Snow Canyon State Park is located northwest of St. George, Utah, and about 53 miles from Zion. This park features interesting, and beautiful red Navajo sandstone formations, some which are capped by an overlay of black lava rock. Hiking along the trails within the park may be enjoyed year round; however early spring and fall are particularly popular. During this time of the year you avoid the hot summers. Winters are usually mild, but there may be occasional cold spells, however, despite its name, there is rarely any snow in Snow Canyon. Within the park there is a 35-unit campground with restrooms, hot showers, some with electric hookups, and a dump station. If you have a day or two extra on your trip to Zion, I am sure that you would enjoy exploring the trails, some leading over petrified sand dunes. A number of movies have been filmed in this park including, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Electric Horseman starring Robert Redford, The Conqueror starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward. For more information visit my Snow Canyon, a Place of Many Colors VT pages.
A little over 80 miles north east of Zion is Bryce Canyon National Park. Here you will see some awe-inspiring landscapes. Hoodoos, pillar of rocks that have been formed by erosion rise skyward in fantastic shapes. Many of these are a beautiful red color and cover the landscape for miles. If you only drive over to Bryce for the day take the scenic drive, stopping at the look out points, it will be well worth your time. If you can, take a hike down into the Hoodoos for the full impact of their size and beauty. This park holds some of the most interesting and beautiful views I have ever seen, try not to miss it.
The Wild West is synonymous with Ghost Towns and Zion has one, conveniently a short drive away. Grafton traces its origin to 1859 when its fertile surroundings gave birth to a cotton industry despite local Indian attacks. It seems the Indians liked the place too and for good reason; it's a gorgeous area with a good water source. Evidently the settlers won out and the town thrived until the 1930s. What you see now is a skeleton of its former glory but a nice step back in time including a simple old church.
Access Grafton via Route 9 from the west entrance to the park. We stopped here on our way back from our backpacking trip on the West Rim so can easily be combined with a trip to either of the Kolob areas.
The Kolob Terrace section of the park is probably its most remote part of Zion due to the 36 mile winding road to access Lava Point, the area's core. The drive itself is breathtaking and there are numerous trails into very little traveled wilderness like Wildcat Canyon and the West Rim trail. Please plan ahead as there are no facilities in this part of the park. The primitive campground at Lava Point only has pit toilets and no running water. Check for opening as this part of the park is much higher in elevation and is not open in winter. We saw quite a bit of snow even in May.
We didn't see much wild life during our seven days at Zion, even in the back country but the wild turkey was ever present and it seems in mating season while there. Of course, the ubiquitous squirrels were always the lookout for a handout. Don't feed the cute little buggers, please.
As I'm sure Native Americans named the beautiful rock formations before them, Mormon settlers had some interesting if a bit zealously religious names for many of them. Zion conveniently has signs everywhere detailing their names as well as information about the formations themselves. The West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin are some of the most famous. Capturing them in perfect light is quite tricky as the canyon is steep so early and late morning light also produces a fair amount of shadow.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Grafton is its very atmospheric cemetery. Inscriptions on the graves tell a sad story of harsh frontier life where children often died young as well as proof of a bloody Indian-settler dispute over who had rights to the land.
The Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park is a great place to escape the crowds in Zion Valley. This colorful and more serene area offers a near empty scenic drive and some lengthy hikes such as the one to the 14-mile round trip to Kolob Arch which I did as a day hike in 1995. This arch is the second longest free standing arch in the world next to Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. We contemplated doing this as an overnight hike to get better light on the Arch but the lack of water for drinking/cooking put a damper on our desires and after completing the West Rim hike from Lava Point in the nearby Kolob Terrace section of the park, we decided to move on. The Kolob Canyon is 90 minutes from the south entrance of Zion National Park.
Here we go !! finally we got the springs... i was quite disappointed.. i was expecting huge waterfalls and a place different to this.. but thats life.. !! Actually the stream and the trail follows river up but i reckoned it was enough and if i was worried a little bit to get wet going up...i descended the river to get to starting point so fast and regardless crossing the river and forgetting my initial worries... It was one of my best experiences crossing America.. proud of it !
Despite fatigue and the long track you discover impressive views and amazing nooks like this at any narrows curve .. pay so much attention to weather forecast... fast and dangerous storms can change easily the quiet and beautiful narrows in a swiftcurrent stream !!
The path is strenuous and long so long...i started at 11.30 aprox and i was coming back closer to 5pm .. actually the first km are easy job but after some bendings the water current becomes swifter and huge rocks, moody lands and your wet socks and shoes become the effort harder...
Each step become more thrilling and at the same time the canyon gets higher and narrow. Water was quite cold and at some points quite deep... more than my stick, so try to avoid the less swallow waters... its easy to watch it .. because water become darkish and scarier
The easiest part is so simple and when its some water on the stream (that was my case) the first crossings are so funny.. the game starts after a 180 degree bend so clear to see after those 15 or 20 minutes of trail..
These pictures are on this part of the narrows
I reckon that the first time i had to cross the river just started the hike i was a little bit annoyed about boots and socks (lol). Actually i didnt imagine how i ended up the "trail". Anyway the first 15 minutes are awesome.. everything is amazing there trying to avoid streams and thread over the water.. Later you forget that is water and simply enjoy time there
Ok, you're visiting Zion in the Summer and it's HOT!! Take a nice ride up Kolob Res. Rd to the Wildcat Trailhead and do the Northgate Peak hike. The temps will be 15-20 degrees cooler!
This is a nice level hike thru the forest to a terrific viewpoint. This is also the TH for the Subway and a connector to the West Rim Trail. The hike is well signed. Never crowded!