Discover the majestic beauty of Snow Canyon State Park, just nine miles north of St. George along highway 18. Notorious for its unique geological features, Snow Canyon State Park is comprised of volcanic cones, sand dunes, deep red sandstone cliffs, and twisted layers of rock. The scenery is so spectacular it has been the backdrop for Hollywood movies including The Electric Horseman and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid! Campsites cost $16 for tents, $20 for RVs. Pets are allowed if kept on a leash in the campground and on West Canyon Road and Whiptail Trail only.
Opened to the public as a Utah State Park in 1962.
Snow Canyon State Park is a 7,400-acre scenic park quietly tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment. Majestic views and the subtle interplay of light, shadow, and color dancing across canyon walls evoke strong emotional responses from visitors.
Located in the 62,000 acre Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, established to protect the federally listed desert tortoise and its habitat, the park offers opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. 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.
Park History Created in 1959, Snow Canyon has a long history of human use. Anasazi Indians inhabited the region from A.D. 200 to 1250, utilizing the canyon for hunting and gathering. Paiute Indians used the canyon from A.D. 1200 to the mid-1800s. Mormon pioneers discovered Snow Canyon in the 1850’s while searching for lost cattle. Modern-day the canyon has been the site of Hollywood films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Electric Horseman, and Jeremiah Johnson. Originally called Dixie State Park, it was later renamed for Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, prominent pioneering Utah leaders.
Transported by wind more than 183 million years ago, tiny grains of quartzite sand covered much of what we now call Utah. These sand dunes, up to 2,500 feet thick, eventually were cemented into stone. Burnt orange to creamy white in color, Navajo sandstone, the predominant rock in the park, is what remains of the ancient desert sand sea. Over time, water has cut and shaped the sandstone to form canyons. Approximately 1.4 million years ago, and as recently as 27,000 years ago, nearby cinder cones erupted, causing lava to flow down these canyons, filling them with basalt. This redirected ancient waterways, eventually carving new canyons. Look up from within the park to see lava-capped ridges that were once canyon bottoms. Removal of rocks and minerals is prohibited.
From the first parking area just outside of the gatehouse for Snow Canyon you’ll find a paved trail on the west side of the road. This wonderful trail goes 2.8 miles up the canyon and merges with the road at Galoot Hill. The final section can be a challenge due to its steep slope but most of the trail is fairly moderate.
If you want more than just this short section in the canyon you can also connect with the trails that run along Snow Canyon Parkway and along SR-18. Combining these sections will give you an 18-mile loop to enjoy. The vertical distance you’ll have to climb is 1050 with some very steep sections sprinkled in there so be prepared for a workout if you choose to do the whole loop.
Native American Petroplyphs
Please be respectful of these historically significant landmarks. We all have to do our part to protect places like this from graffiti and vandalism. The Park asks that everyone use the Gila Trail do reach these amazing petroglyphs so please respect that and stick to the trail. If you need some extra help finding the exact locations of the petroglyphs please visit Hikestgeorge.com.
If you would like to read more about this unique hike please read the blog post we wrote about it.
With more than 38 miles of trails in Snow Canyon, you won’t have a hard time filling up a day or two with hike after hike in this beautiful desert scenery. There is a surprising amount of diversity in this small State Park. You can see lava rock that even has lava tubes in them, petrified sand dunes rolling and swirling like giant frozen waves, towering sandstone cliffs and tiny slot canyons.
Trails, distance, and points of interest on them:
Butterfly Trail, Miles 1.2, High vantage overlook
Cinder Cone Trail, Miles 2
Gila Trail, Miles 15, Petroglyphs
Hidden Pinyon Trail, Miles 1.2
Jenny’s Canyon trail, Miles 0.4, (closed Mar 15 – Jun 1) Slot canyon
Johnson’s Canyon, Miles 1.8, (closed Mar 15 – Oct 31) Large stone arch
Lava Flow Trail, Miles 2.2, Lava tubes
Petrified Dunes Trail, Miles 1.4
Pioneer Names Trail, Miles 0.5 Pioneers wrote their names into the rock when they arrived in the area 100 years ago
Sand Dunes Trail, Miles 0.5
Scout Cave Trail, Miles 5.6, Shallow caves formed in the side of sandstone cliffs
Three Ponds Trail, Miles 3.6
West Canyon Road, Miles 8, Open to mountain bikes
Whiptail Trail, Miles 6, Paved trail good for cycling
Take a thrilling equestrian approach to exploring this beautiful State Park. Contact Snow Canyon Trail Rides to schedule a horseback tour of the park. They offer morning, evening and full day trips. You don’t need to be a horse expert either, beginners are welcome!
Contact info: email@example.com PO Box 338 Santa Clara, Ut 84765 435.773.7630
This is not an extreme spelunking adventure but more of a short trip into the tubes left over from volcanic activity long ago. You will be able to find these tubes by hiking either the Lava Flow trail or the Whiterocks Trail. The longest tube only goes in about 75 yards but they are a fun little adventure to add some spice to a hike. Bring a flashlight though because they still get pretty dark in the back.
Rock Climbing Routes
When in St. George
Stop by our Tourism Office & Visitor Center for information on St. George, Zion National Park, and other attractions. It’s the perfect first stop for visitors to the area to discover something new, ask questions and pick up materials.
Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Address 20 North Main Street, Suite 105, St. George, UT 84770