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Utah Adventures With A Friend: Part 3

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 8 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 11 days ago

Our friend, Yi, was in town and we already started our road trip through southern Utah. On day 5 of 10, we were headed from Lake Powell to St. George. We would spend the next several days exploring state parks by foot and an OHV excursion.

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Utah Adventures With A Friend
⦿ Part 1: Welcome Back to Utah
⦿ Part 2: Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell
⦿ Part 3: Mount Carmel Highway, Snow Canyon State Park, and Sand Hollow State Park (this post)
⦿ Part 4: Zion National Park and Hurricane Area (upcoming post)
⦿ Part 5: More Biking and Wrapping up the Visit (upcoming post)

Wrapping up Page, AZ

Our trip continued with a stop at Glen Canyon Dam. The visitor center was closed, but we have visited in the past, and worth a bit of time if you want to learn more about the dam. You can walk across the bridge, so this is what we did. Next, we drove to a nearby marina and beach to get yet another view of the lake before moving towards southwest Utah.

This would be a driving day with lots of little stops to give Yi a good sense of the variety in the area.  Keith and I had been on a motorhome trip to the area so we are familiar with quite a few highlights.

Belly of the Dragon

We planned three short hikes along the drive, but Belly of the Dragon was the only one we did because it was raining. The other two hikes planned were Toadstool Hoodoo's, a quick 1.8 mi (2.9 kilometers) out and back with 141 ft. (43 meters) of elevation gain, and Canyon Overlook Trail, located right outside Zion National Park. It’s a 1 mi (1.6 kilometers) out and back with 187 ft. (57 meters) of elevation gain.

Belly of the Dragon is a stop I took my mom to a few months prior and I wanted to show Keith and Yi this unique place. It’s just a tunnel right off the road and you can walk beyond, but there isn’t much to see. It’s a good way to stretch the legs on a drive day.

I didn’t think about it to be so wet and muddy, upon entering the “belly.” I took a step that pushed me about 6 inches into the mud! It took a little climbing around to avoid the mud, but we made it through just fine. One thing about revisiting locations is that you can have a completely different experience another time because of various conditions. This makes for a memorable experience and additional adventure no matter what.

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

This famous highway is a must-see if visiting Zion National Park or even in the area. This is one of my favorite locations in Utah. The first time we drove this stretch of road was in the jeep. The sun was shining and just about to set. There were a bunch of mountain goats right along the road in several spots. It was a magical moment that I’ll never forget.

The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway connects Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Parks. The road weaves within two tall canyon walls and offers rock formations like mounds, towers, hoodoos, etc. It's also known for its colored sandstone, desert pines, sagebrush, and wildflowers. It's common to see the mountain goats around sunset so it's worth the extra planning or an extra drive if time allows. The drive also features a 1.1-mile (1.7 kilometers) tunnel, it's quite the experience!

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Oversized vehicles, including buses, motorhomes, and trailers, must obtain a permit to enter the tunnel. Check the website for more information. Also, note that bicycles and pedestrians are prohibited from the tunnel.

Quail Creek State Park

We took a little detour to Quail Creek State Park. It’s just a few minutes out of the way, a small lake, but stunning and a recommended area if you want something more private. You can boat, paddleboard, and swim in the lake. There is also a campground here. We stopped by the park often on our previous trips for picnics.

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We ended the day by checking into our hotel and heading to Pioneer Park in St. George, Utah. This park is located right outside town, offers red rock to explore, and is a wonderful spot for sunset.

Check out our Video

Yi was visiting us in Utah, and we planned a 10-day road trip! This is 2 of 3 videos of the road trip.

Snow Canyon State Park

Keith and I think Snow Canyon State Park is a gem of St. George and is often overlooked. The park offers a variety of activities in a very relaxed setting; hiking, biking, climbing, camping, horseback riding, photography, picnicking, etc. There are about 16 miles (25.7 kilometers) of hiking trails and I like that you can mix and match connecting trails to your liking. We hiked around for a few hours, seeking out some of our favorite views. We like to park at the visitor center/ campground and then cross the street to start at the Hidden Pinyon Trail, connect to the Petrified Dunes, Lava Flow Trail, etc.

The Vortex

Located outside the park, the Vortex (also known as The Bowl) is a 2.3-mile (3.7 kilometers) out-and-back hike with 524 ft (160 meters) of elevation gain. The main feature can be described as a deep sandstone pothole. Both times we’ve been there it's been extremely windy, a reference to the name Vortex. The erosion of the inverted cone is unique to see. We also had the Cinder Cone hike on our to-do list, but it was abnormally hot so we decided to go straight to a treat instead.

The Original Veyo Pie & Bakery is located in the nearby tiny town of Veyo. This is an excellent treat after a day of hiking. You’ll miss this place if you blink, it’s not a very big building. A few picnic tables outside offer a place to sit and enjoy your treat. I can't believe we didn't get any pictures here. I guess we were too focused on the pie.

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Sand Hollow UTV Rental

Keith and I had taken our jeep through Sand Hollow State Park for an awesome, but nerve-wracking adventure a few years prior. Since we didn't have the Jeep on this trip, we looked forward to renting an OHV to explore the park with Yi.

We got a little lost at the start of the day. The tunnel entrance in Sand Hollow State Park was temporarily closed at the beginning of the day because the recent storms flooded the area with sand. It was something to see and wild how much sand had piled up.

We ended up loosely following a similar route as Sand Hollow for Wimps, which we did last time, only in reverse. We knew a few highlights we wanted to check out again. It was interesting to see the features/challenges from the perspective of an OHV as opposed to the Jeep. I had assumed the Jeep would be a scarier experience, but that wasn’t necessarily true. The OHV allowed us to play in the dune area of the part.  This was super fun and the highlight of the day for me! My stomach defied me and I couldn’t handle the jerking movement or dizziness. The guys wanted to play around more so I requested they drop me off at the main area of the park so I could relax my stomach and enjoy the rest of the day.

More Adventures

Check back next week as we hike The Narrows at Zion National Park and Keith and Yi do some biking while I spend a relaxing day reading!

Have you been to driven the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway? If so, what were your impressions? How did you like the tunnels? Did you see any wildlife in the area? Let us know in the comments section below.👇 💬

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