There a lesser known hike just an hour or so away from Zion called Red Mountain, that if you’re looking to spice up your Zion trip with at least one adventure that is outside of the park, then this would be it. It’s a hike that will take you the better part of a day (6 – 8 hrs), but will offer some of the better views you can find in southern Utah.
It’s a hike that takes you over the ridgeline of Snow Canyon State Park. You can find Snow Canyon just slightly north west of St George, and is one of the most popular state parks in the area. And that’s for good reason, it’s incredibly beautiful, and has really simple access as well.
Snow Canyon is a great place for a lot of different reasons, first and foremost there’s something for everyone. There are picnic areas, camp sites, a sand dune hill, and more. If you’re looking for somewhere to spend a couple hours with little kids it’s a great place, because just a steps away are some safe, and fun rocks to climb on.
For those looking for a little harder, and more rewarding of an adventure, then hiking the Red Mountain trail is it. Now I have to begin with the cautionary tale, Washington Country Search and Rescue have had numerous rescues from this area in the past few months alone, not because it’s terribly difficult, but because they have the wrong information.
The trail is only market to a point, and then you’re bushwacking. There is no marked trail after you get on the white rocks, so read up on all of the details about how to hike it, and how to get down from it. And it isn’t just a short hike, if you knew where you were going and hiking hard you could do it in 4 hours. But when I did it, it took me 6 – 7 hours to complete it.
The trail begins at the same place as the Snow Canyon Overlook trail, just before Dammeron Valley. Here you’ll follow a well marked path until the trail splits, and going left takes you to the overlook, and right takes you to the Red Mountain Trail.
Before long you’ll get off the trail to hike down to the white rocks, and the ridge line. Here is where the beauty of the area will take your breath away. You’ll not only have views down into Snow Canyon and beyond, but the rock formations, and rocks up on top are so beautiful.
My favorite part of the hike are the rock pools that fill up with water and can’t escape. They really add for a unique and interesting experience hiking. One that you won’t regret taking.
The exit off of the plateau is through a place called Gunsite, which looks exactly like it sounds. Here you’ll be greeted with a view down into Ivins and St George that is one of the best in the entire area. Now my last caution is the decent down Gunsite is quite treacherous and straight down, so if you have knee problems I would suggest finding the secondary exit into Ivins.