Utah State Parks: Snow Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and Goosenecks

Updated on January 5, 2017
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Go see, explore, take photos, and write it up! I love exploring places that I see on the Rand McNally Road Atlas or by serendipity.

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon is located outside of St. George, Utah and offers stunning scenery at the foot of the Pine Valley Mountains. This 7,400 acre park has sheer sandstone canyons, sand dunes, and lava flows and is a unique clash of sedimentary and igneous rock. Unusual wildlife includes the desert tortoise and gila monsters. Start your visit at the visitor center after paying the $6.00 entrance fee per vehicle (August 2016). There are a number of hiking trails to choose from and plenty of pullouts for photographs. Campsites are also available as well as picnic tables. If you are limited in time, the Butterfly Trail is a good option. A moderate two mile hike, this trail is a great cross-section of the park featuring petrified sand dunes and a glimpse at the lava tubes. Be prepared as temperatures can soar in the summer. Best times to visit are in the early morning and late evening, especially if you enjoy photography.

Petrified dunes at Snow Canyon State Park
Petrified dunes at Snow Canyon State Park | Source
Appraoching Snow Canyon State Park from the south entrance.
Appraoching Snow Canyon State Park from the south entrance. | Source

Other Points of Interest Near Snow Canyon State Park

Silver Reef City: Silver reef city is an abandoned mining town located just off I-15 north of St. George. At its height in 1879 the town supported 2,000 people and was originally 'staked' because a silver vein was found in sandstone, apparently the only place in the United States where this rarity occurred. This place includes about a half dozen buildings including a museum. Check the hours as they are limited. The site served as a backdrop for some of the scenes inThe Electric Horseman (1979). There is no entrance fee to drive or walk around the site.

Jacob Hamblin Home: Located on the outskirts of the leafy town of Santa Clara, the Jacob Hamblin home is owned and operated by the LDS Church and there is no entrance fee to this interesting historic home which housed the namesake pioneer. You are, however, required to take a tour which is short. The house was built in 1863 and contains many original furnishings.

Coyote Gulch Art Village: Not too far from Snow Canyon State Park is the trendy Coyote Gulch Art Village also known as Kayenta Art Village in Ivins, an enclave of small galleries and shops, where local artists showcase their work, much of it in the Native-American motif. The village features 11 galleries and a great restaurant/coffee shop. It is open to the public with no entrance fee.


Interior, Jacob Hamblin Home
Interior, Jacob Hamblin Home | Source
Building at Silver Reef, Utah
Building at Silver Reef, Utah | Source

Southern Utah State Parks

A
Snow Canyon State Park:
Snow Canyon State Park, 1002 Snow Canyon Dr, Ivins, UT 84738, USA

get directions

B
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park:
Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park, 12500 Sand Dune Road, Kanab, UT 84741, USA

get directions

C
Goosenecks State Park:
Goosenecks State Park, Utah 316, Mexican Hat, UT, USA

get directions

D
Silver Reef City, Utah:
Silver Reef, UT 84746, USA

get directions

E
Coyote Gulch Art Village 875 Coyote Gulch Court Ivins, UT 84738:
875 Coyote Gulch Ct, Ivins, UT 84738, USA

get directions

F
Moki Dugway, Utah:
Moki Dugway, Utah, USA

get directions

G
Jacob Hamblin Home, Santa Clara, Utah:
Santa Clara, UT, USA

get directions

Utah State Parks

Which park do you like the most?

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Utah State Parks

Park
Aprxm. Elevation
Best Time to Visit
Entrance Fee/Vehicle
Snow Canyon State Park
3,500 feet
fall and spring
$6
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
6,000 feet
spring, summer & fall (winters can be cold and windy)
$8
Goosenecks State Park
4,500 feet
anytime of year
$5 (cash only)
View of the Coyote Gulch Art Village, Ivins, Utah.
View of the Coyote Gulch Art Village, Ivins, Utah. | Source

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Clearly off the beaten path, this 3,730 acre park features red-orange sand dunes that are accessible by foot or OHV, The park entrance is $8.00 per vehicle (August 2016) and well worth the drive. Not too far from the east entrance of Zion National Park the Coral Pink Sand Dunes are a great for kids. The state park is reachable via US 89 on a trunk road between Mt. Carmel Junction and Kanab at the base of the Vermillion Cliffs. Roughly one-hundred feet high the dunes are constantly shifting and were formed when sand from the surrounding Navajo sandstone was deposited in a notch between two mountains. The elevation of the park is about 6,000 feet surrounded by pinyon pine forests. Other nearby interests include the South Fork Indian Canyon pictographs and Moqui Cave. Native to the dunes and found nowhere else in the world is the namesake Coral Pink Tiger Beetle.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park | Source

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah

The dunes at the park.
The dunes at the park. | Source

Goosenecks State Park

Despite limited facilities Goosenecks State Park arguably has one the best views in the state: this is a small park, only 10 acres, which affords exceptional views of the 1,000 foot deep meanders of the San Juan River. It's pretty much a pay-per-view park with limited facilities. Located off US 261 on Route 316 which dead-ends at the park, the Goosenecks are close to Monument Valley. It is open year round and it's a favorite among photographers especially in the winter. The entrance fee is $5.00 cash per car (August 2016) which leads to the overlooks. You can hike the rim but there are no trails to the bottom of the canyon. Picnic areas and toilet facilities are available as well. The best times of the day to visit are in the early morning and late afternoon when light reflects off the canyon walls or right after a snow fall when the snow layers the canyon's terraces. The canyon was cut by classic V river action and exposes 300 million years of geologic strata.

Looking down at the San Juan River from the Goosenecks overlook.
Looking down at the San Juan River from the Goosenecks overlook. | Source

Other Points of Interest Near the Goosenecks

Moki Dugway: An exceptionally scenic drive in the area is the Moki Dugway which follows an unpaved gravel road (Route 261) up a thousand foot cliff. Avoid the road during rain or snow and take caution as the road is narrow in places with a steep grades and without crash guards. The views from the top are exceptional. Route 261 continues north toward Natural Bridges National Monument.

Looking up at the Moki Dugway.  Not visible to the naked eye, a road climbs up this thousand foot cliff.
Looking up at the Moki Dugway. Not visible to the naked eye, a road climbs up this thousand foot cliff. | Source
Another view of the Goosenecks.
Another view of the Goosenecks. | Source

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