Content Produced in Partnership with Visit St. George
You’ve seen pictures of southwest Utah floating around the Internet. Intricately formed geological wonders that beckon hikers, climbers, bikers, and explorers with the promise of adrenaline spikes and stunning photos. Make St. George your base for exploring this corner of the state. A city full of lodging options, delicious restaurants and plentiful recreation, adventure is always just around the bend in St. George.
Overlook in Snow Canyon State Park
While most people head straight to Zion National Park, there are actually quite a few state parks around St. George that are worth checking out. One of our favorites was Snow Canyon State Park. This spectacular valley is filled with red and white sandstone, ancient lava fields, and coral-colored sand dunes. It is often referred to as "mini-Zion," but with over 38-miles of hiking trails, there's really nothing small about it.
Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park
Zion National Park may have a lot of things, but it doesn’t have sand dunes! We took a walk out to the shifting sands, near the south entrance to Snow Canyon, during golden hour. While the air was still warm, the sand felt cool and welcoming against our feet.
Petroglyphs in Snow Canyon State Park
This is probably as close to feeling like Indiana Jones either one of us is going to get. Hiking along the Gila Trail in Snow Canyon, we snaked through a maze of sandstone boulders before arriving at this narrow slot canyon. The end of the path has walls covered in ancient symbols and petroglyphs that were quite fun to try to decode.
The Bowl at BLM Land
You don't have to be in a designated park to find someplace beautiful; Utah is full of surprises and hidden gems. Early in the morning, we went on a hike to the BLM land just north of Snow Canyon. Trekking up red sandstone slopes and terraces, we arrived at The Bowl, a giant natural depression that made for stunning photos. This hike is a perfect example of one of the many off-the-beaten track options just waiting to be discovered in Southern Utah.
Cliff Jumping in Sand Hollow State Park
Southern Utah can get hot during the summer, but you can beat the heat at Sand Hollow State Park. This warm water reservoir offers a variety of water sports from paddle boarding, kayaking, and wake boarding to scuba diving (with a sunken airplane and bus for divers to explore). Our favorite activity was getting the adrenaline rush of cliff jumping.
Hiking to Hidden Canyon in Zion National Park
This steep and strenuous hike climbs over 1,000 feet to a “hanging” slot canyon above Zion’s main floor. In some sections, the trail veers so close to the edge that the park had to install chains to keep people from slipping off. This is definitely an exhilarating hike, but since it’s not as well-known as Angel’s Landing, you won’t have to worry about jockeying for space.
Canyoneering with Zion Adventure Co.
If you don’t think rappelling off the side of a cliff is for you, you’re in good company. We didn’t either! But we had an absolute blast exploring the slot canyons with Zion Adventure Co. Our guides, Chad & Brian, showed us the ropes (literally), outfitted us with gear, and gave us the confidence we never thought we’d have dangling off the ledge. We can’t wait to get back out there again!
The Huntress in Kanab, Utah
While rappelling can be exhilarating on its own, what’s really exceptional about canyoneering is the type of natural beautiful you are able to access. Zion Adventure Co. took us deep inside this secluded sandstone slot canyon called The Huntress. Were it not for our roped descent, we could have never experienced these incredible surroundings.
Hike to Observation Point, Zion National Park
One of the most stunning places to view the entirety of Zion’s main valley is from Observation Point. This vantage overlook can be accessed by hiking 2,000 feet up or from the much shorter and flatter East Mesa Trail. We opted for the second option, waking up at 3 a.m. to beat the crowds and reach the spot by sunrise. We’d say it was worth it, wouldn't you?