Snow Canyon Trail Rides

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Snow Canyon Trail RidesHorseback Riding in Snow Canyon State Park

By: Bobby Christian 5/28/2014

Purple and white lines trace the red canyon walls on the eastern rim of Snow Canyon State Park, disappearing where the burnt orange slickrock crawls across the valley floor, mixing with the sand and brush. Even my horse thinks it’s beautiful; he hasn’t stopped to chew on grass even once, keeping his head pointed toward the bone-white mountain ahead. 

It’s been said that if Zion were not so close, Snow Canyon would have been made a National Park. Snow Canyon State Park shares many of the land formations that make Zion so impressive, while offering even more beginner and easy hiking trails, allowing visitors of all hiking levels to wind along and through the canyon walls.

Already during my trip here I’ve explored the sand dunes and some of the pocketed rock formations in the south end of the park on foot, so change my pace and take a horseback ride out across the white rock lining the park’s opposite side with Snow Canyon Trails.

My ride begins by crossing from the canyon’s eastern rim to descend into the northern valley along portions of the White Rocks Trail. As we head across a long section of the part, the terrain varies between sandy trails, minor up and down hill climbing, and even some open-face rock walking.  Along the way, the plants, which start out as low brush, grow to be taller than me, and the rock landscape changes from red to white.


Throughout the ride, I am surrounded by amazing sights: the deep canyon from above, the soaring walls from below, and up-close views of the valley floor.  My horse is easy to manage, needing only the occasional nudge to avoid branches and never pausing to nibble on grass. That means I spend most of the two and a half hour ride watching the scenery, not tugging on the reigns.

It’s an easy trail, manageable for kids or novice riders. While this visit took me along the park’s northern end, Snow Canyon Trail Rides moves its route throughout the year to avoiding crowds and uncomfortable temperatures, so visitors are advised to call in advance and find out whether the horses are currently trekking a favorite route.

Snow Canyon Trail Rides

At the halfway point, we are perfectly perched among rippling white rock, red walls towering in the background.  Unlike Zion, Snow Canyon is a very wide canyon, letting even amateur photographers land epic shots, with the valley floor framed between the canyon.

Our guide is a real cowboy, and, having grown up not far away, answers our questions about the history of the canyon and tells us about the unseen tortoises and foxes that roam the park. He chats even as our line of horses stretches out, pointing out the plants and flowers, and crumbling up wild sage for us each to sniff.  Yet on a ride this long there is still plenty of time to relax into the saddle with the wind blowing across my face and the only sound being the scuffle of horseshoes scratching on the rock.

Snow Canyon Trail Rides

Snow Canyon Trail Ride

By: Lyssa Griffin Zwolanek 9/30/2013


Almost forgot to share these photos from our horseback excursion during the week of Founder's Circle 2013. A small group of us went on a trail ride up the backside of a mountain overlooking gorgeous Snow Canyon, Utah. The weather could not have been more perfect, and the views were well worth being a little saddle-sore the next day. The horses were extremely well-behaved and sure-footed, and our guide Matthew was chatty and knowlegable.

Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides

I can almost smell the sage... I grew up in Wyoming, so Utah feels very like home to me. I love the West! So thankful that Stampin' Up sends me to Utah at least once per year. As if Convention wasn't enough of a draw : )

Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides

Snow Canyon Trail RidesSea of Sage

Riding through Utah’s Dixie
At Snow Canyon State Park.

By: Darley Newman 08/25/2009

Go trail riding in Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah, and you’ll be riding through Utah’s Dixie.
When Brigham Young called upon the 300-plus families to help with the Cotton Mission, they did not go happily. “I have seen faces look as long as a sectarian parson’s face,” reported church leader George A. Smith. But Young hoped their efforts would help alleviate the cotton shortage back East due to the Civil War. In October 1861, the Mormons founded a city north of the junction at the Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers, which they named St. George after their leader.

Erastus Snow led the charge for the Cotton Mission from his base in St. George, and the park’s name was changed from Dixie State Park to Snow Canyon State Park in honor of him.

The park sometimes gets missed for the grander Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Zion National Parks, but it’s worth the trip because of its striking scenery and because of outfitter Patty Arnett’s Olympic trail horses.

As I rode out from our meeting point on Itos, an 18-year-old dark bay Dutch Warmblood, I could feel that I was on a special horse. Itos, the father of all of the horses that our small group was riding, placed eighth in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He’s one of Patty’s well-bred horses that visiting riders can mount if they explore the park with Patty.

We rode by towering white and red Navajo sandstone canyons, juxtaposed with dark lava rocks, which attracted Paiute and Anasazi Indians, Mormon settlers and Hollywood filmmakers. It also attracts distinctive wildlife, like the Peregrine Falcon, leopard lizards, gopher snakes and the giant desert hairy scorpion, said to be the largest scorpion in North America. Upon learning of that fact, I was glad that I wouldn’t be camping out in the park.

As we rode along a rocky portion of the trail, Patty told me that we were passing over an area where lava once flowed 2.5 million years ago. All around us were desert plants and wildflowers. The neat thing about riding in Snow Canyon is that as the sun moves across the sky, it illuminates different aspects of the canyon walls; the scenery constantly changes as new colors are brought to life.

All along the ride, Patty and I used our imagination to see what we could find within the sandstone walls. We spotted rock formations that looked like bears, the gopher from Caddy Shack and an eagle head. We must have had wildlife on the brain, as we approached an area with falcon nests in the crux of a rock wall. For bird watchers, this is a highlight of the ride.

What’s most interesting about riding through Snow Canyon is its geological diversity. I suppose this is why it would be a good place to film a show like mine, and Hollywood movies of the past. The Electric Horseman, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Jeremiah Johnson are some of the famous Westerns that filmed scenes in Snow Canyon. As someone who does a lot of filming on horseback, I could imagine the drama as Paul Newman and Robert Redford navigated through the sand at Snow Canyon in the beginning of the chase scene in Butch Cassidy, when their characters Butch and Cassidy keep looking back to ask, “Who are those guys?”

As we continued our trek, the rocky footing changed abruptly to fine, deep sand trails. “Yeah, we call this the Utah Beach. Instead of having ocean, we have a sea of sage,” Patty jokes. Unlike the beach, I was enjoying the fact that the park wasn’t crowded. We hadn’t seen any other riders on the trail that day or any other people at all. Perhaps it wasn’t so bad that everyone was flocking to Bryce and Zion, leaving the small, but satisfying Snow Canyon all to us. We rode through a sandy wash and were lucky enough to see a beautiful white flower blooming in the crux of the rock wall. I find it amazing that such delicate things like the roots of a small flower can take hold and thrive in such harsh environments. This is the power of nature.

We climbed up to a high spot to enjoy views of the north end of the park with its pink and white canyons in the distance. As we rested there, I thought about the Mormons who unhappily headed to their mission. If only they could have seen the beauty that is Utah’s Dixie today.

Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides

Just wanted to mention we really enjoyed the trip! Thanks for the arrangement.

Our guide is a really nice guy. Attached some photos of his, "Just another day at the office."

We had a lovely day, with a nice guide and well maintained horses.

Thanks again.

Renée and Paul

Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides


I had the pleasure of meeting you and riding with you on 3/26. My sister Agnes lives in Ivins. We had a great time with you!!!! We are already planning a return trip with some friends and are looking forward to another tour with you. My husband was the one singing I'm an old cow hand from the Rio Grande!!! 1st time on a horse and he has told everyone what a great time it was. So please feel free to use this post on your web!!! Can't wait to see you all again!!!!! Thanks again for making our tour so much fun!!!


Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides

Thanks Again . . .

For the great ride we had yesterday - my wife said it was one of her best birthday presents she ever got - we had lots of fun.

Will be seeing you after the New Year when our friends start visiting us!

Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides
Snow Canyon Trail Rides