Monday, October 9, 2017

Snow Canyon and Sand Hollow

Although this is the seventh time we’ve been in the St. George, Utah/Zion National Park area, we had never made it to Snow Canyon State Park, with its colorful sandstone cliffs and lava flows. So when I was trying to figure out where to go after leaving Best Friends I checked out the website. There was one site available for two nights in the dry camping area ($20) that was long enough for us to fit so I booked it. We arrived on October 6, marking our 9 year anniversary on the road. Isn’t that hard to believe!

Our site, #19, was large and private with no close neighbors. No hookups but water is available at spigots in various places around the loops. There are flush toilets and showers but you have to hold down a chain for water. That’s the first time we’ve seen a shower like that and decided ours was better.


They do have some water and electric RV sites but they share utilities and are extremely close together. You better hope for quiet neighbors.


It was pretty warm on Wednesday afternoon when we arrived, so we waited until early evening and took a bike ride on the paved Whiptail trail that runs just across from the campground and actually goes to St. George. It’s really hilly but a beautiful ride.


I also rode part of the 8 mile dirt West Canyon Rd.


Since we were only there one full day we had a hard time deciding on which trails to hike but didn’t want to drive to a trailhead. We ended up making a loop starting on the Red Sands trail across from the campground, to the Petrified Dunes, Lava Flow, Butterfly, West Canyon, and Whiptail trails. The signage is fairly good but even so we managed to get a bit lost. Of course, this isn’t such a bad place to be lost.







Climbing up the petrified dunes was hard work so we stopped to eat some trail mix. This blue jay was obviously used to people feeding him as he came very close. We might have dropped a few peanuts.







We passed by a lava tube on the Lava Flow trail.


The black rocks are a nice contrast.


As we were trying to figure out how to make a loop, we met a nice couple from Montreal checking their map and hiked the rest of the way with them. This is where we got off trail and had to walk through a rocky wash with deep sand. Jim blamed it on our conversation about politics causing us to miss our turn. It’s been interesting talking American politics with foreigners since our last election.


With check-out being 2 pm we had time for another hike the following day and picked the Johnson Canyon trail based on Suzanne’s recommendation. You can’t really go wrong on any of the trails in Snow Canyon.

I got tired of waiting on Jim to get ready so I walked the 2 miles to the trailhead and he drove down later to meet me. It was a beautiful morning.


The parking lot for this trail is actually outside of the park so you don’t have to pay the $6 entry fee. It’s a fairly easy but really nice hike of around two miles round trip. It boasts a natural spring (the only running water in the park), black lava flows, red-rock walls, cottonwood and willow trees, and an impressive arch near the end.





We were searching for the arch but didn’t find it, when some people arrived and pointed it out. The lighting was all wrong so it was hard to tell it was actually open in the back. And it was too steep and rocky to go off trail and get closer.



Canyon’s end and our turn around point.



We really enjoyed our two nights in Snow Canyon, the only downside being the internet was very sporadic, which drives Jim crazy. He would rather have none at all.

From there, on Friday we moved a short 23 miles to Sand Hollow State Park, about 12 miles east of St.George, where we spent a night in May of 2009 on our way to Zion National Park for the first time. The West campground has full hookups for $28/night. I made reservations here for four nights since the temps have been in the 80s and we wanted A/C. Also we had some things to take care of, like shopping, laundry, and a few RV maintenance issues.

The roads are tiered so most sites have views of either the reservoir or the mountains.


Most people here this weekend have either boats, OHVs or both. There are no trails on this side of the lake, though, so it’s quiet. There is another campground across the lake for that with primitive camping along the shore.


On our walks we were surprised to find a subdivision right below the dam.


Better hope there is never a breach or a lot of houses will be under water.


This family was having a great time jumping off the cliff while dad was filming them from their boat. There were warning signs at the visitor center about swimmer’s itch from the water, but that didn’t seem to keep people out.


We had a horrible wind and dust storm that began late yesterday afternoon and lasted through the night. A lot of blowing fine red sand found its way inside, the one thing we don’t like about the west.  An older couple came in at dusk and attempted to set up a tent but it got dark and we couldn’t tell if they were successful. Their car was still there this morning so I’m thinking they abandoned the tent and slept in the car. We would have been looking for a motel room!

Today is our 35th wedding anniversary, which is also hard to believe. Considering we decided to marry after only knowing each other for three weeks, it seems we made the right decision. It’s been a very good 35 years, especially that last nine. No big plans other than laundry and working out at the Washington Community Center. We went there on Saturday and really liked the equipment. Tomorrow we’re moving to Watchman Campground in Zion for three nights, so we’ll have a belated celebration with dinner out in Springdale. Yes, life is good.


  1. Our 8th anniversary will be on the 16th. Yes, it has flown by.
    Those neighbors are a bit too close for our liking.

    I am sure foreigners may be more astute to our politics than many Americas are.

    Snow Canyon is gorgeous. Your photos do a terrific job of showing us the beauty of the canyon.

    Happy Anniversary. Enjoy your belated celebration.

    1. Thanks. We're glad we finally made it to Snow Canyon.

  2. This is one area we will bookmark for a future Utah visit. Nine years on the road and still going strong! I had forgotten that you two had decided to marry after knowing each other for a short time. Congrats to making it to 35! Here's to the next 35?! You could make it!

    1. You guys really need to visit this area. You will love Snow Canyon!

  3. Happy Anniversary and wishing you many more. Your posts remind me how beautiful Utah is and that I really need to spend more time there.

    1. Utah is incredibly beautiful. We have so many photos of red rock but can't help taking more!

  4. Had had we not taken a break from full-timing this would have been our 8th Anniversary!! Oh well!!
    Congrats to you guys 9 wonderful years!!
    Your pics are beautiful!!

    1. Thanks, I remember you two started fulltiming not long after we did. Don't know if we'll make it ten years but who knows!

  5. Happy anniversary, and happy travel anniversary! Wow, nine years on the road. That's impressive. We love Snow Canyon. It's such a beautiful spot, and as you said, you can't really go wrong on any of the trails. The deep sand one isn't as much fun as the others, though. :-)

    1. Thanks, Laurel. I am glad we finally got to stay in Snow Canyon. I would love to go back and hike the rest of the trails.

  6. Happy anniversary. We have you beat by 17 years and can’t imagine life apart.
    We love Sand Hollow and Snow Canyon. Are’t they great places?

    1. Yes, they are both great places.
      You two must have been 15 when you got married!

  7. Utah is the best! And the perfect place to celebrate a couple of milestone! Congrats!

  8. Congratulations on your anniversaries, you two should be proud of yourselves!

    We are headed to Escalante for a few days and should see you soon down near Virgin.

  9. We're a few weeks behind you with plans to visit both Snow Canyon and Sand Hollow. It will be our first time at Snow Canyon and it sounds like a dry camping spot is the way to go. Excited to hike the trails there. Wishing you both a very happy anniversary!

    1. You definitely want to stay in one of the dry campsites, but some are not very level. We got lucky.
      The loop hike we did was between 5-6 miles but the longer Padre Canyon loop was also recommended by friends. It's a beautiful place.

  10. Happy 35th Wedding Anniversary! Time goes fast when your having fun. In October 2008 while visiting friends in St. George, Utah I made the decision to retire early. They live in a subdivision just outside of Snow Canyon. Beautiful area and close to Zion. Your photo's bring back great memories. Thanks.

    1. Good decision! Those subdivisions near Snow Canyon are lovely. Jim actually checked home prices around there but they are way out of our range. I think we're destined to live in an RV :)

  11. We really like Sand Hollow SP. We were heading that way last spring but the campground was closed because of work on the lake. The lake looks great. We are thinking of trying again this March. I want to return to Snow Canyon and near by areas for some more hiking. It is so easy to get lost in Snow Canyon but not actual lost just losing the trail. Thanks for a great red rock fix with so many beautiful photos:)

    Happy Anniversary!!! We can do anything if we can survive all these years in an RV together:)

  12. Happy anniversaries. I really liked Snow Canyon but didn't walk enough trails because Sasha wasn't allowed.

  13. At first I thought we hadn't been to Snow Canyon, but then the picture started to look familiar. We just drove through it one year, but would love to do some hiking there.

  14. We had a very short courtship as well, we met in May and were married by November with most of that time spent apart as Wayne was living in Canada! We celebrated 28 years this past November and sometimes I think that short time we had together meant we had no expectations so no disappointments.