Snow Canyon State Park

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Snow Canyon State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Snow Canyon Utah March 2019.jpg
Snow Canyon State Park
Map showing the location of Snow Canyon State Park
Map showing the location of Snow Canyon State Park
Location of Snow Canyon State Park in Utah
Map showing the location of Snow Canyon State Park
Map showing the location of Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park (the United States)
LocationWashington, Utah, United States
Coordinates37°12′11″N 113°38′29″W / 37.20306°N 113.64139°W / 37.20306; -113.64139Coordinates: 37°12′11″N 113°38′29″W / 37.20306°N 113.64139°W / 37.20306; -113.64139
Area7,400 acres (30 km2)[1]
Named forLorenzo and Erastus Snow
Visitors344,915 (in 2011)[2]
OperatorUtah State Parks

Snow Canyon State Park is a state park in Utah, located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.[1] The park features a canyon carved from the red and white Navajo sandstone of the Red Mountains, as well as the extinct Santa Clara Volcano, lava tubes, lava flows, and sand dunes. Snow Canyon is located near the cities of Ivins and St. George in Washington County.


Snow Canyon is named after early Mormon settlers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow. It was designated as a Utah State Park in 1958.[1]

Two canyons, West Canyon and Snow Canyon, begin side by side at the north end of the park, cutting into the sandstone of the Red Mountains. The canyons converge, meeting in the middle of the park. Snow Canyon continues south-by-southeastward as a single, larger canyon. The canyon ends near the park's southern entrance, its mouth opening out onto the Santa Clara bench near Ivins, Utah.

Red rock formations are a major feature of the canyon.

A paved two-lane road (formerly SR-300) enters the park from Ivins on the south, winds up the canyon, then climbs the eastern edge to the bench above Snow Canyon. There the road joins State Route 18. Ancient[vague] lava flows spill over the eastern edges of Snow Canyon from above, where the road climbs out of the canyon.

The park boundaries extend northeastward across State Route 18, to encompass two cinder cones along the western edge of Diamond Valley.

The highest point in the park, according to a U.S. Geological Survey topographical map, is a 5,024-foot (1,531 m) peak west of the southern cinder cone, above the eastern edge of the east fork of Snow Canyon.

Park Facilities[edit]

Snow Canyon State Park is used for activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, and is open year-round.[3] It contains 17 multi-use campsites and 14 sites for RVs.[4] The day-use fee is $10 for Utah residents.[5] Hikers and bikers may obtain annual passes for $30.[6] The Johnson Canyon trail, which leads to a large arch, may be accessed without payment of fees, but is closed to hikers most of the year for wildlife and habitat protection. The Johnson Canyon trail is usually open from October to March.[7]


Morning breaks over Snow Canyon State Park. Picture taken from an overlook just off of Utah State Route 18

Snow Canyon sits at the junction of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin, and Colorado Plateau.[1]

The climate is typical for a desert. Higher elevations tend to be dry and cooler. Lower elevations are also dry, but much warmer.

Summers are hot with low temperatures of around 80 °F (27 °C)[citation needed] and highs of over 105 °F (41 °C). Winters see lows around 20 °F (−7 °C) and highs around 60 °F (16 °C).


Ancestral Puebloans inhabited the region around Snow Canyon from AD 200 to 1250, utilizing the canyon for hunting and gathering. Southern Paiute used the canyon from AD 1200 to the mid-19th century. Mormon pioneers first came upon Snow Canyon in the 1850s while searching for lost cattle.

Originally called Dixie State Park, it was later renamed for Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, prominent pioneering Utah leaders.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

Many Hollywood films have been filmed in Snow Canyon. These include The Conqueror (1956) starring John Wayne, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Electric Horseman, Jeremiah Johnson, Run of the Arrow (1957), They Came to Cordura (1959), The Appaloosa (1966), Six Black Horses (1962), Bullet for a Badman (1964) and Gunpoint (1966).[8]

Flora and fauna[edit]

The vegetation of the area mainly consists of desert plants, such as creosote bush, scrub oak, narrowleaf yucca, and sand sage.[1]

Various types of desert shrubs are found in the park against the rock formations

Wildlife in Snow Canyon includes the Gila monster, peregrine falcon, and desert tortoise.[1] Small fences to keep the ground-dwelling creatures from accidentally wandering onto roads can be seen across Snow Canyon and the St. George area. Other notable wildlife include the giant desert hairy scorpion, coyote, Mojave sidewinder, red-spotted toad, Utah banded gecko, and the side-blotched lizard, among many others.


Whiptail Trail - 6 miles (9.7 km). Easy. Level with some slopes. Accessible to physically challenged. Tucked along the canyon bottom, this sinuous paved trail is suitable for hiking, jogging, biking and rollerblading.

Johnson Canyon - (Open November 15 to March 1 only) - 2 miles (3.2 km). Easy. Level with some rocky slopes and steps. Boasting the only riparian area in the park, this trail winds through lava flows and red rock to an arch spanning 200 feet (61 m).

Jenny's Canyon - (Closed March 31 to June 1) - 0.5 miles (0.80 km). Easy, level with few slopes and steps. Trail leads to a narrow, sculpted canyon then splits with rock stairsteps to offer a scenic overlook.

Sand Dunes - 0.5 miles (0.80 km). Easy. Deep sand with some slopes. Trail leads to a large expanse of red sand that is an excellent play area for children of all ages.

White Navajo Sandstone petrified sand dune.

West Canyon Road - 7 miles (11 km). Easy. Gravel and sand surface. Fairly level. Trail follows a maintenance road winding past washes and towering cliffs to the mouth of present-day Snow Canyon.

Pioneer Names - 0.5 miles (0.80 km). Easy. Fairly level with some steps and slopes. This crescent-shaped trail passes pioneer names written in axle grease, dating back to 1883.

Hidden Pinyon - 1.5 miles (2.4 km). Moderate. Rocky slopes. Drop-offs. This self-guided nature trail introduces geological features and native plants of the park.

Three Ponds - 3.5 miles (5.6 km). Moderate. Some rocky slopes. Deep sand. Trail winds through sandy washes to mouth of a 400-foot (120 m) canyon. Potholes eroded in sandstone catch seasonal rain, giving the trail its name.

Petrified Dunes Trail - 1-mile (1.6 km). Moderate. Some steep slopes, uneven surfaces. This trail crosses massive sandstone outcrops where you may explore sand dunes frozen in time.

Butterfly Trail - 2 miles (3.2 km). Moderate. Some steep slopes, steps and uneven surfaces. Winding along the west side of Petrified Dunes, this trail leads to West Canyon Overlook and lava tubes.

White Rocks Trail/Lava Flow Overlook - 4 miles (6.4 km). Moderate. Some rocky slopes, uneven surfaces. Passing through lava flows, juniper stands and views of West Canyon, trail leads to a natural amphitheater set in white sandstone. Or reach the amphitheater on a 1-mile (1.6 km) trail located one-half mile north of State Route 18 junction.

Panorama of Snow Canyon


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Snow Canyon State Park: About the Park". Utah State Parks. Archived from the original on 2011-03-16. Retrieved 2011-02-11.
  2. ^ "Utah State Park 2011 Visitation" (PDF). Utah State Parks Planning. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Snow Canyon State Park". Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation.
  4. ^ "Book a Campsite at Snow Canyon State Park, UT". Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation.
  5. ^ "Snow Canyon State Park:Park Fees". Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation.
  6. ^ "Snow Canyon State Park entrance fees to go up". St. George News.
  7. ^ "Johnson's Canyon Trail Guide" (PDF). Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  8. ^ Maddrey, Joseph (2016). The Quick, the Dead and the Revived: The Many Lives of the Western Film. McFarland. Page 178. ISBN 9781476625492.

External links[edit]