Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: January 2023
Snow Canyon State Park is located in red-rock country in southwestern Utah. Despite its name, it seldom snows here. The park features dramatic sandstone cliffs, colourful canyons, petrified sand dunes and lava flows and offers plenty of hiking trails to enjoy the desert landscape.
After spending the morning hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park, we needed a bit of a break. So we decided to head to Snow Canyon for the afternoon, located about an hour away near the city of St. George. We drove through the northern entrance of the park where we handed over our entrance fee and were given a map to help us explore.
To start off, we went for a hike along the Petrified Dunes (1.9km round trip, rated moderate). The trail leads across Navajo sandstone hills to a viewpoint of the valley. Nearly 200 million years ago this area was once covered in tiny grains of quartz sand. These ancient sand dunes eventually solidified into stone and over time were carved and shaped by flowing water. The trail provides a closer look at these reddish-orange rocks with interesting patterns of ripple marks swirling in different directions.
The trail is signed with brown circular markers along the rocks and signed posts in the ground, often with an arrow to point you in the right direction. From the parking lot, the trail starts out along a flat and sandy path before reaching the petrified sand dunes. We then made our way up and across the red ripply rocks.
We followed the signs down the sand dunes where the path levels out and becomes sandy again. There is a turnoff (in both directions) for the Red Sands Trail, but we continued onwards and back up the sand dunes. Along the way we found a few black and charred looking rocks, showing evidence that a volcano erupted here long ago, creating lava flows and lava-capped ridges. The trail leads to a ledge that provides sweeping views of the canyon below.
Our next stop was at Jenny’s Canyon (0.5km round trip, rated easy) where there’s a short path through the sandy terrain that leads to a short, sculpted slot canyon. The trail is outlined with volcanic rocks and is relatively flat. You can even walk inside the slot canyon to the very end.
The sun was starting to set and it was getting chilly outside. On the drive out of the park, we squeezed in one last hike to the Whiterocks Amphitheatre (1.4km round trip, rated easy). There are a few different access points to the trail, including a couple of connector paths along the Whiterocks Trail, Lava Flow Trail or Gila Trail. In the interest of time, we opted for the shortest route possible from the parking lot along State Route 18, located just outside the northern entrance of the park. There’s a short path through the sand and desert shrubbery that leads to a natural sandstone amphitheatre. The rocks here were white, creating a nice contrast to the red rocks deeper in Snow Canyon.
We took one last look at the setting sun before heading back to Springdale.
83 thoughts on “Snow Canyon State Park”
Beautiful pictures! I haven’t heard of this park before but I’ll have to add it to my list.
Thanks for your kind words. Our visit to Snow Canyon State Park was rather spontaneous and wasn’t initially on our itinerary. Because we had finished many of the easier trails in Zion and didn’t have much energy left after completing Angels Landing, we decided to check out Snow Canyon since it was nearby and had favourable reviews. I’m glad we went as the landscape was beautiful.
The rock formations and petrified sand dunes are just incredible. And from red stones to white stones … nature never ceases to amaze me! Your photos are truly beautiful – I especially like that last one of the setting sun.
It was a feast for the eyes with all the colourful and swirly rocks. Nature really is the best artist. Visiting Snow Canyon was a great way to spend the rest of our afternoon.
Wow, this is so pretty! I’ve never heard of this park but I’m definitely adding it to my list for when we return to Zion. I love the swirly rocks and the slot canyon!
Snow Canyon is definitely worth visiting. It’s a relatively small state park and is often overlooked since it’s so close to Zion, but there’s a good selection of hiking trails here and the scenery is lovely.
Another beautiful park Linda. Springdale was where we stayed our first night at Zion. Did you eat at the Bit & Spur? Our hotel breakfast was also at that restaurant. Thanks for sharing. Allan
One of the downsides to visiting during the low-season was that many of the restaurants and shops were closed for the season or only open on weekends. We looked up a few places in Springdale, I don’t think the Bit & Spur was one of them, but there weren’t many vegetarian options. We instead went to the grocery store and made most of our meals. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda
Amazing photos. I would like one day to visit this park.
Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. The desert scenery in Utah is simply stunning. Hopefully you’re able to experience it for yourself someday. Cheers. Linda
Wonderful variety of mountains and beautiful nature photography 🙏🌹👍🏻 so nice explanation ✍️ also to read 😍👏
Thank you so much for sharing dear friend 🙏😊grace wishes
Thanks for your lovely comment. The mountains are very impressive and I love how they are so colourful. We had a fun time exploring some of the trails and just soaking in the views. Take care. Linda
Beautiful photos of the rock formations and sand dunes Linda.
Thanks! The petrified sand dunes were so fascinating, especially with all the ripples in the rocks. Plus they provided great views of the surrounding area.
Gorgeous scenery. Reminds me somewhat of the Badlands of Alberta.
Now that you mention it, the landscape in Snow Canyon does look a lot like the Badlands in Drumheller, especially the colouring of the rocks. It’s very otherworldly.
Beautiful pictures of that dynamic landscape 🙂 This series from Utah is making me homesick in the best way!
Thanks! Our visit to Snow Canyon was rather spontaneous. I’m glad we went as the scenery was gorgeous. It was also noticeably less busy than Zion, which was a nice change of pace.
The three trails are actually quite different from each other even though it sounds like they’re quite close. Do you know how it got its name as Snow Canyon?
For such a small park, Snow Canyon sure has a diverse landscape. It was initially named Dixie State Park, but was later renamed to Snow Canyon in honour of Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, early Mormon pioneers.
Ohhh a person not the white stuff 😊
A very beautiful place, it is similar to here in the Mojave Desert with it’s red rocks and rocky landscape. ❤️
The red rocks and desert scenery is gorgeous. I can see why you love it in Las Vegas. Snow Canyon isn’t too far and is definitely worth checking out.
Thanks! I do love this desert. ❤️
If it weren’t for Texas, I would want to live in Utah. I never, ever tire of seeing red rocks. Snow Canyon is a state park that I had not heard of, but it is just gorgeous. Your photos and words show it off beautifully.
Thanks for your kind words. I know what you mean, the views of the red rocks, towering sandstone cliffs and desert scenery never get old. I don’t think I could handle the heat in the summer though! Snow Canyon wasn’t initially on our itinerary, but we had some extra time after hiking Angels Landing in Zion so we decided to check it out since it’s nearby. It’s a small park that sure packs a punch. There’s a nice range of hiking trails and the landscape is lovely.
Woahhhh you made it to Utah!! This is awesome!!
I know! This trip was a long time in the making as we initially wanted to visit southern Utah a couple of years ago, but had to postpone due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. Despite visiting in the middle of winter, we had pretty decent weather and the conditions on the trails weren’t too bad. Plus it wasn’t busy.
Lovely post about Snow Canyon Park. The petrified sand dunes are absolutely amazing, as is the slot canyon. The contrast between the red and white stones adds even more variety to this geologically dynamic region.
Thanks! Even though Snow Canyon is a relatively small state park, the landscape is so colourful and diverse. There’s a nice variety of hiking trails to soak in the scenery. It’s a shame we were only here for a couple of hours as you could easily spend the full day here.
It looks like you made the best out of the time you had there, the photographs are stunning. The Petrified Dunes area looks very interesting. Must go there someday! Thanks for sharing your experience from the visit.
One of the downsides to visiting southern Utah in the January was that the days are shorter. We could have easily spent more time at Snow Canyon, but the sun was starting to set. I’m glad we got to explore a few of the trails in the time that we had though. It’s definitely worth adding to the list. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Linda
That is really neat that you can see the impact of the historical volcano while hiking here. Your landscape photos are beautiful!
Oh I know. It’s crazy how even though a volcano erupted here thousands of years ago, it’s made such a lasting impact on the landscape. There are even lava tubes that you can explore in the park, but we were short on time (and energy).
Gorgeous! I think these are the type of sand dunes a lot of tourists expect when they visit the Indiana Dunes and are often disappointed. 😉
People are crazy. I’m sure the sand dunes in Indiana Dunes are beautiful. Thankfully I’m not like a lot of tourists and am pretty easy to please when it comes to the scenery. As long as I’m outdoors (and the weather is nice), I’m happy!
Couldn’t agree with you more with everything you said, from the craziness of people to loving the outdoors. It all keeps life interesting. 😀
That is such a spare, beautiful area. I did a lot of exploring in Utah when I lived in the U.S. (in Arizona). You always do such a great presentation, Linda. Cheers.
Aw thanks. I am such a fan of the red rock landscape in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Plus it was so nice to enjoy the sun. Snow Canyon is a relatively small park, but a scenic spot to spend the rest of our afternoon.
I love the area around St. George. Thanks for taking me to these new locations!
Zion was starting to get too busy for our liking after we completed Angels Landing, so we decided to head somewhere else. I’m glad we stumbled upon Snow Canyon as it’s nearby and wasn’t very crowded. Plus the landscape was beautiful. It’s another one to add to the list for next time you’re in the area.
There are plenty of wonderful sights there. Have to spend more time there though because of the vast area. How was the weather?
The weather was pretty great for the most part. It was mostly sunny, although we did encounter some snow (at Bryce Canyon) and rain (when we returned to Las Vegas). It was a little chilly temperature-wise (just above freezing), but was very comfortable for hiking. It got really cold at night though and I’m glad that we weren’t camping.
These are beautiful photos Linda. Looks like such a gorgeous outing you enjoyed.
I was struck by the tidbit that the stones used to be sand dunes millions of years ago and crystallized into stones. Just makes you feel in awe of what came before us and makes you wonder what lies ahead. Very humbling how small we humans are in the grand scheme of this planet’s history.
Also interesting how quickly the temperature changes in these desert areas once the sun sets!
Thanks! Our visit to Snow Canyon was a last-minute decision. We had hiked all the easy and moderate trails on our list at Zion the day before and after completing Angels Landing, we weren’t up for another challenge. After doing a quick search to see what was nearby, Snow Canyon had some rave reviews, so we gave it a whirl. It was neat to learn more about the geology of the landscape and how all these colourful rock formations were formed. And you’re right, it definitely puts the human life into perspective.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend. It’s starting to look and feel like spring!
It seems like a wonderful last minute decision. 🙂 The weekend just flew by and looking forward to the long weekend ahead. 🙂 The days are feeling longer and longer. Enjoy your week ahead too!
I love to plan, so it was a great reminder that spontaneity once in awhile can be a great thing. Hope you’re taking advantage of this warmer weather. I can’t believe it’s supposed to go up to double digits tomorrow!
I’m wearing a thin jacket today and it’s wonderful. Sunlight too during my walk to the bus stop. 34 days till Spring. 🙂
It was nice to get a sneak peak of Spring and enjoy a few days of sunshine. Let’s hope this weather stays for the rest of winter.
Absolutely stunning photos. Looks like an amazing place to visit.
Thanks for your kind words and for leaving a comment. The red rock landscape in southern Utah is stunning. We had a wonderful time spending our afternoon in Snow Canyon soaking in the sights and the sun.
Thanks! For such a small park, the landscape in Snow Canyon is quite diverse. We could have easily spent more time here exploring the trails.
I really love the petrified ripples on the rock, and for some reason, the whole landscape reminds me of Wadi Rum in Jordan, although the latter was a lot drier and with less vegetation. I am curious though why it was named Snow Canyon.
The ripple patterns in the red rocks were pretty neat. I loved how they swirled in so many different directions. I just looked up some pictures of Wadi Rum and I can definitely see the resemblance in the desert landscape with Snow Canyon. Snow Canyon was named after early pioneers, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.
Wow, what a unique landscape. I really love the colour and shapes of the rocks, it looks like an incredible place to hike 🙂
The desert landscape in southern Utah looks very otherworldly. It was surprisingly more colourful and lush than I was expecting. We could have easily spent the entire day at Snow Canyon, but were up against the clock (or rather the amount of daylight).
These red rock formations caught my attention. Beautiful images. Anita
Thanks! The scenery in the desert is breathtaking, especially with all those red rocks. I’m glad we visited in the middle of winter though as I don’t think I could handle the heat!
So lovely all those rock formations, it is amazing how skillful is the Mother Nature🙂
For sure, nature really is the best artist. I was pleasantly surprised at how colourful the desert landscape is in southern Utah. There was also way more vegetation than I was expecting.
Looks like you stepped into a set for a Western movie!
Right!? The only thing missing was the cowboy hats!
It is interesting to know how the petrified sand dunes were formed, it gives a landscape quite different from what we are used to seeing.
For sure. It was fascinating to learn more about the geology and landscape of the area. It definitely puts the human life into perspective.
Another stunningly beautiful park. The colours and shapes of the rock formations are spectacular.
The scenery at Snow Canyon was a feast for the eyes. I’m glad we still had some energy and time to explore a few of the trails before the sun set.
Some of the landscape reminds me of Joshua Tree National Park. The rock colours and the canyons. Sometimes the trails can be hard to figure out in the rock sections so good on you for finding your way. Glad you hit another park but respected what your legs were saying!
We definitely had some struggles with navigating in the desert. Sometimes it’s hard to spot the cairns. And following the footprints in the sand didn’t always work out for us. We actually had to adjust some of our hikes as we didn’t quite trust our navigational skills. Thankfully all the trails at Snow Canyon are pretty short so there isn’t much risk of getting lost.
We did one long one in Joshua Tree, and there were a couple of places that were iffy. And you look around and think, frik, I can’t get lost here. No one would know for eons.
Oh I know. And it’s not like you can rely on cell reception either.
Utah is replete with several impressive state parks and the Snow Canyon is one of them. Do you have any idea why it is named so despite of no snow?
For sure, which is great for taking a road trip to try to visit them all! Snow Canyon was actually named after early pioneers, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.
This landscapes is quite similar to the landscape of Upper Mustang in Nepal
I guess this means we’ll have to add Upper Mustang to our travel bucket list! The views of the mountains never get old.
This is great to know about since we will be staying in Springdale for a few nights in May. These pictures are fantastic!
I highly recommend taking a day-trip to visit Snow Canyon then since it’s pretty close to Springdale and it’s significantly less busy than Zion. There’s a nice range of hiking trails to choose from and the scenery is spectacular.
That’s great to know – I’m a little intimidated by the Zion website. We’ll see when we get there – meeting my extended family for a wedding so I’m sure there will be plenty of suggestions.
For sure. There are a lot of great options to choose from and you really can’t go wrong. I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time!
The first few sentences crack me up !!! Snow canyon state park. It seldom snows here . Haha 😂 They really chose a funny name then. I love situations like these. That opening photo is amazing. It always blows my mind how colorful shades of things truly are. They’re never a solid shade. They’re many in one. It’s awesome . You got a lot of hikes going for this visit. Beautiful shots of the dunes. It’s crazy to think about lava there. All the formations the eruptions left behind are beautiful though. Great angles. 🙂
Oh I know! I thought maybe it was then named Snow Canyon after the white mountains near the northern entrance of the park, but it turns out it gets its name from some of the early pioneers in the area. The desert landscape in this state park is stunning, especially with all the colourful rocks and mountains. It was so neat seeing some signs from when a volcano erupted here so long ago. Goes to show how resilient nature is, but that it can take a long time to heal sometimes.