The Pioneer Names Trail in Snow Canyon State Park is a short and fun little hike from the main road. It is a crescent shaped trail that passes by, among other things, a canyon wall that was written on by early St George settlers as early as 1881. The names were written in wagon axle grease and has remained protected by the arch that it sits under. Early Mormon Pioneers would often picnic in the canyon, and these writings were likely left by members of picnic parties and/or cattle ranchers. Hikers on this trail can now enjoy the beauty of the unique rock formations and the surrounding vegetation, or clip into the climbing hooks and scale the canyon walls. There are two trail heads for this trail. The north trail head is much closer to the Pioneer Names, but it is a short hike from either trail head, and easily passable by people of all ages. The trail is sandy in some places, so proper footwear is advised. Enjoy this beautiful hike and soak in some history too!
The Sandstone Quarry Trail is a fun, short, family friendly trail that passes along next to the Red Hill Golf Coarse in downtown St George. This trail is suitable for small children (with help in a couple of places), and leads to a cool little historic site where a monument has been erected by the Sons of the Utah Pioneers. The Sandstone Quarry was where they quarried rock for many of the historic buildings in town, including the St George LDS Temple and Tabernacle, the Historic Courthouse (Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum), the Washington Cotton Mill and many other buildings and homes. This hike provides beautiful desert views along side luscious golf course greenery.
Yant Flat is one of Southern Utah’s little gems that it seems you have to be from out of town to know anything about! This hiking trail takes you across a quick mile of lower forest at the base of Pine Valley Mountain, and then spits you out onto some of the most incredibly colored sandstone formations that exist on this earth! There are two main areas of exploration and you can easily spend a couple of days hiking across the candy like swirls.
This is a great, short hiking trail for families of all ages! The first part of the trail is a little bit sandy, but doesn’t last too long. It changes to a solid trail that leads right down to the dinosaur tracks. As you bottom out on the trail you will see a slate rock surface in part of the stream bed to the left of the trail. In the hardened sedimentary rock you can find 17 well preserved dino tracks presumed to be from Grallator, Kayentapus, and Eubrontes dinosaurs, which paleontologists suggest were bipedal, meat-eating theropods during the Jurassic Period. Access to the trail head is over a dirt road that is passable by most vehicles.
Map to Trailhead. From St George, head north on I-15 for approximately 2 miles and take exit 10 to Washington City. Turn left onto Green Springs Drive and take an immediate right onto Buena Vista Boulevard and continue for about 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Main Street and follow for .5 miles. Turn right at the “Y” in the road and follow it for approximately .25 miles. Turn left at the “Y” and head up the hill toward the water tank. Continue past the water tank until you see the trailhead for Dino Cliffs Trail on the right. Park on the left and get on the trail!
Why hike this trail?
The Elephant Arch trail is a stone’s throw from Washington city, but you wouldn’t ever know it was there. Access to the trail is a little tricky, and I definitely recommend doing this in a truck or SUV, but once you get there it is an easy trail. The first half of the trail is easy walking along a dirt road, and the you meet a wash that is pretty sandy. The rest of the hike is fairly sandy. Because of the sand, this trail is not super family friendly, but if you can pack the kids, or if they can walk the distance it’s not too bad. Typical low land desert landscape, lots of red rocks, and a cool arch at the end that does strangely look like an elephant’s trunk! Worth every sandy step!
Map to Trailhead. From St George, head north on I-15 for about 9 miles and take exit 10 to Washington. Turn left onto Green Springs Drive and take an immediate right onto Buena Vista Blvd. Follow Buena Vista for about 1 mile and turn left onto the dirt road immediately after the fire station. Follow this dirt road for about 1.2 miles and it will meet up with another dirt road that is heading north-south. Turn left onto this dirt road and follow it for about 0.6 miles and your will come to the gate and trailhead.
Like I said above, the access is kind of tricky. As Washington builds more neighborhoods this description may change, but until then you should be able to get there via these instructions.
I love the red desert or Southern Utah. I have recently been learning about the early pioneers that settled the area, and for them I don’t think the area was as much beautiful as it was harsh and barren. There was nothing easy about the lives they led. It was said among them that eventually this desert would blossom like a rose, and I believe it has. Now, ease and comfort are the main part of our lives, and the desert has become a beautiful thing to us, or at least it has to me! If only those early pioneers could see us now… If I could take them for a hike, this is one I would take them on, and let them just take in the beauty of this harsh area.
We left before sun up in order to keep from hiking in the heat of the desert sun. I could not find a map to the trailhead so I improvised, having learned beforehand the place where I would park. I tried several routes, and was thwarted as new developments have caused dirt road closures. I was finally able to access the correct road and when we parked at the trailhead the sun was making its way up. The first part of the trail passes over a closed off dirt road. We plodded along, enjoying the views of the wild Navajo sandstone hills ahead of us at the base of the towering Pine Valley Mountain. After a quarter mile we branched off to the right and followed an adjoining road that was marked ‘Bone Wash’. This road takes you past a small power substation and into Bone Wash.
Rains from a couple days previous had brought some water down the wash and we could see remnants of a small water flow that was quickly drying up. This part of the trail was very sandy, but despite our filling shoes, we carried on in anticipation of the arch. As we plodded along we passed through corridors of sandstone that were weathered and worn. I could tell that they had seen years of rain, wind, and likely flash floods that come barreling through once every few years. There were little sandstone pockets containing what was left of the last late summer shower.
We left the wash as it met with a small tributary on the right. The trail marker for ‘Elephant Arch’ spurred us on, although my explorative mind wanted to continue the journey up the wash when I looked and saw a small slot up a hundred yards. I told myself I’ll have to explore the rest of Bone Wash another day – today I’m going to the arch! As we climbed up the hill out of the wash the trail beneath our feet solidified a little, which was a nice change from the sandy wash bottoms. We could feel that we were getting close as we continued our quick pace along the trail. We wound along and followed the trail up as it curved up toward some rock outcroppings. Up ahead in the distance we strained to see what looked like it might be our destination. As we scrambled closer we could see the shape more clearly. Having only seen a few pictures I had an idea of what I was looking for, and was not disappointed at all to see that the arch before me truly resembled an elephant’s head and trunk! It was big enough walk under the trunk, and I could see its eyes where chunks of rock have fallen out from years of erosion! What a spectacle! We climbed around and took a few pictures of each of us sitting on our desert elephant, riding it along. We had a little snack, and then we were headed back to civilization.
We pushed even harder on the way back as the sun began to crest the hills that had hidden it so nicely. The heat was on and we needed to hustle back! As the sun lit the hills surrounding us we enjoyed another view at the landscape that we had passed in the early morning light. The sage and creosote around us contrasted the red sand and the big blue mountain to the north of us. As we completed our journey I was grateful once again to live in such a beautiful place! This is a quick, easy, and little known about landmark that you should definitely check out!
Until next time…your next adventure is right out your door!
Babylon Arch trail is a very sandy, but very gratifying trail. It doesn’t take long on the trail to feel like you have landed on Mars with all the cool sandstone formations around you, and the arch is very unique compared to any I have seen before. This hike is NOT stroller friendly, but young kids can make the trek with help. The trail forks and will take you to the arch or to the Virgin River. It doesn’t take much longer to do both and the river is refreshing and fun to look at! This one is definitely worth the trip!
Map to Trailhead. From St George, head north on I-15 for about 13 miles and take exit 22 to Leeds/Silver Reef. Head north on Hwy 228/Main Street for 2 miles and take a right onto 900 North (there is a sign indicating Red Cliffs National Conservation Area). Follow 900 North for about 3 miles and turn left after the sign indicating Sand Cove Trailhead.
You can take the trail from two start points – Sand Cove Trailhead, or the Primitive Camping Area Trailhead. 4WD and high clearance are REQUIRED to get to the Primitive Camping Area. Even the road to the Sand Cove Trailhead is pretty sandy and 4WD or at least AWD is recommended. If you continue to the Primitive Camp Area, then go on passed the Sand Cove Trailhead for a few hundred feet and take a right. Follow this road until you can’t go anymore and you’ll be at the trailhead!
We headed out early on a Saturday morning to beat the mid summer Southern Utah heat and got to the trailhead just after the sun peaked over Zion National Park. The sun was just starting to light up Red Cliffs Recreational Area as we parked the truck and hit the trail. You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful start of the day! We drove to the Primitive Camping Area so cut off some distance on the hike, and to test out the 4WD on my truck! We had a good time getting there, and upon arrival, started on the trail.
From the beginning of the trail we were walking through patches of sand, and that was just a foreshadowing of the trail to come. (I must say, it is fun to go on an adventure where you know very little about the place you are going. I started this site/blog, as a means to give people the full picture of their adventure before they go, but there is a bit of excitement in just going and seeing if you can find what you’re looking for!) After rounding the first few rocks the trail before us opened up and we could see across the river to Sky Mountain, and the Navajo Sandstone rock formations were out of this world! I felt like I had landed on Mars and was treading in uncharted territory. It looked like someone had squeezed little piles of red sand all over the place and let them dry.
As we continued on our trek the sand got more loose and started filling our shoes. As we made our decent toward the river bottom we came to a little ridge that we had to drop down that was just a sand hill. What room we had left in our shoes was filled with sand and we made our way down. This point in the trail is important because there is a more prominent trail to the left, but we could see faint tracks going straight down to the right. We chose left, and we ended up at the river with no sign of an arch anywhere. I’m actually glad we went that way first because I had wanted to go down to the river. On our way back we noticed a fork in the trail and looked up, and about 100 yds away was Babylon Arch. We hadn’t seen it on our way down the trail because there was a large rock blocking our view.
We approached the arch with excitement because we had been afraid that we would miss the thing we had come to see. As we approached it was not hard to notice that this arch was unlike any I had ever seen. Babylon Arch is not a typical arch you see in the side of a mountain somewhere. It looks like someone took a hole saw and bored through a huge rock. It is a almost perfectly round hole, and it is very interesting.
The arch is about 8 ft tall and 10 ft wide. We were able to walk right through it as if the rock had been positioned perfectly so the trail could pass through the middle of it. After taking a few pictures of the arch and surrounding rock formations we continued up the trail and were reminded why we decided to take the trail to the left on the way down! We were looking at a sand hill with a 60 degree pitch that we had to climb up (we could have turned around and gone back up the way we had come down, but we wanted the challenge). We made our way up in a step-slide fashion. Eventually we triumphed over the hill and felt good about our accomplishment amid our huffing and puffing.
After emptying our shoes we got back on the trail. It wasn’t far to go now. I looked around me again at the strange rock plop formations and admired their strange uniqueness as our vehicle came into view. This trail was a fantastic reminder that there is so much adventure and beauty to be found, if only I am willing to get out and embark on the journey. Add Babylon Arch to your list! You won’t be disappointed in the trip!
Until next time…your next adventure is right out your door!
The Little Black Mountain Petroglyph site is located south of St. George on the Arizona Strip and features an easy hike around sandstone boulders covered in ancient petroglyphs. The hike is easy and short making it great for those who want to get out of the city without getting too dirty or being gone too long.
The Scout Cave trail just south of Snow Canyon State Park is a great mix of easy and moderate. It passes over lava flow fields, stream beds, and Navajo Sandstone rocks. Trail is open all year, but watch for flooding in rainy seasons. This trail is not stroller friendly, but is passable by young children (5 and up). Great morning or evening hike!
The White Rocks hike in Snow Canyon State Park is a great, family friendly, short hike that features some beautiful views, impressive petrified white sandstone mountains, and a great sand hill for kids of all ages to play in. This hike is not stroller friendly, but it is short enough that you should be able to get away with carrying a child.
This is one of the most popular hikes that no one in St George really knows about that I have found. In other words, I am surprised at how many people have heard about the petroglyphs, or even know where they are, but they are not clearly documented anywhere! To follow the purpose of this site, they will now be documented forever more. There are four main petroglyph sites (that I have been able to find) in this area. If you know of more, feel free to comment below, or send me a personal contact through the site. Two slot canyons you could almost trip over and not know what you missed, a wall of petroglyphs rightly called “Newspaper Rock”, and a rock cleverly named “Sinking Ship Rock”. An approximately 5 mile moderate hike through the red rocks and sand will bring you in a loop to see all these sites. You would never guess it is right off the road, and you could almost throw a rock and hit some of the houses in the neighborhood – they are so close. One of Snow Canyon State Park’s true treasures, and now it can be one of yours! (Updated 5/27/17)
The St George, UT Temple Quarry Trail is an out an back that trail that is suitable for most ages. The path is mostly flat with a few stairs at the beginning and a couple of areas along the trail where small lava rocks jut out from the trail. If you’re looking for a great trail with beautiful sites and you are short on time this is a great one to try!