Looking for the best hikes near St. George? I’ve got a lot of great suggestions for you – read on for details.
If you’re wanting to do some great hiking in the Southwest, St. George is a fantastic place to base yourself, as there are dozens of engaging and beautiful trails to discover in the area.
Located in the very corner of Utah, right on the border of Arizona and Nevada, St. George has great proximity to many state parks, national conservation areas, and national parks. Beyond that, there are tons of beautiful hikes not associated with any state or national area, but are still gorgeous and definitely worth your time.
All of the hikes on this list are within 1.5 hours (usually less!) of St. George, so these are all easy hikes to do if you’re staying in or near St. George, Utah. The hikes on this list are divided up into regions to make it easier to get a sense of where everything is, and to plan for several hikes close to each other.
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Hikes Near St. George in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
Red Cliffs Conservation Area is a fairly large area of land (about 44,000 acres) just to the north of St. George. The area is famous for red and white rocks and beautiful vistas, and has some excellent hiking opportunities in it.
1. The Vortex
35 minutes north of St. George, The Vortex Trail (also known as Lower Sand Cove Trail or “The Bowl”), is a super cool trail that takes you to a sinkhole formation known as the Vortex.
While the hike starts on a sandy/dirt trail, the path quickly transitions to being exclusively on this cool, checkerboard sandstone rock. Some of the rock was white, while much of it was orange or red as it takes you through the hills and mountain.
The trail mostly takes you straight up the hills and into the mountain. When you reach the final ridge, you’ll be looking down over a bowl area that has a drop off over the valley.
Here, you’ll actually make a sharp almost 180 degree hook, and go up the top ridge to see the two sinkholes. When I was there, the first sinkhole was filled with water, and the second sinkhole was mostly dry. The sinkhole is much deeper than it appears in photos!
Personally, I felt that the the Vortex rock formation itself was fine, but the real fun part of this hike is the trail itself and all of the interesting and cool rock formations that you get to climb and scramble on.
Although the hike is very fun, the path itself is very poorly marked. I would recommend having AllTrails Pro on this trail, as you can track your progress against the marked trail, and the app alerts you when you’ve gone off-trail.
Trailhead Information: The trailhead is accessible via a gravely road right off of Highway 18. While the road is unpaved, it is easy enough to drive through on any kind of vehicle.
There is no fee or posted hours to park or hike the Vortex trail.
- Distance: 2.3 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 524 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
2. Red Reef Trail
This is a gorgeous trail with a ton of wow and fun factor. You start hiking towards a canyon, and quickly come up to a stream. This stream enters and then follows a fairly narrow canyon as it twists around, with a few extremely picturesque waterfalls.
This hike is very family friendly, but there are a couple of spots where you have to cross the stream by jumping between rocks, and a spot where a small waterfall comes down and you have to climb up the cliff side by using handholds and footholds to scale. You’re not high up at all, so it’s not dangerous.
The canyon walls are deep red, there’s a little cave you can explore. The canyon walls undulate quite a bit, which creates a lot of visual interest and little spots to explore. This is a fantastic, yet easy hike to do near St. George.
- Entrance fee: $6/vehicle. Note that parking can be limited, especially on weekends.
- Distance: 2.2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 219 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
3. Elephant Arch Trail
Elephant Arch Trail is a fun hike through a sandy path that arrives at a rocky outcropping with an arch that resembles an elephant’s head and trunk.
The first part of the hike is down to and through a dry riverbed. Then you turn off into an outcropping of rocks, and start hiking through a canyon area. Because this is a very sandy path, the hike is quite a bit more difficult than if you were just hiking on packed dirt or rock.
Elephant Arch is located in the middle of a rocky cliff, and really impressive – it definitely looks like an elephant! You can actually climb up on the rocks right around the arch, and up and behind the arch, and there are some fun little spots to explore (just don’t climb on the arch!)
We actually thought that the view from behind the arch looking back to the valley looked even more like an elephant.
To reach the trailhead, you’ll need to drive offroad for several minutes to reach the trailhead, but it should be accessible for most cars (low riding cars will have an issue, since there are some bumps).
There will be a long line of cars parked on the side of the road, and then a gate where the trail starts. Google Maps said we could drive farther, but this parking “lot” is as far as you can go. (The AllTrails app was was accurate for where the trail actually started.)
- Distance: 3.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 341 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
4. Pioneer Park
Pioneer Park is a cool area right on the edge of St George that is full of fun caves, inlets, and erosion spots. Most people come here to just explore all the ins and outs of the rocks.
There’s one spot here labeled the “Pioneer Park Narrows” and it’s an extremely thin, extremely straight slot canyon that takes you from the ground to the top of the rocks. This is definitely a spot you’ll need to squeeze through going sideways – I barely fit!
At the top, you can walk around and explore, or there’s a trail you can follow that makes a loop around the park. If you don’t want to squeeze through the slot canyon but still want to hike the loop, you there are other access points up to the top.
Between the easy accessibility and the multiple areas to play in, climb on, and explore, this is a very popular with families. There are no entrance fees for Pioneer Park.
- Distance: 1.3 mile loop
- Elevation Gain: 121 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
5. Kanarra Falls Trail
Kanarra Falls isn’t actually in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, but it’s fairly close to it, and doesn’t have another section that it fits nicely into, so we’re including it here.
Kanarra Falls is a privately owned trail about 45 minutes north of St. George. On this hike, you’ll start hiking near a stream, crossing it several times. Later in the hike, you’ll be hiking directly in the stream.
The stream eventually enters a beautiful slot canyon, with several waterfalls. There are ladders placed to the side of the waterfalls so you can climbl up and still continue on the trail.
This hike costs $12 per person, and is limited to 150 hikers per day. It is highly recommended to buy permits online in advance, as they regularly sell out weeks in advance during the warmer months.
Hikes Near St. George in Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park is a stunning area in the Red mountains that features red-orange and white sandstone, and the remains of the Santa Clara volcano. It’s only 17 minutes from St. George, Utah.
Entrance to Snow Canyon costs $10 for Utah residents and $15 for non-residents, and a pass is valid for one day.
6. Scout Cave
The Scout Cave Trail is a fun, easy trail with a lot of visual interest that ends at a photogenic cave. Scout Cave itself is a medium-sized cave with a teardrop opening and views over the valley.
After walking through a lava field, you descend into the canyon and hike along the cliff face for about a mile. The majority of the elevation gain occurs at the end, when you climb up from the canyon floor to the cave.
Because this trail is at the very southern end of Snow Canyon, for the last 1/3 of the hike you’re actually walking by buildings in the city. It’s kind of funny because on the left side you look and it’s all nature and “wilderness”, but turn to the right side and you can see city right there. In fact the view out of Scott Cave does show you part of the city as well as nature areas. Still, the hike is calm and beautiful.
Overall, it’s a easy and pretty trail, with a lot of fun factor, especially with the pretty cave at the end. Personally, I think it’s one of the best hikes right in St. George.
Trailhead Information: The official trailhead and parking lot is technically just barely outside the state park fee station. However, there are signs saying that it is still part of the state park and instruct you how to pay your entrance fee online.
You can also swing up to the fee booth that’s just 30 yards away and pay your fee there. Note that the parking lot feeds several trails and can fill up, particularly on weekends.
- Distance: 4.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: 613 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
7. Lava Caves
The Lava Flow Trail in Snow Canyon takes you through fields of lava flow and lava rocks to 3 different and extremely cool lava caves. The stark black rocks make for such an interesting landscape, and contrast nicely with the surrounding orange mountains.
The third and last lava cave is by far the coolest, and definitely the most accessible one to explore. You’ll climb down into this depression, and then into the opening on the far side of the rocks.
The opening is easy to walk through, and you can explore further into the cave from there. While it’s not super deep, you can go in far enough that you will definitely need a light (the back of the cave is very dark). I had a headlamp in my backpack and wore that, which was a much better option than the phone flashlight that most people were using.
The cave’s interior is fairly uneven, thanks to all the large rocks and boulders that fill it, so you’ll get to climb and scramble all over.
Many people decide to turn back after Lava Cave #3, but the trail does continue farther. There are some beautiful red, orange, and white rocks along the trail as it goes away from the lava fields and through desert brush. The trail officially ends right at the base of the mountain at West Canyon Trail.
This is a really fun and pretty unique hike near St. George, since the hike includes exploring actual lava caves!
8. Hidden Pinyon Trail
Hidden Pinyon Trail is just a fun hike, plain and simple. This trail takes you right in and through boulders and the orange rocks, and there are some spots that the trail is a bit narrow as it passes right by the hills and boulders. There are some opportunities to climb and scramble on the rocks and mountains.
The views you get over to the mountains from the path are phenomenal. This hike is exciting enough for adults but easy enough for kids, and is a really spectacular hike very close to St. George.
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation Gain: 299 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
9. Petrified Sand Dunes
The Petrified Sand Dunes trail is one of the most interesting trails in Snow Canyon, as you are walking across dune after “dune” of rocks that used to be sand dunes. The hike starts off on actual sand, then quickly detours onto these rocks, where layers and layers of thin rock stack on each other and slant on their side.
This is such a fun hike, as you’re just hiking over the curves and domes of the rock, and most of the time there’s not a set path. There are trail markers to help guide you, though, so keep your eye out for the round balls on the ground with painted arrows.
The official trail ends at a 4 way junction with other trails, and you can continue straight to the Petrified Sand Dunes Overlook. The overlook is on a craggy hill and right up near the other mountains and hills – the views are fantastic.
- Distance: 1.6 miles, plus another ~1/4 mile to the overlook
- Elevation Gain: 240 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
Read the Dedicated Post: 9 Incredible Hikes in Snow Canyon State Park
Hikes Near St. George in Zion National Park
Just under an hour from St. George, Zion National Park is full of incredible hikes and beautiful landscapes. If you’re visiting St. George, Zion should definitely be on your short list of places to go and see.
The entrance fee for Zion National Park is $35, which is valid for 7 days. Otherwise, you can purchase the America the Beautiful Pass for $80, which lets you into all sites in the National Park System free for one year.
10. The Narrows
The Narrows is an incredible bucket list slot canyon hike near St. George. You’ll start by hiking 1 mile on the paved Riverside Trail, and then leave the path and start hiking IN the river. The water is anywhere from ankle to waist deep, but for the most part the water stays under knee level.
The river you’re hiking through is lined by tall, orange, undulating canyon walls, and the canyon does narrow the farther you hike. The narrowest section is at “Wall Street”, where the walls get quite tight and the canyon walls are even more pocked and eroded.
The trail officially ends at Big Springs, but to reach here you’ll actually have to swim through some sections, as the water gets quite deep. Most people just hike up a section of the Narrows and turn around when they are tired.
The Narrows is very popular to hike during the warmer summer months, but if you want to have the canyon basically all to yourself, consider hiking the Narrows in winter.
- Distance: 9 miles if you go all the way to Big Springs. It’s 6 miles RT if you go to Wall Street
- Elevation: 695 feet if you go all the way to Big Springs
- Difficulty: Medium
11. Angel’s Landing
Angel’s Landing is one of the THE top adventure hikes in the United States, and is the most popular hike in Zion National Park.
After a relatively straightforward hike that switchbacks on the side of the mountain and through a canyon, you reach the spine of Angel’s Landing (also known as the Hogsback). This is the part of the trail that is extremely narrow, with tall, sheer cliffs on either side of the path. At some points, the path is only a few feet wide!
As scary as it looks, hiking through here is actually pretty safe, as there are poles and chains set up from here to the summit. It’s an absolutely exhilarating hike, with incredible panoramic views at the top.
This hike currently requires a permit to hike, and there’s a lottery that you need to enter to try for a permit. You can apply several months ahead of time in the Seasonal Lottery, or the day ahead of time in the Day Before Lottery. Get more information about the Angel’s Landing lottery and permits here.
- Distance: 4.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate
12. Canyon Overlook Trail
Canyon Overlook is a short but surprisingly exciting trail (you are walking along the side of a cliff most of the time ) up to an incredible overlook over Zion National Park. To be honest, I think the views here are pretty comparable to the views you get at the top of Angel’s Landing, but without the crazy chain hike or required permit.
The other fun part of Canyon Overlook is that the overlook area is quite big and there area lot of big boulders to climb and scramble on. You can spend a decent bit of time exploring the overlook area. Parking for Canyon Overlook is found just on the side of the road.
- Distance: 1 mile
- Elevation Gain: 187 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
13. Taylor’s Creek Trail (Kolob Canyon)
Kolob Canyon is a bit of a hidden gem in what is otherwise a very well-known national park. While it is still part of Zion National Park, the entrance to Kolob Canyon is an approximately 45 minute drive from the main entrance of Zion, and only 30 minutes from St. George. Kolob Canyon is really lovely – there are multiple peaks and valleys among the orange rocks.
Possibly the best hike in Kolob Canyon is the Taylor’s Creek Trail, which starts near the mountains, and heads into a canyon. As you hike, the mountain walls grow taller alongside you. What makes this hike particularly fun is that you cross Taylor’s Creek more than 12 times. It’s a shallow creek and there are rocks that you can easily hop between.
Taylor’s Creek was a super picturesque hike with the beginning of the hike being rather flat, but it gets hillier the farther you go in. At the end of the hike you are rewarded with a double arch in the canyon wall.
- Distance: 4.9 miles
- Elevation Gain: 590 feet
- Difficulty: Moderate-strenuous
Read the Dedicated Post: 7 Best Hikes in Zion National Park, Ranked
Hikes Near St. George in Kanab, Utah
Kanab is about 1.5 hours from St. George, and it offers several fun hikes to do in southern Utah. All of these hikes are free to do.
14. Moqui Sand Caves
The Moqui Sand Caves are a cool, manmade spot just north of Kanab, Utah. These caves are actually the “ruins” of a sand mine that operated in the 1900’s. Parking for the sand caves is off of Highway 89, on Angel Canyon Road. From here, you’ll hike through the sand, just past the caves up above, to where there’s a steep, rocky cliff face.
You’ll need to scale up this rocky “wall” to reach the caves, but be careful! This area is actually pretty steep and slippery and there’s not a marked trail, so wear your most grippy shoes and choose your footing carefully.
When you reach the caverns, there’s a long tunnel to explore with several arched openings overlooking the valley.
- Distance: 1.4 miles
- Elevation Gain: 124 feet
- Difficulty: Easy-moderate
15. Belly of the Dragon
Belly of the Dragon is a short but exciting little hike near Kanab. This manmade, old drainage tunnel is only about 100 yards long, but looks like you’re walking through the intestines of a large creature. The entrance requires a little bit of a scramble up some rocks to start.
The trail does continue past the tunnel, although most people just go through the tunnel and come back.
- Distance: ~100 yards
- Elevation Gain: Minimal
- Difficulty: Very easy
16. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
The sand dunes are some of the most unique in the world, with a stunning color and extra fine, powdery sand. You can explore as much or as little as you like, a fairly large area of dunes as well as forests to explore. Many animals make this area their home, so watch the sand for cool tracks!
- Difficulty: Medium – hiking dunes is always harder than you think.
Hikes Near St. George in Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is a beautiful area in Nevada, just off of I-15 and 1.5 hours from St. George. This park is full of stunning, fiery red mountains and large boulders, with a handful of hikes that definitely would be worth making a day trip from St. George.
Valley of Fire has a daily entrance fee of $15 per vehicle for out of state vehicles, and $10 per vehicle for Nevada residents.
17. Fire Wave Trail
The Fire Wave Trail takes you to the Fire Wave, an incredible rock formation with bands of red, light pink, orange, and cream swirling around each other. And while the Fire Wave is the most stunning part of this hike, the entire area around the Fire Wave is filled with beautiful formations of multi-colored rocks.
Make sure that you explore and climb around the whole area to really see and appreciate the amazing colors in the rocks! This is a great alternative if you aren’t able to get permits to do “The Wave.” (the Wave is a popular hike to an incredible rock formation with swirling colors. It is also insanely difficult to get permits for the hike, as less than a hundred people are allowed in per day out of the hundreds that apply).
- Distance: 1.5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 236 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
18. Pinnacles Trail
Pinnacles Trail is a bit of a hidden gem hike in Valley of Fire. It’s technically an unofficial trail and doesn’t appear on any park maps, but it is on AllTrails, and the trail is marked.
To do this hike, you’ll want to park at the Atlatl Rock parking lot. Hike out of the parking lot and cross the street towards the scrubby desert land – you’ll see a a sign that says Pinnacles Trail, with an obvious trail starting. This hike is a loop, and you’ll want to follow the trail markers clockwise.
This hike is a decent bit of work to get to the payoff, as you’ll hike for about 2 miles through the flat, scrubby, and barren desert landscape until you see some of Valley of Fire’s characteristic round orange boulders rising up in the distance. That’s the Pinnacles section!
This area is absolutely gorgeous, with tall, spire-like rocks and plenty of places to scramble around and play. If you hike straight through, this section only lasts for about 0.5 miles, but it’s a stunner.
Then, you have another 2 miles to hike back through the desert landscape. The second half of the loop is much less well-marked than the first half, and I had a hard time staying on the right path. For this reason, I would highly recommend you download and use AllTrails Pro, which will track your location relative to the trail, and alert you if you go off path.
Overall, Pinnacles is a long walk for just a short cool section, but dang the Pinnacles section is pretty. If you want to see some BEAUTIFUL rocks with no one else around and don’t mind the hike out to get there, this is a great trail for you.
- Distance: 4.8 miles
- Elevation Gain: 429 feet
- Difficulty: Medium
19. White Domes Trail
White Domes is a popular hike in Valley of Fire, and is named for the big, round, light colored rocks at the beginning of the trail.
This trail is fun for a few reasons. Beyond the namesake domes, you’ll also see multi-colored rocks and even some striated rocks throughout the trail. Some rocks even had a purple tint to them!
This hike takes you down through a canyon, including a small section of tight, slot canyon! The slot part is short, maybe only 200 yards, but it is still very cool and adds a nice “flavor” to the hike.
- Distance: 1.1 miles
- Elevation Gain: 177 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
Read the Dedicated Post: 20 Incredible Things to Do in Valley of Fire
Hikes Near St George in Cathedral Gorge State Park
Cathedral Gorge State Park is an EXTREMELY off the beaten path park in Nevada – for 85% of the time I was, I was quite literally the only person in the park. (The park is small and the parking lot was visible from several different areas).
This beautiful gem of a state park is located about 1.5 hours from St. George and has several hikes you should consider doing!
Cathedral Gorge has an entrance fee of $5/vehicle.
20. Miller Point Trail
Millers Point Trail is definitely the most stunning hike in Cathedral Gorge – you can’t miss it! It leaves the parking lot, follows a path on open ground, and then enters this super cool canyon with a ton of visual interest, ridges, and spires on the cliffs. The path weaves its way through a river wash, and the walls of the canyon are pretty close to you.
After a quarter mile, you’ll come to a bridge, and then a staircase, that takes you up to the top of the canyon wall. The views from the staircase are the best views in the park, as the combination of close canyon walls, heavy erosion patterns, spires and pinnacles in front of you, and the winding path is all very picturesque.
- Distance: 1 mile round trip from the main parking lot
- Elevation Gain: 112 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
21. Moon Slots
Moon Slot Canyons (also known as Moon Caves) is an area of the ridgeline in Cathedral Gorge that has dozens of short paths through the extremely tall and extremely narrow fins and spires of the canyon.
If you’re using AllTrails, it will show you one specific canyon path as being “Moon Caves”, but there are so many little slot canyon trails to discover. Don’t worry too much about which canyon you’re in, it’s fun to just walk along the base of the cliff and explore all the little, meandering slot canyons that have been created in the rock.
Read the Dedicated Post: 10 Great Things to Do in Cathedral Gorge State Park
My Favorite Hiking Gear I Always Use
These are a few of my favorite hiking clothing and gear that I wear or bring with us on hikes all the time!
Good sunscreen: The sun is intense in southern Utah, and so lathering up with sunscreen is important for any hiking day.
This sunscreen is THE BEST. A tube lasts forever, and its not super thick and gloopy, and rubs in extremely easily, and lasts for a long time. I used to only like the aerosal sunscreens because I thought they were so much more convenient, but this sunscreen has me converted.
Sunscreen stick: For faces, we always use this sunscreen stick. It spreads on smoothly and is super handy for getting around all the little contours of the face.
Portable Power Bank: This is an essential piece of gear for any travel day. You’ll certainly take plenty of pictures and videos as you explore the stunning scenery in Arches, and you don’t want your phone to die! This power bank charges 4 times and tells you the exact percentage of power left in the bank.
Athletic Tees: These tees are great for exercising or hiking days. They are slightly boxy, breathable and wickable, making them really comfortable even in hot days. They’re also perfect for days when you want to protect your shoulders from the sun.
Athletic Tanks: These tanks are BOMB! Like the tees, they’re breathable and wickable and don’t cling to my body. They’re not cropped, but not too long either. I always feel great wearing these when we’re hiking. Bonus – they’re also extremely affordable!
Athletic Shorts: I’ve tried out a lot of athletic shorts, and these are my favorite for exercising and hiking! They have a 5 inch inseam (not too short, not too long), zipper pockets, a mesh liner, and are just so dang comfortable. These are the shorts I’m always reaching for first!
Sports Bras: This 3 pack of sports bras is so comfortable and supportive, which is perfect for days full of hitting the trails. After trying a whole bunch of sports bras, these are my favorites!
Black Leggings: When hiking in cooler weather, I always wear these thick, stretchy, high waisted black leggings. These are my favorite kind of leggings – I don’t wear anything else!
Lightweight Puffer Jacket: This jacket is surprisingly warm for how light and small it is, and is a great option for hiking during cold or cooler weather. I found that this works well with a sweatshirt underneath for temps around 30-60 degrees F.
Camelbaks: These backpacks are perfect for carrying a lot of water comfortably on your back, and the little straw allows you to drink easily without taking the pack off or grabbing out a water bottle. There is also a little bit of room to stash other gear in the pack. We especially like these when hiking with our kids.
Backpack: If not using the camelbak, then this backpack is a fantastic hiking backpack. I love that it’s not *too* big, and that it has a lot of little pouches and pockets for separating out all of your things and keeping organized.
Best Time to Go Hiking Near St. George
The best time to go hiking in the St. George area is fall, winter, and spring. Summer can get unbearably hot, and many of these hikes are not shaded. While winter can see snow, there are also periods of really nice weather – with days in the 40-60’s F.
A Quick Safety Note About Slot Canyons
While many of the slot canyons on this list are pretty short (the exception being the Narrows), it’s worth noting that you should never hike a slot canyon if there is a chance of rain anywhere in the area, or if it has rained recently.
Flash floods can and do occur in slot canyons, and are incredibly dangerous, as water rushes through fast and very high. Flash floods can also occur from rain that has fallen miles away, so check the entire region that you’re in for rain, and don’t risk it!
As I’m writing this, two hikers just drowned in a flash flood in a southern Utah slot canyon, so it definitely does happen. Be careful!
Always Leave No Trace
When you’re out in nature, it’s always important to leave no trace. This involves the following 7 principles:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare: Check the weather, download any maps needed, wear appropriate shoes, and bring enough water
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly: Please don’t leave trash around. Whatever you bring in, pack out
- Leave What You Find: It’s generally discouraged to remove rocks, fossils, etc from your hikes. In addition, please don’t carve into rocks or leave graffiti.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife: Don’t approach wild animals, and give them a wide berth if you do encounter them
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Final Thoughts on the Best Trails Near St. George
While maybe not as well known as the epic hikes in the ever popular Arches National Park, St. George has a TON to offer. There are so many fun hikes to do near St. George, whether you go hiking right outside the city, or use St. George as a base for the many, many nearby state parks, national parks, and just other cool hiking areas.