Southwest Desert Trip I: Snow Canyon

Jeremiah Johnson and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

A few years back, my old friend Dan and I headed north from Las Vegas in his one-half ton Chevy pickup with camper shell, camping gear and two bicycles. As some of you may recall, this is the same set-up used in our one-month trip to the Alaskan Interior. Over eight days we visited all five of the magnificent U.S. Parks in Utah and two very interesting state parks. 

After a short stop in Mesquite, we drove to Snow Canyon State Park, leaving the Mojave Desert behind and entering the Colorado Plateau. The Park lies a short distance north of St. George, Utah.

The Park is unique in that black basalt from lava flows is evident in places on top of the Navajo sandstone, the most prevalent rock of the Colorado Plateau. Many desert wildflowers were in bloom too. For those of you that are movie buffs, portions of Jeremiah Johnson (one of my favorites) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed in the Canyon.

Natural Arch

Petrified Dunes and Three Ponds Trails

While visiting the Park, I hiked the Petrified Dunes and Three Ponds Trails for a total of 6 1/2 miles. The burnt orange and creamy whites of the sand dunes have solidified into rock over the last 100 million years or so.

The geology was easy to see on the Petrified Dunes Trail. The other Trail led to the mouth of a 400-foot high slot canyon with a pothole eroded into the sandstone at the entrance to the canyon. Many desert creatures had been using the pothole as an oasis,  if the amount and variety of tracks visible in the sand were any indicator. 

We reluctantly left the Park in the late afternoon and drove to Panguitch, south of Bryce Canyon National Park, to spend the night. Saturday will be a fun day of exploration in Bryce.

Pothole in front of slot canyon

Desert Evening Primroses


Black basalt on top of sandstone

Navajo Sandstone behind blooming desert penstemons

Climbing the sandstone

Fellow hikers

Beavertail Cactus

Juniper tree growing from the cracks in the sandstone

Lots of places to explore

Rock climber’s heaven

On the road to Panguitch (a teaser for the upcoming sights in Bryce)

Categories: Desert Southwest OutingsTags: , ,

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: