21 Top Hikes Near St. George, Utah You Need to Experience

Looking for the best hikes near St. George? I’ve got a lot of great suggestions for you – read on for details.

I love the St. George area – I’ve visited many times, and it’s just a gorgeous area of Utah. And if you want to do some great hiking in the Southwest, St. George is a fantastic place to base yourself, as there are dozens of engaging and beautiful trails to discover in the area.

Located in the very corner of Utah, right on the border of Arizona and Nevada, St. George has great proximity to many state parks, national conservation areas, and national parks (the closest are Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon). Beyond that, there are tons of beautiful hikes not associated with any state or national area, but are still gorgeous and definitely worth your time.

All of the hikes on this list are within 1.5 hours (usually less!) of St. George, so these are all easy hikes to do if you’re staying in or near St. George, Utah. The hikes on this list are divided up into regions to make it easier to get a sense of where everything is, and to plan for several hikes close to each other.

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.

Hikes Near St. George in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area

Red Cliffs Conservation Area is a fairly large area of land (about 44,000 acres) just to the north of St. George. The area is famous for red and white rocks and beautiful vistas, and has some excellent hiking opportunities in it.

1. The Vortex

Large rock humps with white and orange strata intermixing. There are large amounts of scattered trees around the rock plain leading up to the vortex of the rocks.

35 minutes north of St. George, The Vortex Trail (also known as Lower Sand Cove Trail or “The Bowl”), is a super cool trail that takes you to a sinkhole formation known as the Vortex.

While the hike starts on a sandy/dirt trail, the path quickly transitions to being exclusively on this cool, checkerboard sandstone rock. Some of the rock was white, while much of it was orange or red as it takes you through the hills and mountains.

Rocks sloping upwards with large trees coming out of crevices

The trail mostly takes you straight up the hills and into the mountain. When you reach the final ridge, you’ll be looking down over a bowl area that has a drop off over the valley.

Here, you’ll actually make a sharp almost 180 degree hook, and go up the top ridge to see the two sinkholes. When I was there, the first sinkhole was filled with water, and the second sinkhole was mostly dry. The sinkhole is much deeper than it appears in photos!

A rock sloping downwards to make a small hole at the bottom.
The Vortex

Personally, I felt that the the Vortex rock formation itself was fine, but the real fun part of this hike is the trail itself and all of the interesting and cool rock formations that you get to climb and scramble on.

Although the hike is very fun, the path itself is very poorly marked. I would recommend having AllTrails Pro on this trail, as you can track your progress against the marked trail, and the app alerts you when you’ve gone off-trail.

Trailhead Information: The trailhead is accessible via a gravely road right off of Highway 18. While the road is unpaved, it is easy enough to drive through on any kind of vehicle.

There is no fee or posted hours to park or hike the Vortex trail.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 2.3 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 524 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

2. Red Reef Trail

A woman stands on a small patch of gravel in the middle of a small stream at the bottom of a rock valley.

This is a gorgeous trail with a ton of wow and fun factor. You start hiking towards a canyon, and quickly come up to a stream. This stream enters and then follows a fairly narrow canyon as it twists around, with a few extremely picturesque waterfalls.

A woman sits on the base of a slot canyon with water running throughout the canyon from a small waterfall
The handholds for climbing up the side of the trail are right behind and to the right of my head in this picture

This hike is very family-friendly, but there are a couple of spots where you have to cross the stream by jumping between rocks, and a spot where a small waterfall comes down and you have to climb up the cliff side by using handholds and footholds to scale. You’re not high up at all, so it’s not dangerous.

The canyon walls are deep red, there’s a little cave you can explore. The canyon walls undulate quite a bit, which creates a lot of visual interest and little spots to explore. This is a fantastic, yet easy hike to do near St. George.

Trail Stats:

  • Entrance fee: $6/vehicle. Note that parking can be limited, especially on weekends.
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 219 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

3. Elephant Arch Trail

A sandy plain with a small rock pile in the background.

Elephant Arch Trail is a fun hike through a sandy path that arrives at a rocky outcropping with an arch that resembles an elephant’s head and trunk.

The first part of the hike is down to and through a dry riverbed. Then you turn off into an outcropping of rocks, and start hiking through a canyon area. Because this is a very sandy path, the hike is quite a bit more difficult than if you were just hiking on packed dirt or rock.

A large sandy path leading up the rock with bright orange rocks leading up the
Elephant Arch from the end of the trail – it’s right in the middle of the picture – can you spot it?

Elephant Arch is located in the middle of a rocky cliff, and really impressive – it definitely looks like an elephant! You can actually climb up on the rocks right around the arch, and up and behind the arch, and there are some fun little spots to explore (just don’t climb on the arch!)

We actually thought that the view from behind the arch looking back to the valley looked even more like an elephant.

An elephant shaped rock with light orange rocks in the background.
Elephant Arch from behind

To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to drive offroad for several minutes to reach the trailhead, but it should be accessible for most cars (low-riding cars will have an issue, since there are some bumps).

There will be a long line of cars parked on the side of the road, and then a gate where the trail starts. Google Maps said we could drive farther, but this parking “lot” is as far as you can go. (The AllTrails app was accurate for where the trail actually started.)

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 341 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

4. Pioneer Park

A large orange rock plain with mountains in the background

Pioneer Park is a cool area right on the edge of St George that is full of fun caves, inlets, and erosion spots. Most people come here to just explore all the ins and outs of the rocks.

There’s one spot here labeled the “Pioneer Park Narrows” and it’s an extremely thin, extremely straight slot canyon that takes you from the ground to the top of the rocks. This is definitely a spot you’ll need to squeeze through going sideways – I barely fit!

At the top, you can walk around and explore, or there’s a trail you can follow that makes a loop around the park. If you don’t want to squeeze through the slot canyon but still want to hike the loop, you there are other access points up to the top.

Between the easy accessibility and the multiple areas to play in, climb on, and explore, this is a very popular area with families. There are no entrance fees for Pioneer Park.

An extremely skinny path with black walls making a slot canyon with a sandy path in St. George.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1.3 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 121 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

5. Kanarra Falls Trail

A wide orange cavern with light pouring in from cracks in the roof and an amateur step ladder leading up to the ground.

Kanarra Falls isn’t actually in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, but it’s fairly close to it, and doesn’t have another section that it fits nicely into, so we’re including it here.

Kanarra Falls is a privately owned trail about 45 minutes north of St. George. On this hike, you’ll start hiking near a stream, crossing it several times. Later in the hike, you’ll be hiking directly in the stream.

The stream eventually enters a beautiful slot canyon, with several waterfalls. There are ladders placed to the side of the waterfalls so you can climb up and still continue on the trail.

This hike costs $12 per person, and is limited to 150 hikers per day. It is highly recommended to buy permits online in advance, as they regularly sell out weeks in advance during the warmer months.

Hikes Near St. George in Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is a stunning area in the Red Mountains that features red-orange and white sandstone, and the remains of the Santa Clara volcano. It’s only 17 minutes from St. George, Utah.

Entrance to Snow Canyon costs $10 for Utah residents and $15 for non-residents, and a pass is valid for one day. The next 4 trails are the top hikes in Snow Canyon State Park that you just can’t miss.

6. Scout Cave

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. Scout Cave itself is a medium-sized cave with a teardrop opening and views over the valley.

After walking through a lava field, you descend into the canyon and hike along the cliff face for about a mile. The majority of the elevation gain occurs at the end, when you climb up from the canyon floor to the cave.

Overall, it’s an easy and pretty trail, with a lot of fun factor, especially with the pretty cave at the end. Personally, I think it’s one of the best hikes right in St. George.

Trail Stats:

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

7. Lava Caves

A rocky cave opening with lots of pebbles and large pieces of rock in the sandy path.

The Lava Flow Trail in Snow Canyon takes you through fields of lava flow and lava rocks to 3 different and extremely cool lava caves. The stark black rocks make for such an interesting landscape and contrast nicely with the surrounding orange mountains.

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.

The opening is easy to walk through, and you can explore further into the cave from there. While it’s not super deep, you can go in far enough that you will definitely need a light (the back of the cave is very dark). I had a headlamp in my backpack and wore that, which was a much better option than the phone flashlight that most people were using.

8. Hidden Pinyon Trail

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

Hidden Pinyon Trail is just a fun hike, plain and simple. This trail takes you right in and through boulders and the orange rocks, and there are some spots where the trail is a bit narrow as it passes right by the hills and boulders. There are some opportunities to climb and scramble on the rocks and mountains.

The views you get over to the mountains from the path are phenomenal. This hike is exciting enough for adults but easy enough for kids, and is a really spectacular hike very close to St. George.

Trail Stats:

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

9. Petrified Sand Dunes

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

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.

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, though, so keep your eye out for the round balls on the ground with painted arrows.

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 craggy 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

Hikes Near St. George in Zion National Park

Just under an hour from St. George, Zion National Park is full of incredible hikes and beautiful landscapes. If you’re visiting St. George, Zion should definitely be on your short list of places to go and see.

The entrance fee for Zion National Park is $35, which is valid for 7 days. Otherwise, you can purchase the America the Beautiful Pass for $80, which lets you into all sites in the National Park System free for one year.

10. The Narrows

A large shiny slot canyon with dark orange walls and bright blue water running through the bottom.

The Narrows is an incredible bucket list slot canyon hike in the southwest. You’ll start by hiking 1 mile on the paved Riverside Trail, and then leave the path and start hiking IN the river. The water is anywhere from ankle to waist deep, but for the most part the water stays under knee level.

The river you’re hiking through is lined by tall, orange, undulating canyon walls, and the canyon does narrow the farther you hike. The narrowest section is at “Wall Street”, where the walls get quite tight and the canyon walls are even more pocked and eroded.

The trail officially ends at Big Springs, but to reach here you’ll actually have to swim through some sections, as the water gets quite deep. Most people just hike up a section of the Narrows and turn around when they are tired.

The Narrows is very popular to hike during the warmer summer months, but if you want to have the canyon basically all to yourself, consider hiking the Narrows in winter.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 9 miles if you go all the way to Big Springs. It’s 6 miles RT if you go to Wall Street
  • Elevation: 695 feet if you go all the way to Big Springs
  • Difficulty: Medium

11. Angel’s Landing

A tall skinny rock formation with beautiful black and orange swirled colors on the rock with large trees leading up the path.

Angel’s Landing is one of the top adventure hikes in the United States, and is the most popular hike in Zion National Park.

After a relatively straightforward hike that switchbacks on the side of the mountain and through a canyon, you reach the spine of Angel’s Landing (also known as the Hogsback). This is the part of the trail that is extremely narrow, with tall, sheer cliffs on either side of the path. At some points, the path is only a few feet wide!

As scary as it looks, hiking through here is actually pretty safe, as there are poles and chains set up from here to the summit. It’s an absolutely exhilarating hike, with incredible panoramic views at the top.

This hike currently requires a permit to hike, and there’s a lottery that you need to enter to try for a permit. You can apply several months ahead of time in the Seasonal Lottery, or the day ahead of time in the Day Before Lottery. Get more information about the Angel’s Landing lottery and permits here.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

12. Canyon Overlook Trail

Canyon Overlook is a short but surprisingly exciting trail (you are walking along the side of a cliff most of the time ) up to an incredible overlook over Zion National Park. To be honest, I think the views here are pretty comparable to the views you get at the top of Angel’s Landing, but without the crazy chain hike or required permit.

The other fun part of Canyon Overlook is that the overlook area is quite big and there are a lot of big boulders to climb and scramble on. You can spend a decent bit of time exploring the overlook area. Parking for Canyon Overlook is found just on the side of the road.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 187 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

13. Taylor’s Creek Trail (Kolob Canyon)

Large bright colored rectangular rocks overlapping in the valley with lush bright green trees in front of the large stunning rock formations.

Kolob Canyon is a bit of a hidden gem in what is otherwise a very well-known national park. While it is still part of Zion National Park, the entrance to Kolob Canyon is an approximately 45 minute drive from the main entrance of Zion, and only 30 minutes from St. George. Kolob Canyon is really lovely – there are multiple peaks and valleys among the orange rocks.

Possibly the best hike in Kolob Canyon is the Taylor’s Creek Trail, which starts near the mountains, and heads into a canyon. As you hike, the mountain walls grow taller alongside you. What makes this hike particularly fun is that you cross Taylor’s Creek more than 12 times. It’s a shallow creek and there are rocks that you can easily hop between.

Taylor’s Creek was a super picturesque hike with the beginning of the hike being rather flat, but it gets hillier the farther you go in. At the end of the hike you are rewarded with a double arch in the canyon wall. 

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 4.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 590 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous

Hikes Near St. George in Kanab, Utah

Kanab is about 1.5 hours from St. George, and it offers several fun hikes to do in southern Utah. All of these hikes are free to do.

14. Moqui Sand Caves

The Moqui Sand caves with large arched circles looking out at the Utah landscape with sand covering the tunnels.

The Moqui Sand Caves are a cool, manmade spot just north of Kanab, Utah. These caves are actually the “ruins” of a sand mine that operated in the 1900’s. Parking for the sand caves is off of Highway 89, on Angel Canyon Road. From here, you’ll hike through the sand, just past the caves up above, to where there’s a steep, rocky cliff face.

Large sand tunnels with large arches looking out at the St. George landscapes

You’ll need to scale up this rocky “wall” to reach the caves, but be careful! This area is actually pretty steep and slippery and there’s not a marked trail, so wear your most grippy shoes and choose your footing carefully.

When you reach the caverns, there’s a long tunnel to explore with several arched openings overlooking the valley.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 124 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate

15. Belly of the Dragon

A large white rock cavern like tunnel leading down into the large rocks with rings wrapping around

Belly of the Dragon is a short but exciting little hike near Kanab. This manmade, old drainage tunnel is only about 100 yards long, but looks like you’re walking through the intestines of a large creature. The entrance requires a little bit of a scramble up some rocks to start.

The trail does continue past the tunnel, although most people just go through the tunnel and come back.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: ~100 yards
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Difficulty: Very easy

16. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Large sand dunes with large bright sand reflecting up against the green lush mountains.

The sand dunes are some of the most unique in the world, with a stunning color and extra fine, powdery sand. You can explore as much or as little as you like, a fairly large area of dunes as well as forests to explore. Many animals make this area their home, so watch the sand for cool tracks!

Trail Stats:

  • Difficulty: Medium – hiking dunes is always harder than you think.

Hikes Near St. George in Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park is a beautiful area in Nevada, just off of I-15 and 1.5 hours from St. George. This park is full of stunning, fiery red mountains and large boulders, with a handful of hikes that definitely would be worth making a day trip from St. George.

Valley of Fire has a daily entrance fee of $15 per vehicle for out of state vehicles, and $10 per vehicle for Nevada residents. There are some incredible hikes and rock formations in Valley of Fire – these are the ones you must see:

17. Fire Wave Trail

A large rock with large defined swirled colors of strata in front of the orange bright rocks in different formations.

The Fire Wave Trail takes you to the Fire Wave, an incredible rock formation with bands of red, light pink, orange, and cream swirling around each other. And while the Fire Wave is the most stunning part of this hike, the entire area around the Fire Wave is filled with beautiful formations of multi-colored rocks.

Make sure that you explore and climb around the whole area to really see and appreciate the amazing colors in the rocks!

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 236 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

18. Pinnacles Trail

Large bright orange rock spires stacked on each other up against a brown mountain landscape in Valley of Fire

Pinnacles Trail is a total hidden gem hike in Valley of Fire State Park, and you will likely see no one else as you hike).

This hike is a decent bit of work to get to the payoff, as you’ll hike for about 2 miles through the flat, scrubby, and barren desert landscape until you see some of Valley of Fire’s characteristic round orange boulders rising up in the distance. That’s the Pinnacles section!

This area is absolutely gorgeous, with tall, spire-like rocks and plenty of places to scramble around and play. If you hike straight through, this section only lasts for about 0.5 miles, but it’s a stunner.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 429 feet
  • Difficulty: Medium

19. White Domes Trail

A woman in a red puffy jacket walks on a sandy path leading throughout white winding walls of White Dome Trail
Slot canyon in White Domes

White Domes is a popular hike in Valley of Fire, and is named for the big, round, light colored rocks at the beginning of the trail.

This trail is fun for a few reasons. Beyond the namesake domes, you’ll also see multi-colored rocks and even some striated rocks throughout the trail. Some rocks even had a purple tint to them!

This hike takes you down through a canyon, including a small section of tight, slot canyon! The slot part is short, maybe only 200 yards, but it is still very cool and adds a nice “flavor” to the hike.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 177 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hikes Near St George in Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park is an EXTREMELY off the beaten path park in Nevada – for 85% of the time I was there, I was quite literally the only person in the park. (The park is small and the parking lot was visible from several different areas).

This beautiful gem of a state park is located about 1.5 hours from St. George and has several hikes you should consider doing!

Cathedral Gorge has an entrance fee of $5/vehicle.

20. Miller Point Trail

A large valley with large humped rock formations with different horizontal lines of strata.

Millers Point Trail is definitely the most stunning hike in Cathedral Gorge – you can’t miss it! It leaves the parking lot, follows a path on open ground, and then enters this super cool canyon with a ton of visual interest, ridges, and spires on the cliffs. The path weaves its way through a river wash, and the walls of the canyon are pretty close to you.

After a quarter mile, you’ll come to a bridge, and then a staircase, that takes you up to the top of the canyon wall. The views from the staircase are the best views in the park, as the combination of close canyon walls, heavy erosion patterns, spires and pinnacles in front of you, and the winding path is all very picturesque.

Trail Stats:

  • Distance: 1 mile round trip from the main parking lot
  • Elevation Gain: 112 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

21. Moon Slots

A woman walks through a dirt path with crusted narrow and tall brown fins and spires.

Moon Slot Canyons (also known as Moon Caves) is an area of the ridgeline in Cathedral Gorge that has dozens of short paths through the extremely tall and extremely narrow fins and spires of the canyon.

If you’re using AllTrails, it will show you one specific canyon path as being “Moon Caves”, but there are so many little slot canyon trails to discover. Don’t worry too much about which canyon you’re in, it’s fun to just walk along the base of the cliff and explore all the little, meandering slot canyons that have been created in the rock.

Helpful Tips and Practical Info

Best Time to Go Hiking Near St. George

The best time to go hiking in the St. George area is fall, winter, and spring. Summer can get unbearably hot, and many of these hikes are not shaded. While winter can see snow, there are also periods of really nice weather – with days in the 40-60’s F.

A Quick Safety Note About Slot Canyons

While many of the slot canyons on this list are pretty short (the exception being the Narrows), it’s worth noting that you should never hike a slot canyon if there is a chance of rain anywhere in the area, or if it has rained recently.

Flash floods can and do occur in slot canyons, and are incredibly dangerous, as water rushes through fast and very high. Flash floods can also occur from rain that has fallen miles away, so check the entire region that you’re in for rain, and don’t risk it!

As I’m writing this, two hikers just drowned in a flash flood in a southern Utah slot canyon, so it definitely does happen. Be careful!

Always Leave No Trace

When you’re out in nature, it’s always important to leave no trace. This involves the following 7 principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare: Check the weather, download any maps needed, wear appropriate shoes, and bring enough water
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Please don’t leave trash around. Whatever you bring in, pack out
  • Leave What You Find: It’s generally discouraged to remove rocks, fossils, etc from your hikes. In addition, please don’t carve into rocks or leave graffiti.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife: Don’t approach wild animals, and give them a wide berth if you do encounter them
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Other Places to Visit on Your Trip to Southwest Road Trip

If you’re visiting southern Utah, there are tons of other incredible hikes, national and state parks, waterfalls, and natural wonders to visit.

Arches National Park is full of arches and spires to visit and discover, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Devil’s Garden, and Tower Arch. Nearby is Goblin Valley State Park , where you can freely roam through the goblin rock formations, or you can swing down and spend a day in Capitol Reef National Park, the least visited park in Utah that is massively underrated and has beautiful rock formations.

Grand Staircase-Escalante is a remote area of Utah that has wonders like the stunning Lower Calf Creek Falls and the insanely narrow slot canyons of Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch (which are some of my favorite slot canyons in the southwest).

In the southeastern corner of the state you’ll find gems like Valley of the Gods, Natural Bridges National Monument, and Four Corners Monument, as well as access to nearby attractions like Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado or Lake Powell and Page in Arizona.

Final Thoughts on the Best Trails Near St. George

While maybe not as well known as the epic hikes in the ever popular Zion National Park, St. George has a TON to offer. There are so many fun hikes to do near St. George, whether you go hiking right outside the city, or use St. George as a base for the

Pin for Later!


Similar Posts