Utah State Park: Snow Canyon, Petrified Dunes

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One of our favorite hikes at Snow Canyon State Park was the Petrified Dunes. When you think of hiking red rock terrain, this is what comes to mind.  Stair like sandstone formations create endless hills and valleys to explore. Tenatious desert plants, like sagebush and cactus, cling to life in the crevices. Lizards dart across the way and the world around you is the color of fire.

The trail from the parking area to the dunes is short, sandy and clearly marked.  Once you’re on the dunes, however, the rock surface hides any semblance of a trail, so we just picked a direction and climbed a while. Big E needed help up the steeper sections of rock, but did great over all. Another mom commented, “He’s like a mountain goat, the way he scrambles up the rocks.”

Little g was held by me constantly, mostly because she cried when I tried to put her in the hiking pack or down to walk on her own. The hike is only about a mile round trip and was easy, even with young children, assuming your young children don’t go to the very top of the dunes. If your preschooler is anything like Big E, however, you will be climbing to the very top. He wasn’t about to let the big kids have all the fun. I was nervous about him slipping off from way up high, but luckily his aunt held tight to his hand the whole way.

We visited the Petrified Dunes in the evening, to enjoy the sunset and the cooler temperatures. The watercolor sky was truly a sight to behold. The red rocks lit up with golden light until night slowly overtook it all. It was a beautiful scene, but once we were plunged into darkness the absence of a marked trail was scary.

After the light faded, scrambling on the rocks was a whole different adventure. I was grateful for the key chain flashlight hooked to my keys, and for the headlamps of my fellow hikers.  Without them, I would’ve fallen several times with little g in tow. The trail was completely lost to us in the dark. We moved slowly down the rocks, choosing our foot placement carefully. We walked in the general direction of the road, took a few detours, but eventually found a safe route back to our cars. 
Even in the dark, the trail was fun. So fun, in fact, that we returned during daylight hours to explore even more.  Snow Canyon State Park Petrified Dunes hike was a fun place to play with kids of all ages.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

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