each other up and down them. It was my favorite part of the total hike we did.

Definitely put this trail on your list of Snow Canyon State Park hikes to do!

Butterfly Trail

  • Distance: 2 miles round trip
  • Rated: Moderate

The Petrified Dunes Trail leads to the Butterfly Trail which is near the parking lot.

It’s a 2-mile round trip hike that winds along the west side of the Petrified Sand dunes and leads to the lava tubes which is where we continued on from.

There is one steep slope but generally it’s an easy and open trail with beautiful views of the canyon and surrounding mountains.

Lava Flow Trail

  • Distance: 2.5 miles round trip
  • Rated: Moderate

More than 27,000 years ago lava erupted from a nearby now extinct volcano. Use your imagination and see the path the lava rock followed down this canyon, black basalt marking its trail.

Surrounding this area are the magnificent views of the White Rocks Mountains to the north and the red cliffs of Padre Canyon to the west.

I didn’t find this trail as striking as the others although I did like the contrast of the black lava with surrounding rainbow landscape.

It’s a wonderful learning opportunity for kids though as you hike through a jumbled lava field, the remains of a volcano eruption that happened 27,000 years ago.

Interpretative panels along the way help explain more about the lava eruption and resulting land formation.

Here you will find the Snow Canyon State Park lava tubes which are fun to explore. They were very different to the lava tubes we experienced near Bend, Oregon which were gigantic and easy to walk through.

These ones we had to crawl through tiny spaces with flashlights to get a good look at. It was fun, but I’d prefer the Bend ones as you could better visualize the gigantic lava flows creating it. These ones just felt like caves.

Still fascinating and the kids will love it.

Whiptail Trail

  • Distance: 6 miles round trip
  • Rated: Easy

From the Lava Flow Trail we ended up at the parking lot and walked down the road until we reached the start of the Whiptail Trail.

The Whiptail Trail is a 6-mile round trip trail that is fully paved and great for bikes.

We walked just over a mile on it back to the Visitor Campground where our car was parked.

Other Hiking Trails in Snow Canyon State Park

  • Jenny’s Canyon Trail is a slot canyon, however it’s closed from March – June
  • Sand Dunes Trail looks like the beach has been strategically placed within the desert. I even saw people sitting on beach chairs admiring the mountain views.
  • Johnson’s Canyon 1.8 miles takes you to a large stone arch. It’s closed Mar – Oct
  • White Rocks Trail can be done on horseback
  • Snow Canyon State Park Petroglyphs – a 5 mile moderate hike through red rocks and sand will bring you in a loop to four main petroglyph sites including a slot canyon filled with them. One for us to come back for.

You can read more here.

More Activities in Snow Canyon

  • Biking is permitted on West Canyon Road, the Whiptail Trail and all Paradise Canyon Trails. We walked along the Whiptail Trail, which is paved and looked fun for mountain biking.
  • Rock climbing is one of the other popular things to do in Snow Canyon State Park. We saw many people climbing the rock faces lining the main road. BUT, be very careful. The weekend after we visited a 13-year old boy tragically fell 100 feet free climbing and died!
  • Horseback riding is another way to enjoy the beauty of Snow Canyon. Find out more here.

You can read our Snow Canyon travelogue here. 

Watch our video from Snow Canyon State Park

 

Planning a Trip to Snow Canyon State Park
Camping at Snow Canyon State Park

For Snow Canyon State Park camping options, there is a 33-site campground easily accessible off the Snow Canyon parkway with water and electric hook up, drinking water and sewage disposal station.

Be sure to carry plenty of water and avoid hiking in the high heat. This is the desert and there is little shade.

Stick to the trails and designated climbing areas.

For Snow Canyon campground reservations go here.

For campgrounds in St George Utah go here.

For other Utah State Parks go here.

Where to Stay in St George

We stayed at the KOA St George Hurricane which we were not too impressed with, although it was close to Sand Hollow State Park (where we did our awesome ATV adventure) and Red Cliffs National Recreation Area (more red mountains to enjoy!)

Hotels in St George Utah that come recommended are:

  • The Desert Garden Inn offers free WIFI, parking, a pool with a view and a hot breakfast. It’s great for families and they allow pets.
  • Best Western Abbey Inn is located in the middle of St. George giving you easy access to restaurants and stores. Free breakfast, pool and hot tub.
  • Wingate by Wyndham is also located near restaurants and shops. It also has a free shuttle, complimentary bike rental, free breakfast, pool and is pet friendly.
  • Inn at Entrada is a luxury resort choice located just outside of the STUNNING Snow canyon Sate Park. Golfers will love this choice.
  • Inn on the Cliff is another resort option that often makes the Best of Lists! Gorgeous views, especially from the pool.

Airbnb in St George

Looking for more of a home or apartment stay? You can often find great deals on Airbnb rentals for St George.

Currently there are 300+ homes in St George to choose from. 

Directions to Snow Canyon Utah

This St George State Park is just under two hours from Las Vegas.

So you could visit Sand Hollow State Park if you’re looking for day trips from Las Vegas, however we recommend spending longer in the region as there are so many cool things to do in St. George Utah.

Rental Cars

If you don’t have your own vehicle, see these resources:

  • You can hire a car from Vegas here.
  • Or from St George here

Flights to St George Utah

St George also has an airport if you don’t want to fly into Vegas and drive.

Search flights to all these airports here

Tours around St George

Looking for interesting tours to do around the St George area? You can join one of the guided tours below with experienced leaders.

Check out these popular tours:

I hope this guide helps you plan your own trip to Snow Canyon. If you still have questions, leave a comment below!

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