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Southern Utah is home to unlimited epic adventures and many travelers barely even scratch the surface of this outdoor playground. You have likely heard of Zion -- and this national park is definitely worth a visit -- but there's plenty of state parks and hidden gems you won't want to miss either. Using St. George as your base, these areas are all easily accessible for any level of adventure seeker.
How Snow Canyon State Park isn't characterized as a national park boggles my mind because it's vast beauty will blow you away. The Petrified Dunes Trail (pictured above) leads visitors through massive sandstone outcrops with breathtaking views of the Canyon.
The sand dunes are one of the first trails you'll encounter toward the entrance of Snow Canyon State Park. This easy 1/2-mile hike leads up to a large expanse of fine red sand. This area of the park is perfect for families and children of all ages.
Camping at Snow Canyon State Park is a must for outdoor lovers. Forget the crowds at the national parks and set up shop at one of the 27 spots tucked in between red Navajo sandstone and black lava rock. This small campsite features electrical hook-ups, restrooms, and drinking water.
If sleeping under the stars isn't your style, there's plenty of lodging options in and around St. George. Wellness retreats are popular here, so it's a great place to reset your body and mind with healthy eats, spa treatments, and reconnecting with nature. The Red Mountain Resort is within walking distance of Snow Canyon State Park, so you can easily catch a glimpse of the sunset before a quick 3-minute drive back to the resort.
With more than 18 miles of hiking trails, there's something for everyone at Snow Canyon State Park. Besides the stunning views, it's easy to find solitude. It's not uncommon to be the only one on any given trail.
It's also easy to explore one of Utah's Mighty 5, Zion National Park, with St. George as your base. To avoid the crowds and secure a parking spot inside the park, I recommend arriving before 9 a.m. Camping is also available at one of three campgrounds.
From November to March, you can drive through the 6-mile scenic loop in Zion, but during high season, April to October, they offer a free shuttle bus with guided commentary. In order to really see the beauty of this park, you'll want to get out and do a few of the hikes, which are easily accessible inside the park.
The Kolob Canyons section of Zion is located about 40 minutes north of Zion National Park. Very few travelers know about this section of the area, which makes it perfect for those looking for a quieter experience. The entire 5-mile scenic drive is picturesque, but be sure to go all the way to the top for the best view of the canyons.
The Taylor Creek Trail is an easy 5-mile round-trip hike that takes you deep into a narrow box canyon toward the Double Arch Alcove. About a mile into the hike, you'll come across the Larson Cabin, a historic homestead cabin built in the early 1930s. If you are up for a longer jaunt, take the La Verkin Creek Trail, which leads to a viewpoint of Kolob Arch -- the second longest natural arch in the world!