9 Incredible Hikes in Snow Canyon State Park [St George, Utah]

Looking for the best hikes in Snow Canyon State Park? Read on for my 9 favorites!

A woman in a black and grey shirt stands on the edge of a ledge looking over the descending snow canyon.

I won’t lie: I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but I was SO impressed with Snow Canyon State Park. I’m quite familiar with outdoor recreation areas in Utah, and I’ve done a lot of hiking around Utah and in the southwest. But I’d only very recently heard about Snow Canyon State Park.

This state park is located right on the outskirts of St. George, Utah, only miles from the Arizona state border, and has some of the best hiking trails near St. George.

Snow Canyon is known for its vibrant orange sandstone rocks, interesting rock formations, and soaring mountain ranges. There is a ton of variety to the hiking opportunities in Snow Canyon – you get lava trails and caves, cinder cones, slot canyons, caves, sand dunes, gorgeous lookout points, and more.

These hikes are extremely interesting for adults, and most of them are easy enough for kids.

Quick Tip: If you’re planning a Utah road trip, I recommend reserving a rental car ASAP for the best prices and availability. I always book my car with this rental car aggregate site to find the best deals.

9 Best Hikes in Snow Canyon State Park

There is one road that goes north-south in Snow Canyon State Park, and the southern edge of the park is practically right next to suburban developments. Once you’re inside the park though, the scenery makes it feel like you’re in the middle of the backcountry.

In this article, we’re going to work our way from south to north. Let’s get into the list of best hikes in Snow Canyon!

Note: All distances for hikes are given as round trip.

1. Scout Cave Trail

A woman stands at the edge with the cave walls closing around her looking out at the mountains and villages below

The Scout Cave Trail is a fun, easy trail with a lot of visual interest, that ends at a photogenic cave.

The beginning of the trail starts out walking through a lava field until you descend into the canyon and hike along the cliff face for about a mile. Most of the elevation gain comes right at the end, as you climb from the canyon floor up to the titular cave.

Because this trail is at the very southern end of Snow Canyon, for the last 1/3 of the hike you’re actually walking by buildings. It’s kind of funny because on the left side you look and it’s all nature and “wilderness”, but turn to the right side and you can see city right there. In fact the view out of Scott Cave does show you part of the city as well as nature areas. Still, the hike is calm and beautiful.

Scout Cave itself is a relatively small cave with a teardrop opening. There actually is another cave just adjacent to Scout Cave, but it is not very accessible. The climb up to get in is quite tall and sheer and isn’t that safe.

Overall, it’s an easy and pretty trail, with a lot of fun factor, especially with the photogenic cave at the end. Personally, I think Scout Cave is one of the best hikes in Snow Canyon State Park.

Trailhead Information: The official trailhead and parking lot is technically just barely outside the state park fee station. However, there are signs saying that it is still part of the state park and instruct you how to pay your entrance fee online.

I actually just drove the 50 yards to the fee booth, paid my fee to the worker, and then turned around and went back to the parking lot. The parking lot isn’t huge and serves as the parking lot for several trailheads, so it does fill up, particularly on weekends.

A trail leading up to a large butte with ledges carved into the stone acting like stairs.
The trail to Scout Cave has some fun spots, like this one, where you climb up and over a rocky hill.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 613 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

2. Johnson Canyon

A sand path winds around 2 mountains with cacti and bushes all around the trail

Johnson Canyon is one of the other trails that starts outside the pay booth area for Snow Canyon, from the same trailhead as Scout Cave, actually. However, where the Scout Cave trail turns right and goes around the cliffside, the Johnson Canyon trail turns left and heads into the canyon between the two mountains. It’s a very pretty area, with some trees and desert vegetation.

Towards the end, you’ll see the Johnson Arch on your right side. At 200 feet long, it’s very big; you can’t miss it! The arch is behind fencing, so you can only admire from the trail, but it’s still very nice. The trail ends where the canyon comes to a stop, where tall fins of rock squish together to create the canyon walls.

If you want to do this hike, you’ll need to go between fall-spring; Johnson Canyon is actually closed every year between March 15-September 14.

A small arch with big chunks of rock down the path from the orange and brown mountain.
A large canyon with rock walls surrounding the trail with bushes all over the sides
The end of the trail

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 154 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

3. Padre Canyon via Tuacahn Theater

There are two ways to access Padre Canyon hike. The first (and longer) way is from the same parking lot as Scout Canyon and Johnson Canyon. The second way is to actually leave Snow Canyon State Park and head into the Tuacahn Theater parking lot – it’s only a 5-minute drive away (if that).

You can use the parking lot for the theater and access the trailhead at the front of the parking lot, on the right side. Look for this sign:

A black metal trail heading sign in front of the mountains.

You’ll start hiking down and around some of the buildings by the Theater, and then head up into the canyon. The first part is relatively flat, with some mild uphill gain, and a relatively level path. About halfway, the path becomes much steeper and rockier – you’ll be climbing up decent-sized rocks, instead of just walking on a path.

The views are incredible, whether looking up towards the saddle or down into the valley. This is a somewhat off the beaten path trail in Snow Canyon, but we really loved it.

Since Padre Canyon is accessible from both sides of the mountain, you could climb up and over the mountain and then down the other side (you would want a second vehicle parked at the other end if you did this, though).

This is one of the best hikes in Snow Canyon for getting away from the crowds.

The view from the top of the mountain looking through the sides of the mountain looking at the snow covered mountains and town.
A woman stands on a rock looking out at the beautiful crack in the rock looking out at the town and distant snow covered mountains.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 744 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

4. Jenny’s Canyon

Jenny’s Canyon is very short, easy, and popular hike in Snow Canyon State Park. There actually isn’t even a parking lot for this hike, just a pull-off on the side of the road. This pull-off is very small and only fits about 8 cars, so the area is regularly full. Thankfully, because the hike is short, turnover is quick, but you may need to swing by again to find an open spot.

A slot canyon with sand covering the ground and different holes and crevices in the rock.
A bright orange slot canyon with slippery rocks and bright greens bushes and cacti to the side.
View from the overlook

The hike itself is flat and easy, and you’re walking from the road to the face of the mountain. On your left is a short but beautiful slot canyon (about 50 yards long), and on your right is a little stairway to an overlook.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Very easy

5. West Canyon Road

A large rock with a small arch and sandy gray bushes at the bottom next to a gravel road.

West Canyon Road is a beautiful, 8 mile long path that runs mainly along the base of the mountains. This path is unpaved gravel and sand, but is fairly level and is popular with bikers.

You can start this trail from the Whiptail Trail, a paved trail running along the side of the road from the south entrance and into the park. West Canyon Road splits off from Whiptail Trail after a couple of miles. Otherwise, you can access West Canyon Road from the sand dunes.

This is one of the best trails in Snow Canyon for getting away from any crowds.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 7.9 miles (end to end)
  • Elevation Gain: 462 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate

6. Sand Dunes

A sandy field with sloping rock figures in the background

The Sand Dunes in Snow Canyon State Park barely qualify as a hike, as it’s only 1/4 mile one-way to reach them, but you can then walk around, explore, and play in the sand dunes as much as you want – they stretch on for quite a ways. This is a beautiful area, with the sand in front of you and the orange mountains behind you.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 29 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

7. Hidden Pinyon Lookout

A woman in a black and grey shirt stands on the edge of a ledge looking over the descending snow canyon.

Of all the hikes we did in Snow Canyon State Park, Hidden Pinyon was probably my favorite. This hike takes you into the rocks and mountains, and you get the chance to get up close and personal with the orange rocks and hike right in between boulders.

A small and skinny path next to sloping rocks with handholds and large black rocks leading up to a ledge.

There are some fun spots to climb on the rocks and do a bit of scrambling, and in some spots the trail is pretty narrow. The views you get over the mountains are phenomenal. This hike is easy enough for kids, and is really one of the best hikes in Snow Canyon.

A bright patch of interesting shaped rocks in the middle of the sandy valley
Those rocks though!
A large and sheer rock butte in the front of some climbing rocks and bushes covering the ground

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 299 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

8. Petrified Sand Dunes

The Petrified Sand Dunes trail is one of the most interesting trails in Snow Canyon, as you are walking across dune after “dune” of rocks that used to be sand dunes. The hike starts off on actual sand, then quickly detours onto these rocks, where layers and layers of thin rock stack on each other and slant on their side.

Sloped rock leading upwards with bushes in between the cracks in the bright orange rocks.

This is such a fun hike, as you’re just hiking over the curves and domes of the rock, and most of the time there’s not a set path. There are trail markers to help guide you through, though, so keep your eye out for the round balls on the ground with painted arrows.

Sloped orange rocks leading down the sand in front of steep and sheer rock mountains.

The official trail ends at a 4 way junction with other trails, and you can continue straight to the Petrified Sand Dunes Overlook. The overlook is on a craggly hill and right up near the other mountains and hills – the views are fantastic.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1.6 miles, plus another ~1/4 mile to the overlook
  • Elevation Gain: 240 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

9. Lava Flow Trail

The Lava Flow Trail in Snow Canyon takes you on through fields of, well, lava rocks. The stark black rocks make for such an interesting landscape, and contrast nicely with the surrounding orange mountains. During the course of the hike, you’ll also pass 3 different lava caves that you can enter and explore.

A pile of small black rocks in front of a swirl of colored rocks on the mountain above.

Lava Cave #1

The first lava cave is easy to pass by – it’s just a hole in the ground next to the trail, and you may not realize how big it is until you come right up to the edge. There are some signs about lava caves by the first cave, so keep your eyes out for the placards.

This cave is actually a little tricky to go into – the cave is deep and fairly sheer. You can scramble your way down and in, going from ledge to ledge, just be careful, and watch your head – it’s easy to bonk it on the low ceilings.

A cave entrance with rock steps carved down descending deeper into the ground.

Lava Cave #2

You can walk down into the depression under the overhang of this cave and explore some of the nooks and crannies. There is a small lava tube that continues farther underground, but it was pretty tight and hard to get to – most people just walk around the exterior areas.

A small  black rock wall looking over the orange sunset.

Lava Cave #3

The third and last lava cave is by far the coolest, and definitely the most accessible one to explore. You’ll climb down into this depression, and then into the opening on the far side of the rocks.

A cave entrance with black and yellow rocks.

You can walk through the opening easily, and then explore farther into the cave. It’s not super deep, but you can go in far enough that you will FOR SURE need a light. Most people were just using their phone’s flashlights, but I happened to have a headlamp in my backpack and wore that, which was definitely a better option.

The entire interior of the cave is full of big rocks and boulders that you’ll be climbing and scrambling on, so it’s an uneven surface. The back is quite dark – don’t be fooled by the below picture, taken at the back of the cave looking towards the front – my camera was on Night Mode here it captured way more than what you will experience.

A crevice in the rock leading downwards with people walking down with flashlights and large pieces of rock
A rocky cave opening with lots of pebbles and large pieces of rock in the sandy path.
From the opening of the cave looking out

Many people choose to turn back after Lava Cave #3, but there is more trail to hike if you want. The rest of the trail goes away from the lava fields, through desert brush, and down next to some beautiful, red, orange, and white rocks. The trail officially ends right at the base of the mountain at West Canyon Trail.

This is one of best hikes in Snow Canyon State Park for kids, as the hike isn’t too hard and children tend to really love exploring the lava caves!

A sloped rock formation with different colors swirling around with bushes covering the bottom.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 404 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Practical Information for Hiking in Snow Canyon

Entrance Fees

The entrance fee is $10 per vehicle for Utah residents, and $15 per vehicle for non-Utah residents. This pass is good for one day only.


Snow Canyon State Park is open from 6am-10pm year round.

Where is Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon is located on the northwest side of St. George, just 8 miles from the city. The North Entrance is accessible from Highway 18, and the South Entrance is just off of Snow Canyon Parkway/East Center Street.

Best Time to Visit Snow Canyon

The best time to visit Snow Canyon is during the fall, winter, and spring, when the temperatures are mild to moderate. Temperatures in the summer can soar well over 100 degrees F, becoming dangerously hot, particularly on the exposed trails of the park.

If you do visit in summertime, bring a minimum of 1 L of water per person, and plan to hike early in the morning or later in the evening.

Camping in Snow Canyon

There is a 33 unit campground set in a beautiful location in the park. Campsites are $40/night, or $45/night if you want a site with water and electric hookups. The campground also has showers, potable water, and sewage disposal. You can make reservations in advance here (campsites regularly sell out).

How Much Time Do You Need in Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon is a pretty large state park, and there are a lot of trails to hike and explore. I spent 1.5 days doing the hikes on this list. You could easily spend 2-3 days doing all the hikes in the park.

Why Is It Called Snow Canyon?

Snow Canyon is named after Erastus and Lorenzo Snow, two men who were prominent leaders of the first settlers in the area.

Is Snow Canyon Worth Visiting?

100% Snow Canyon is worth adding to a southern Utah itinerary, particularly if you want to explore more of the state outside of the national parks. It also works well as a stop on a road trip through Utah to southern California locations, like San Diego.

Many people have said that if there weren’t the incredibly impressive Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks nearby, Snow Canyon could actually be a national park itself, and along with parks like Goblin Valley, is one of my favorite state parks in Utah.

Truly, the landscapes here were gorgeous and the hikes are very enjoyable.

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