Our ambassador, Jenna, from the blog Wander the map, takes us on an adventure in Utah.
Utah has quickly become one of our favorite states in the U.S. We’ve visited several times and each visit leaves us wanting more. The landscapes are diverse and the opportunities for outdoor adventures are outstanding. Here are a few of our favorite trails to hike in southern Utah!
1. JONHSON CANYON
Johnson Canyon Trail is a short hike (approximately 2.9 kilometers roundtrip (1.8 miles), but it definitely packs a punch. It is located at the entrance to Snow Canyon State Park and is a relatively easy hike with only minor elevation changes. Along the way we found beautiful red rock walls and formations, black lava flows, plenty of greenery and shrubs, a natural arch, and tall canyon walls towards the end of the trail. One thing to note; however, is that it is only open during the winter months, so it’s just one of the many advantages of visiting Utah in the winter.
2. PETRIFIED DUNES TRAILWe were incredibly surprised by Snow Canyon State Park. Snow Canyon seems to get overshadowed by the “Mighty 5” National Parks nearby, but it’s definitely a spot that you shouldn’t miss. The Petrified Dunes is another fantastic (and short!) trail at Snow Canyon State Park. The one is only 2 kilometers (1.2-miles) roundtrip, but I honestly don’t even know if we followed the right path. When you are on the dunes, you can pretty much walk anywhere you choose, which is exactly what we did. We arrived just before sunset, and were fascinated by the formations that unfolded in front of our eyes. The terrain here is essentially made up of what used to be mountains of sand. Now you find hardened rock formations with intricate patterns that swirl their way off into the distance. It is truly mesmerizing.
3. THE NARROWS TRAIL
This beautiful trail is located in the narrowest part of Zion Canyon. To hike The Narrows, you actually need to wade through water, as the Virgin River is the trail! The water can be ankle deep or even higher than your waist depending on the time of year, the water level of the river and where you decide to walk. There are several ways to hike this trail. We started the hike from the bottom of the canyon and hiked several miles in. The views throughout the canyon are absolutely spectacular—towering rock walls and a rushing river create some pretty fantastic views the entire length of the hike.
4. ELEPHANT ARCH TRAILThe trail to Elephant Arch is 6 kilometers (3.8 miles) roundtrip, and the first part of the trail consists of walking along a dirt road and flat sandy path. Partway into the hike, the trail turned from flat into some small ups and downs over rocky outcrops. We scrambled our way along the path and eventually wound up standing at the base of Elephant Arch. Looking up at the arch, you can see how it really does resemble an elephant! At this point, you can choose to admire the formation from afar, or you can climb up and around to get right up next to, and even on top of the arch! We couldn’t resist climbing all the way to the arch, and the views from the top were even better than they were from below.
5. ANGELS LANDING TRAIL
Angels Landing is an intense (and terrifying!) hike that consists of switchbacks, steep drop offs, and 1,500 feet of elevation gain in just 4 kilometers (2.6 miles). The first 3.3 kilometers (2.1 miles) of the hike have several sections with dizzying switchbacks, but the real challenge is the last 0.5 mile of the trail, which is definitely not for the faint of heart. You must walk along narrow trails with hair-raising drop-offs (on both sides!) to the canyon floor around 2,000 feet below. The only thing you have to hold onto is fixed chain railings that sporadically line the path. It’s intense to say the least, but well worth the effort if you can manage any fear of heights that you may have. The views from the top are incredible and the rush you get from the trail makes it one of our favorite hikes of all time!
Follow Jenna's adventures on her blog, Wander the map >>