Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Our free breakfast at the Garden Inn wasn’t too exciting. With the COVID restrictions, no options but it came with the room. Our destination today is Snow Canyon State Park. The entrance is about 12 miles from our hotel and we have ambitions of hiking several trails today. The expected high is 97.
Upon arriving, as we are driving to our first destination, we see a desert tortoise crossing the road. That was a first for me. Many had stopped to take photos so we avoided the crowd and drove on. Carolyn has found and created a loop route for us that will take us on the Lava Flow Trail to West Canyon Road to Petrified Dunes to Butterfly and back on a section of Lava Flow. It is a very ambitious start to our morning. Sunny, hot, sandy trails, over the petrified dunes makes for a spectacular loop. The lava field is interesting and includes some lava caves that some climb down and explore.
The petrified dunes are amazing. I have no idea how they were formed but it is a beautiful trek across the sandstone that includes some slippery areas.
Our hike is approximately 4.25 miles with elevation gains of 520 feet. We only see a couple other people on 2.5 hour adventure hike. Just beautiful. When finished, we decide to take a break and drive around ending up for a beer and a couple snacks at the Xetava Gardens Cafe located in Kayenta Art Village. The whole area is a high end residential area with sustainable types of building projects. It is something else to see, how many of the houses are built close to the ground and hard to see. The Brussel Sprouts are amazing and I honestly say that I have never, ever had a better iced tea. Sitting out social distanced on the patio with great service and great food is hard to beat. It was also our first taste of Rogue Ales Honey Kolsch. Carolyn has now found her favorite. It is refreshing and one can taste the honey.
Next stop is Costco, why because I love Costco and I always try to stop in different ones on my trips. Big and I mean big. Clean and well kept and we end up with nothing just walking around with our face mask on. People in Utah seem to honor the request without complaint. We head to the state liquor since they sell the Rogue Honey Kolsch and I just happen to find a bottle of bourbon that was a bit hard to find this year in Phoenix–Henry McKenna Single Barrel. This will become my souvenir for the trip. We head back to the hotel to quickly refresh and figure out where we are going to grab some local grub before returning to Snow Canyon State Park.
The local stop for our togo dinner is Larsen’s Frostop Old Fashioned Drive in. Larsen’s has been around in St. George since the mid 1960’s and it is a genuine throwback to the way folks used to dine at a drive in. It is a real small chain that started somewhere back east in the 1950’s. We grab a couple burgers, fries, and onion rings and head back to the park for an impromptu picnic. Beautiful setting at a great campground with picnic tables, clean restrooms, and beautiful scenery. We enjoy dinner and a Rogue Honey Kolsch and decide to go do several more hikes to work off those calories.
First stop, White Rocks Amphitheater trail. It is about a 2 mile roundtrip with few around. We get 200 feet of elevation since we climbed up some of the amphitheater for some scenic views.
Very different color of the rocks. At the amphitheater, you feel like you are at some Caribbean beach as there is plenty of deep white sand to roll around it. Nothing spectacular but worth the visit. Back at the car we head to the north exit of the park and drive down State Route 18 to the Paradise Canyon area. We embark on our last hike of the day The Chuckwalla Trail. Once again, we hike a total of a couple miles out and back at dusk. Not many hikers as we enjoyed the solitude as the sun went down. The trail leads to many other options but of course we have run out of time and are heading back home on Wednesday.
I am so impressed with the Utah State Park system. All the facilities we have seen are clean, well maintained, and plentiful. I am already thinking of return trips to tackle more hikes in more parks. We drive back to the Garden Inn with Carolyn telling me that we are going to eat breakfast somewhere different in the morning. We have a long drive ahead so while the news displays unrest throughout the country, we rest in St. George.