Snow Canyon State Park ~ Utah

Snow Canyon State Park ~ Utah

Because there are so many famous scenic destinations that are highly promoted in the Utah, Nevada, Arizona tri-state area, the lesser know places in this region are overshadowed.  For example, during any given week there will be a television spot or social network promotional drive that features Zion National Park, Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon, but little is mentioned about anyplace else in this entire region.  With this in mind, it is no wonder that the two regional National Parks and Sin City have severe overcrowding problems, especially during a holiday weekend.  

Escaping from the rat race is what the ultimate vacation experience is all about!  Instead of jumping from one rat race to another in the Utah, Nevada, Arizona tri-state region, it is better to set sights on lesser known destinations that offer more room to breathe.  All it takes is one look at a map and a little time doing some research to find plenty of places to go in this region that fit the description of a vacation paradise.  

Snow Canyon State Park happens to be one of the lesser known gems that many tourists overlook when visiting the Utah, Nevada, Arizona tri-state area.  Snow canyon is not heavily promoted or overcrowded, because Zion is right next door and everything near this majestic National Park is resigned to live in its shadows.  For a traveler that seeks some peace and quiet, this is like a dream come true! When a fellow tourist states that they are going to Zion during a brief conversation at a local gas station, it is like a sigh of relief for those who heading to Snow Canyon or any of the other nearby Utah State Parks!

The same intriguing geological landscape that Zion is famous for can also found in the nearby Snow Canyon State Park, which is part of the majestic Red Cliffs National Conservation Area next to St George.  The layered sedimentary rock strata tiers in this region are all part of the Escalante Grand Staircase, which stretches north into Bryce Country and east to Glen Canyon.  The variations in this vast multi tiered landscape were all created by volcanic upheavals and extreme erosive forces over eons of time.  By visiting the lesser known scenic destinations in this region, a greater understanding of the overall earth science picture will be gained.  Snow Canyon is a prime example of a place where evidence of these ancient geological forces are on full display.

“Intriguing” is a good choice of word to describe the Snow Canyon visual experience!  Snow Canyon State Park is actually part of the vast Red Cliffs Conservation Area, so this picturesque landscape is as pristine as can be.  The paved road that runs uphill through this mountainside canyon does climb quickly above the hazy dust that envelopes the desert floor below, so before long a visitor will be breathing clean fresh air.  In the crystal clear air of Snow Canyon, distant objects deceptively seem much closer than they really are, so the majestic views can lure hikers to go a bit further than planned. For this reason, it is best to wear some good hiking shoes when visiting Snow Canyon!  

Snow Canyon is the main feature in this multi color sandstone landscape, but this area also has a maze of hidden pocket canyons that are waiting to be discovered. There are vast desert mountainside meadows that stretch out to the red sandstone bluffs and the dry wash ravines have green growth. People do occasionally get lost in this labyrinth of a landscape, but finding ones bearings is easy to do, because all that a lost person has to do is follow a path downhill to end up back in Saint George.  The real problem with getting lost in such a place comes down to the water supply.  For this reason, it is important to pack plenty of water when doing a hiking excursion in Snow Canyon.  

Utah is the land of microclimates and Snow Canyon is no exception.  There may be heavy blizzards 50 miles north, but because the Red Cliffs Conservation Area borders upon the low elevation Mojave Desert, warm air floods this region all winter long.  For this reason, a visitor will probably never see snow fall in Snow Canyon, no matter how bad old man winter gets.  Comfortable winter temperatures that are perfect for exploring the great outdoors is what a visitor can expect, until the extreme heat of summer rolls around.

Snow Canyon has nothing to do with winter snow and the name has no relation to the white color volcanic ash mounds that can be found throughout this area.  Snow Canyon got its moniker from a group of Mormon pioneers that had the name Snow that settled the area long ago.  Remnants of old west ranching can be found throughout Snow Canyon wilderness area, so a visit can be a historical journey as well.  

It is the wide variety of landscapes in Snow Canyon that make a visit to Snow Canyon an excited experience!  There are rusty orange sand dune areas that cover several square miles.  Some of the narrow crags in the towering bluffs are access points to hidden canyons that are like stepping into paradise lost.  The brilliant layers of yellow, orange and red sandstone in the towering rock outcrops are a wonderful sight to see and the dramatic views can be difficult to break away from.  Heading further uphill in Snow Canyon reveals more and more white color ancient volcanic ash mounds that glisten against the cobalt blue skies, which are as picturesque as can be!  All throughout Snow Canyon ancient volcanic black lava flows can be seen with green desert plants growing nearby.  The contrast of the full spectrum of colors in this canyon truly are amazing to marvel over!  

If you seek some peace and quiet away from the crowds, then Snow Canyon State Park in the Red Cliffs Conservation Area is a good place to start an outdoor adventure!  Hiking and rock climbing are the main activities in this majestic canyon, but most visitors come here for the picturesque views that are like nowhere else on earth. The access road through this Utah State Park is paved and there are plenty of parking areas near the featured trailheads and scenic areas.  BLM primitive camping can be found nearby and modern comforts can be found next door in St George. Snow Canyon offers a one of a kind majestic landscape to explore and the geological features are very photogenic. Be sure to pack a picnic cooler, plenty of water and a good camera to make the Snow Canyon venture a memorable one! 


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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