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Don’t be too focused on Zion National Park when you book an RV in Washington County, Utah. There’s a state park nearby that’s not nearly as crowded, yet everyone who visits wonders why it’s not a national park. Snow Canyon State Park is one hour west of Zion, in St. George, and covers 7,400 acres of spectacular scenery. You can see sandstone cliffs, lava tubes, and petrified sand dunes, all while keeping an eye out for the endangered desert tortoise, canyon tree frogs, and peregrine falcons.
Despite its name, Snow Canyon State Park rarely sees any snow. It was named after two distantly related men with the last name of Snow, early pioneers and leaders in the Utah territory. Anasazi peoples originally occupied this land for nearly 1,000 years, eventually being followed by the more recent Paiute. It was founded as a state park in 1959 and has served as the backdrop for many Western movies. Only two hours from Las Vegas, it’s in a convenient location for anyone RV camping in the southwest desert.
Snow Canyon has over 38 miles of hiking trails for you to explore. Routes of varying difficulty and length will take you through all of Snow Canyon’s diverse, colorful scenery. The two-and-a-half-mile Lava Flow Trail takes you across the 30,000-year-old lava field, and from there you can continue on the one-mile Petrified Dunes Trail or the four-mile Whiterocks Trail. This is just an example of the landscape diversity that you can experience in minutes. There's also one three-mile paved trail that's open to both walking and bicycling. In addition to these hiking trails, Snow Canyon is also popular for road cycling, and also has 16 miles of equestrian trails.
Rock climbing and scrambling are also world-class in Snow Canyon State Park. Scrambling is only allowed in designated areas, including the petrified dunes and Whiterocks. There are also 170 designated climbing routes throughout Snow Canyon for climbers of all abilities. Some of the routes are open seasonally, and a small percentage of them require a permit.
You don’t have to be an avid hiker or rock climber to have fun while RV camping at Snow Canyon State Park. When the conditions are right, you can enjoy the wildflowers without leaving your car. The same can be said for photography in general; Snow Canyon is extremely popular with photographers thanks to the vivid color palette, views, and fascinating geology. Wildlife and nature photographers always come back with great photos, too. If you need a little help in finding the best place for photography, you can participate in guided hikes that take place day and night.
You’ll find a mix of back-in and pull-through sites at the Snow Canyon State Park campground. The maximum RV length is 40 feet. There are 33 sites in total; 14 are dedicated RV sites with electric and water hookups, while the rest don’t have hookups. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table. Other campground amenities include flushing toilets, showers, and a dump station.
Snow Canyon State Park's RV campground is open year-round, though parts of the park are only open seasonally. The campground is situated at the base of the sandstone cliffs, and you'll probably want to get a site directly against the cliffs. These sites offer shade and privacy with the desert vegetation. Most other sites are out in the open and provide little shade or privacy. Your pets are allowed in the campground, and on some of the trails as well.
This corner of the desert where the Mojave, Colorado Plateau, and Great Basin converge makes for some fantastic exploration in an RV. The most popular attraction near Snow Canyon State Park is Zion National Park, 50 miles to the east. After exploring Zion, you can head further east to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, south to the Grand Canyon, or north to Salt Lake City. You definitely have some difficult decisions to make, but you can’t go wrong with any of them year round. With Interstate 15 nearby, you’ll have a perfect opportunity to refuel and provision before heading wherever you decide to go RV camping next.
Snow Canyon State Park borders the city of St. George, one of Utah's most photogenic towns. There's always something going on that you'll want to participate in. There's an exciting marathon in the fall, art festivals in the spring, and numerous concerts and outdoor activities in the summer. St. George, despite being in the middle of the desert, has some outstanding international cuisine to choose from. Local fare includes excellent choices for traditional American comfort food. Be sure to check out the calendar for the Tuacahn Center for the Arts while you’re there. This spectacular outdoor amphitheater is reminiscent of Red Rocks in Colorado and hosts some wonderful events.