We had traveled to southern Utah to see if it was possible enjoy Zion National Park without being overwhelmed by tourists (it is). When looking for alternative hiking options on a map, I spotted Snow Canyon State Park. A Google image search looked promising, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
Rain showers on the afternoon of our arrival in Zion gave us the excuse we needed, and we drove 45 minutes west just past the small city of St. George where the skies were clearer. Snow Canyon includes an impressive variety of geologic features including rust-colored petrified sand dunes, ancient lava flows and two multicolored sandstone canyons. There is a lot to see in a small area and the trails are not difficult, making it a great place to take the kids. We opted to walk a 5-mile loop starting at the rolling Petrified Dunes Trail, up West Canyon Road and back through the dark lava flows along the Butterfly Trail.
During our visit, the crowds were moderate and mostly local, but I wonder how long it will be until the secret is out. Pop star Katy Perry recently filmed a music video here, and the image of tiny hikers traversing distant petrified dunes makes for a great photograph.