Hey there! Welcome to my article on Snow Canyon State Park! My name is Jean Paul Zavala. I was born in Mexico City but grew up in Southern California, San Diego County to be exact. I lived there for the majority of my life. However, as time went on, I moved around a bit and made my way to Los Angeles and eventually to Las Vegas where I reside now.
My passion for photography came out in my teenage years. I always felt that it was embedded in my genes – starting from my grandfather and passed down to my dad. My father always carries his camera with him. It was just a matter of time until I saved enough to buy my first DSLR camera.
Traveling is part of my DNA as well. I’m a solo wanderer – constantly craving adventure, wanting to drive to new places, see amazing sights, and experience different cultures and cuisines. Living in Las Vegas has given me the opportunity to explore the Southwest and connect with nature. It has given purpose to my photography, all while seeing the natural beauty that surrounds me. You can follow my adventures on Instagram: @nvrbkn.
Exploring the Epic State of Utah
Being in Las Vegas, one way or another, someone always seems to mention the state of Utah and the amazing destinations on offer there. I was so intrigued by the state that I was forever opening Google Maps, Instagram, YouTube and blogs just to read everything that I could about Utah.
Utah is massive and I feel like I have only been able to experience just a fraction of what the state has to offer. So far I have visited Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dixie National Forest, Kanab and Snow Canyon State Park.
These places were all incredible to experience, including the random spots on the side of the road that you can find. While it does appear to be a long list of places, I really believe that I have only scratched the surface of what is out there. I have met lots of wonderful people along the way – from solo travelers doing the same thing as me, to backpackers and locals.
The experience of visiting all of these sights has been humbling for me. Walking up to the edge of a cliff, hiking up a hill to get the best view, walking through a slot canyon, traversing pink sand dunes, touching the earth, pulling up on the side of the road to watch the sunset as it paints the sky – everything in Utah has been an extraordinary adventure!
My Numerous Adventures at Snow Canyon State Park
I was oblivious to Snow Canyon at first. But I remember stumbling upon a photo on Instagram and the park looked amazing. No location was tagged, so I went digging on the Internet until I found the exact spot. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was close to my home in Las Vegas.
Snow Canyon State Park quickly made it on my list of places to see in Utah. I was so excited about this destination that I instantly packed my gear, some snacks and water, loaded up the car and headed out on a weekend adventure. My first trip there was awesome and so naturally I had to come back again and again. I have visited the park numerous times now.
Sometimes I go for a weekend and sometimes I spend the entire day there until nightfall. If I’m taking a day trip, I usually pack a few things, leave early and head out to try and be there by 7am (the drive from Las Vegas takes less than two hours). I try to take advantage of the entire day but if I’m spending a weekend there, I don’t rush as much as time isn’t a concern.
Why Snow Canyon State Park is Special
The only way I can describe Snow Canyon State Park is kind of a miniature version of Zion National Park. The park has plenty of trails, sand dunes, slot canyons, rock climbing, petroglyphs nearby, caves, viewpoints and scenic driving opportunities. A day there is always a day well spent. It offers something for both casual weekend explorers and experienced hikers.
Snow Canyon has beautiful places throughout. Out of all the places where you can venture, the little area of pink sand dunes is my personal favorite spot. Seeing pink sand dunes was such a treat to my eyes. I was so excited when I first saw them that I walked up to the dunes, took off my shoes, dug my feet into the sand and felt like I was a kid again. Then I spent a good hour on top of the dunes admiring the sunset. It was awesome!
Best Things To Do at Snow Canyon State Park
Everything in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah is great but of course there are a few highlights not to be missed. If you have never seen pink/coral colored sand then the sand dunes are a must-do experience. While they aren’t massive in size, they are still a must-visit destination in my opinion.
The petrified sand dunes are another highlight. You can explore the dunes, see the unique formations, hike to the peak, sit down and just enjoy the scenery. On the peaks of some of the petrified dunes, you will find little round balls of petrified sand. How they formed is still a mystery to me!
Seeing lava tube caves on the Lava Tube Trail is a unique and cool activity. Unfortunately, the caves aren’t very deep. Nonetheless, I still recommend checking them out. Just make sure to bring some kind of flashlight to see where you are stepping, as the rocks can be jagged and slippery. White Rocks Amphitheater is another essential trail. All levels of hikers can enjoy this activity as the hike is short but with plenty to explore along the way.
Where to Stay near Snow Canyon
Luckily there is plenty of lodging near the park. The city of St. George is right next door with options for lodging and food. I personally can’t recommend any campsites, as I have never camped before (if you can believe that). The park does have a designated area for camping, so it’s worth checking out if one is interested. I usually stay at Hyatt Place in St. George. It’s a nice, chic and clean hotel without the hefty price tag.
Other Points of Interest Near Snow Canyon State Park
There are plenty of amazing points of interest to visit near Snow Canyon. Next to the state park you will find two dormant volcanoes! The bigger one might be located on private property, but there is also another one which is a bit smaller and accessible to the public. The latter is worth checking out.
Just outside of the park you can find petroglyph slot canyons. Access to this trail is a bit confusing but just make sure to follow the signs around it. The hike is connected to the Gila Trail for those interested. Thousands of years ago natives scratched drawings on the rocks documenting their lives. Discovering the four different petroglyph spots on this trail is incredible!
Sand Hollow State Park is another nice park nearby. It features a lake and off-road vehicle recreation along with some good sights to see. Zion National Park is an hour away from Snow Canyon and well, it’s Zion – do I need to say more?! A bit further north is Bryce Canyon National Park too. Just another remarkable attraction of the great state of Utah.
A Favorite Memory from Visiting the State Park
I would like to finish this piece by sharing with you my favorite memory of Snow Canyon. I was visiting the park with my parents and goddaughter, and was treating them to a mini vacation. The weather was perfect – sunny with a slight breeze. While I was at the bottom of a dune, I looked up at the peak and saw my mother with her arms spread open, wind blowing through her hair, eyes closed with the most beautiful smile on her face.
She looked worry and stress free. It was amazing. That same afternoon, we were still on the dunes and my goddaughter had laid down in the sand making sand angels. Shortly after she proceeded to roll down one of the dunes. Instant laughter was followed by the biggest smile. No pictures exist of these events but we were just living in the moment. Everything was pure joy. Those moments make this state park even more special to me.
Need to Know Before you Go
Snow Canyon is a state park. If you have an annual pass for national parks, that won’t work here. Entrance to the park is $10. If no park attendant is at the entry gate, there are self pay envelopes. Be sure to carry cash. During summer, temperatures will be anywhere from the 80s-100s Fahrenheit.
Bringing enough water/food is key as there are no stores located in the park or right outside the park. In winter, you can expect to find snow and/or strong winds. Make sure to dress accordingly for the time of year you visit. If you plan on flying a drone, it’s actually not permitted in the park. If you exit the park and go to the scenic overlook outside the park next to UT-18, it’s allowed. Ensure you are following the rules when operating your drone.