In a state with the “Greatest Snow on Earth” it's ironic that snow rarely falls in Utah's Snow Canyon State Park. Named after Mormon pioneers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, this state park is located in Utah's warm southwest corner. It is a great place to find sunshine during the dark days of winter.
Snow Canyon State Park is convenient. It is located just outside of St. George, one of Utah's fastest-growing cities. The park's one road is just four miles long, so it's easy to sample the park's activities, as we did, in an afternoon.
Here are five ways to play at Snow Canyon State Park.
There is no food service inside the Snow Canyon State Park, but the contrasting red, white and black hills and the bright blue sky are a scenic backdrop for a family picnic. We we saw a number of multi-generational families who were set up for a fun day with camp chairs and picnics.
Play in the sand
The best part of our visit to Snow Canyon State Park was the giant natural sand box, not far from the gate. The clean, fine sand in these dunes is bright orange and perfect for bare feet. My kids kicked off their shoes as soon as they left the parking lot. We did not bring shovels and pails on this trip, but we still spent at least an hour digging in the sand and were sad to leave. This is one of the most popular areas for families in Snow Canyon, but there was plenty of space for everyone.
Snow Canyon State Park has sixteen miles of hiking trails, many of them family friendly. We took a short, scenic trail to see where early settlers signed their names on the rock. If you do it today it's ugly graffiti, but if you did it 100 years ago it's a historic artifact.
Hikers will find arches and lava caves on Snow Canyon's other trails. Some trails are only open during the winter, making Snow Canyon a great off-season destination.
Snow Canyon's single paved road on moderate terrain and mild winter temperatures make it a good destination for families on bikes. Bike in from the city nearby or use the parking lot just outside the Snow Canyon State Park fee station.
Don't forget to bring your camera to Snow Canyon State Park. Whether you are a serious photographer with the talent to turn nature into art, or a casual one (like me) who just wants to document a fun family day, Snow Canyon can deliver. If you spend enough time in the park, away from the crowds, you're sure to spot wildlife. Endangered desert tortoises and gila monsters make their home here, among many other desert species.
We visited Snow Canyon State Park during Spring Break, when St. George is at full capacity, but the crowds at Snow Canyon weren't bad. I'm sure we weren't the only out-of-town visitors, but I got the feeling that Snow Canyon is where the locals hang out, leaving nearby Zion National Park to the tourists. Now that we're in on this St. George secret, we'll be sure to return.
How else can I help?
Need a place to stay? I generally stay at the Hilton Garden Inn or Comfort Inn near the convention center, but there are many great hotels and vacation rentals in St. George to choose from. I really enjoyed the family-sized condos at Coral Springs Resort, which is nearer to Zion National Park. Check rates and reviews at TripAdvisor or HomeAway.com.
Need a rental car? You will need your own car or a rental to get around St. George. Public transportation is limited. Find the best rates from dozens of agencies at RentalCars.com.