Nature can be inconvenient, hiding its most amazing sites down long trails or off rocky cliffs.  While it’s been said ‘it’s the journey, not the destination’, the destination, the site, is what makes you to get out the door and the journey is what stands in your way.  Whatever has kept you from checking distant sites off your bucket list or taking in all that nature offers, it won’t stop you in St. George Utah. 

Here are the Top 7 Short Hikes with Big Payoffs:

Pioneer Park

This red rock park is one of the most easily accessible natural playgrounds on Earth, offering hiking, light climbing/bouldering, a cave, and some of the best views of St. George, and it’s all just feet from the parking lot.  It’s also home to one of the most accessible slot canyon hikes around, the St. George Narrows. 

1.) St George Narrows – Also known as the Red Crack, squeezing into nearly eight inches at it’s tightest point, this hike is short enough to go thorough several times.  With parking nearby, the entire experience can be just exploring the narrow divide.

Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon boasts tons of easy hiking trails in a geological setting similar to nearby Zion National Park.  While there are a number of short, accessible trails that lead to unique terrain, here are our top picks:

2.) The Sand Dunes – A short walk from the Pioneer Names parking area, the brush and rock of the canyon disappear beneath orange sand, reminiscent of the Sahara.

3.) The Petrified Dunes  – While part of a longer hike, parking just north of the Upper Galoot Picnic Area puts you within fifty yards of the wrinkled rock slabs, perfect for climbing across or photographing.

4.) Anasazi Petroglyphs – At around two miles round trip, this trail is the longest on our list, but the payoff is awesome, Native American petroglyphs.  Petroglyphs are created by carving into a rock’s face, and, unlike ancient cave painting that require protection, these are open to the public.  Here there are hundreds of etchings scattered across the rock faces.  When planning your trip, keep in mind that this hike is short but mainly uphill. 

5.) Gunlock Reservoir and Falls –Gunlock Reservoir is usually open for lakeside strolling, canoeing, and swimming, a nice contrast to the otherwise desert terrain.  However, the most unique part of this park is the waterfall; the reservoir’s overflow makes use of the natural formations surrounding the edge, creating waterfalls and pools when the water level is too high.  Gaging when to go can be tricky, but typically there is an overflow lasting a few days/weeks in mid to late May and after also sporadically following major rainstorms.

Zion National Park

While mainly known for its extreme hiking and backpacking, there are several short must-see hikes that are accessible to nearly everyone.  Our top picks for getting the biggest bang for your buck are:

6.) Weeping Rock – Only a half mile round trip hike from the bus stop or parking lot, this gently rising, paved trail leads up to a point where water seeps out of the rock face and falls down below.  Beneath the main section, you’ll be able to find a vista where visitors can stand behind the drizzle.

7.) Pa’rus Trail – Near the entrance to the park, this paved trail runs along the Virgin River, with easy access to wading areas.  If you are looking for something a bit longer, try the Riverside Walk at the far end of the Canyon, at a little over two miles round trip, it’s a paved, easy hike but a bit more time consuming.

Sponsored by St. George Tourism.