Snow Hiking – Admidst The Red Rock

Ankle Deep In Powder

Thoughts of winter can conjure scenes of skiing and snowboarding but it’s also a great time for walking or hiking, even in snowy conditions.  While the St. George area occasionally receives some snow, southwestern Utah has some excellent higher elevation destinations where snow is more common.  These areas include Pine Valley Mountain, the Kolob Terrace, the mountains east of Cedar City, and Beaver, and along the high plateaus around Bryce Canyon. Our preference is to find any location where the snow is deep, amidst the colorful red rock.

Getting Out There

One recent adventure, the day after a snowstorm, led us to a series of rock outcroppings where we could explore in and around large crevices of rust colored sandstone.  From a parking area near the road we circled through stands of sage following a naturally eroded passageway, until we reached the base of the nearby formations. Bob and I, with our wives Susan and Denise, traipsed below the rock contours ducking beneath snow-laden scrub oak branches, while attempting to avoid cold gifts of moisture inside our collars, and down our backs.

Along the way we spotted icicles, like monster teeth, with their sun-warmed water droplets darkening the red rock along sandstone shelves.  Normally rough terrain was smoothed by the nearly twelves inches of fresh powder, and we enjoyed trying to find footholds and grips under the snow, as we ascended stair stepping ledges into a slot canyon.  The narrow chamber of the slot provided hollow echoes of our snow crunching steps, heavy breaths, and our occasional verbal expressions of delight at what we were discovering.  We pressed into dark narrow passageways, where sunlight could not easily reach.  On a waisthigh ledge, my wife compacted small balls of snow to create a ten-inch snowman.  The snowball concept caught on with the rest of us and soon we were embattled in the best slot canyon snowball fight imaginable. Bob and I were quickly reminded that our wives still have the athletic touch, as we were continuously pelted by fastballs that would have impressed any major leaque scout.

Rising to higher vantage points we took in the surrounding views where a heavy blanket of snow had pressed the open space foliage close to the ground. The red rock simply potruded upward, updaunted, proudly displaying their winter coats and reflecting the cloud filtered rays of the sun.

Preparation

Bear in mind that these kind of adventures are most enjoyable when you are dressed warm and prepared with appropriate gear and supplies.  Waterproof boots are a must for trekking in snow, and comfortable pants, jackets, gloves, and hats round out the general clothing necessities. Bring layers of clothing that can be removed, or added, depending on conditions. Trekking poles are always helpful, and snowshoes may be needed for deeper snow.  Bring along other usual hiking items (snacks, water, camera, etc.) and you’re ready for a great winter excursion.

See more about Winter Road Trips.

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