An Off-Season Outside Journey: Visiting Utah’s Snow Canyon State Park in Winter

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Whether or not you are asking journey consultants for recommendations on how to save cash in your subsequent trip, or inquiring about how we may help fight points like overtourism around the globe, there’s one golden tip that’s the reply to a number of queries: journey within the low season.

The low season or “shoulder season” in a vacation spot is all the time going to be a greater time to journey. It’d imply that the climate might be chilly or moist or possibly even actually scorching – however you may be nearly assured to seek out decrease costs and, most significantly, much less crowds.

Whiterocks Amphitheater at Snow Canyon State Park

And together with touring within the low season, we will additionally assist alleviate the stress that widespread locations really feel by broadening our focus. As an alternative of simply specializing in the one huge widespread place that will get plastered throughout Instagram, contemplate visiting lesser-known sights close by as nicely.

For example, let’s take a look at Zion Nationwide Park in Utah. It is probably the most widespread nationwide parks in america – in 2017, it was the third-most-visited nationwide park within the nation, with greater than four.5 million guests.

Positive, Zion is fairly superb whether or not you are a hiker or only a panorama addict. However the reality is that there are many different locations in southern Utah which can be JUST as lovely as Zion – they only do not get as many guests or present up in as many Instagram hashtags.

Visiting Utah’s Snow Canyon State Park in winter

On my December journey to St. George, Utah, final 12 months, I did my finest to hunt out among the finest out of doors spots that *weren’t* Zion. And my favourite spot by far was Snow Canyon State Park.

Snow Canyon State Park
The primary street by way of Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park covers 7,400 acres in southwestern Utah, throughout the Pink Cliffs Desert Reserve and a couple of 20-minute drive from downtown St. George. It is pretty widespread so far as state parks go, however this is not stunning contemplating the unimaginable landscapes you may discover there.

Snow Canyon State Park is thought for its petrified sand dunes, sandstone cliffs, and historic lava flows. Add to this desert vegetation and miles of climbing trails, and also you principally have an out of doors journey paradise.

A typical chorus you may hear about this park is that, in another state, Snow Canyon can be a nationwide park. It is simply that beautiful.

Petrified Dunes at Snow Canyon State Park

I devoted about half a day to exploring Snow Canyon. Usually, this would not be sufficient time to completely discover a park, however because of some brief hikes and the truth that I kind of had the park to myself, I packed lots into simply sooner or later.

Right here had been my Snow Canyon State Park highlights:

Jenny’s Canyon

Jenny's Canyon in Snow Canyon State Park

One of many first climbing trails you may come across after coming into Snow Canyon State Park is the path to Jenny’s Canyon. The “hike” to this little slot canyon is extremely simple – only a quarter-mile every manner on a flat, sandy path. And the canyon itself is de facto spectacular, even if you happen to’ve seen slot canyons earlier than. 

There have been two different folks within the canyon once I arrived, however after they left I had the place to myself to observe my tripod selfies. Main bonus to visiting a spot like this throughout the low season!

Jenny's Canyon at Snow Canyon State Park
Jenny’s Canyon all to myself

Observe: Jenny’s Canyon is closed annually from March 15-June 1, so as to defend nesting falcons.

Whiterocks Amphitheater

Whiterocks Amphitheater at Snow Canyon State Park

From Jenny’s Canyon, I headed to the opposite finish of the park so as to search out the Whiterocks Amphitheater. The quickest approach to entry this spot is to really drive OUT of the park and make a left on Freeway 18, the place there is a parking zone and path head.

Mine was one in all simply two automobiles within the parking zone right here, and I solely noticed one different couple on the complete path!

Talking of the path, it was principally flat and sandy for the primary bit, after which required a little bit of scrambling over the white Navajo sandstone/slickrock that provides this a part of the park its title. I finally made it to the “Amphitheater” after lower than a mile, and had the entire thing to myself for an hour.

Significantly, guys – journey within the low season!

Snow Canyon State Park
An empty path to the Whiterocks Amphitheater
Whiterocks Amphitheater at Snow Canyon State Park
I used to be the ONLY ONE there

I might have continued on to the complete Whiterocks Path after which the Lava Circulation Path (lots of the trails in Snow Canyon State Park intersect sooner or later), however I knew I needed to be in a sure spot for sundown. 

Petrified Dunes

Petrified Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park

The final path I tackled in Snow Canyon State Park was the Petrified Dunes path, which winds its manner round and over the petrified sand dunes within the park. It is a superb place to be round sundown, because the dipping solar makes the hardened dunes look like glowing.

You will get to the Petrified Dunes path a pair alternative ways. It formally begins at a parking space alongside the park’s scenic drive that is shared with the Butterfly Path trailhead, however will also be reached from the Higher Galoot Picnic space, or from the Three Ponds Path.

Parking wasn’t a problem on a weekday in December, so I began on the Butterfly Path trailhead.

Strolling over petrified dunes is fairly cool. It is loopy to think about that these had been as soon as flowing sand dunes.

Petrified Dunes at Snow Canyon State Park

The 1-mile path right here is technically marked, however the markers are few and much between. I feel half the enjoyable is climbing round on the previous dunes and making your personal path anyway.

I stayed on this a part of the park till simply earlier than sundown, and made my manner again to my automobile earlier than it obtained darkish.

Petrified Dunes at Snow Canyon State Park

When you have extra time

Like I stated, a lot of the climbing trails in Snow Canyon State Park are related, so you would simply hike from the White Rocks Amphitheater previous the lava flows, onto the Butterfly Path, and ultimately into the Petrified Dunes. 

One separate path that I did not have time for was the Johnson Canyon path, a 2-mile spherical journey that takes you to a canyon that ends at a purple rock arch. This path is just open from early November to mid-March; the remainder of the 12 months it is closed because of nesting birds. I am unhappy I missed out on this one, however I will simply have to reserve it for subsequent time!

Take a look at all of Snow Canyon’s climbing trails right here, or study extra about out of doors adventures in southern Utah.

Snow Canyon State Park

Sensible information for visiting Snow Canyon

I’ve already talked about a number of instances that Snow Canyon State Park is a good place to go to within the low season. Not solely is the park much less crowded, nevertheless it’s additionally way more snug temperature-wise. This a part of Utah will get HOT throughout the summer season months; within the winter, although, you’ll be able to comfortably hike in lengthy pants and a jacket. (Observe although that the park DOES get busy on vacation weekends throughout the winter, particularly over the President’s Day faculty vacation!)

get there: You will want a automobile to get to Snow Canyon State Park and discover by yourself. It is a couple of 20-minute drive from St. George.

Park entry: Day passes price $6 per car; you pay at a ranger station upon coming into the park. Seize a park/path map right here, too!

When to go: The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. For those who’re visiting throughout the quiet low season, any time of day is an efficient time to go. For those who’re visiting over a busy weekend or within the excessive season, going earlier than 11 a.m. or after four p.m. will enable you keep away from crowds.

What to carry: Even if you happen to’re visiting within the winter, you may need to ensure that to carry solar safety (sunscreen and a hat are all the time a good suggestion!), and loads of water and snacks. There are picnic and restroom services within the park, however not likely wherever to get recent water – so be sure to carry loads for your self! (Put money into a backpack that may carry a water pouch for this type of climbing – I just like the Osprey Raptor 14 Hydration Pack.)

The place to remain: There is a campsite in Snow Canyon State Park, in addition to lodging choices in close by Ivins and St. George. For those who’re in search of luxurious in Ivins, the Pink Mountain Resort or The Inn at Entrada is the place you need to be.

READ NEXT: St. George, Utah: Extra Than Only a Gateway to Zion

Have you ever ever found a spot that was higher within the low season?


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Visiting Snow Canyon State Park in winter


Observe: This submit was dropped at you in partnership with Go to St. George and Journey Mindset. However, as all the time, all suggestions, opinions, and images are my very own!