Thursday, June 18, 2009

Snow Canyon - Campground of the Week for June 17-24

I haven't talked much about Utah's state parks yet on this blog, but that's not because they don't deserve recognition. The more time I spent outside in Utah, the more impressed I am with the state parks here. Utah has five national parks, and they are amazing, deserving, wonderful places. But because the landscape here is so unique, not every interesting area can be encompassed in the national parks. And where the national parks leave off, the state parks pick up. One of my personal favorites in the state park system is Snow Canyon State Park. Located just north of St. George, this desert canyon offers a beautiful, quiet alternative to the zoo-like atmosphere of Zion National Park this time of year.

Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon State Park preserves a red and salmon colored desert rockscape accented with dark layers of desert varnish, lichen, and basalt. In the northern part of the park, lava flows from as recent as 10,000 years ago cap many of the red rock formations like chocolate frosting on a red and white layer cake. The desert floor is covered with a mosaic of flora, including narrow-leaved yucca, creosote, pinyon pine, rabbitbrush, scrub oak and three leaved sumac. The park is home to the endangered desert tortise and many species of birds, including the lesser nighthawk, Costa's hummingbird, and ash throated flycatcher, rock and canyon wrens, northern mockingbirds, and lesser goldfinch. The park features a paved trail for biking, many hiking trails, and good rock climbing on the red rock faces. Intensely varnished walls make for unique climbing on sharply in-cut holds on the Circus Wall, only a few hundred yards off the main road. In total, there are approximately 180 climbing routes in the park. More climbing info here at Mountain Project. The campground in Snow Canyon is located in the heart of the scenery. Tent sites and RV sites are in seperate areas, making for a pleasant experience for both. The scenic walk-in sites have views south down-canyon, while paved, tightly spaced, full hook-up RV sites have covered eating areas that incorperate local lava rock into their design. Tent sites sport thoughtfully placed red sand tent pads under trees to maximize available shade. Solar-heated showers offer a much-needed opportunity to clean up on desert road trips.

Campsites, facilities:
There are 14 full hook-up sites, 17 sites without hook-ups, and two group sites. Cottontail Group Area accomodates up to 35 people and Quail Group Area up to 50 people. Full hook-up sites have picnic tables and barbeque grills. The other sites have picnic tables and fire pits. Aluminum recycling, garbage service, drinking water, and modern restrooms with showers are provided. A station is available. Leashed pets are permitted.

Reservations, fees:
Reservations are accepted at 800/322-3770 or online at Single site reservations must be made a minimum of two days in advance and can be arranged up to 16 weeks in advance. There is a non-refundable reservation fee of $8 for individual sites and $10.25 for group sites. Full hook-up sites are $20, sites without hook-ups are $16, the group sites are $3 per person (with a $50 cleaning deposit), and the day-use fee is $5. Open year-round.

Directions: From St. George, drive north on State Route 18 for eight miles, turn left into the park, and continue 2.2 miles to the visitors center and campground. Here's a look at the park on Mapquest.

GPS coordinates:
N 37 12.168' W 113 38.390'

Contact: Snow Canyon State Park, 435/628-2255.

1 comment:

  1. Having said that Snow Canyon is why we're looking to move to the south west in the near future. Snow Canyon offers stunning...

    Brian Head Utah