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The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail

Zion + Bryce Canyon Area, Utah

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The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail

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  • Entering the Red Mountain Wilderness.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Head down into the wash from the parking area above.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Navajo sandstone covers much of the area.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Head to the left of this cone toward the Vortex.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Juniper and pinion pine dot the area.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Unusual features along the trail.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Having some fun with the rare puddles.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Keep heading south and up the successive steps of stone until you reach a lookout at the top.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Walking along a sandstone ledge. It is so fun to carve your own path out in this wilderness.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Stacked rocks near where you begin to double back and head up to the Vortex.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Great views to the west toward Gunlock.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • From the lookout, head north toward the Vortex, which sits on the upper fins.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Down to the right is where you came up from the trailhead, and on the left is how you get up to the Vortex. - The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Rippled stone.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • The Vortex.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
  • Enjoying the view with the puddles on the way back.- The Vortex via Lower Sand Cove Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Intersting geology. Great views. Family friendly. Dogs allowed.
Cons: 
Hard to access after rain. Gets very hot during the day in summer. Exposed.
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Region:
Zion + Bryce Canyon Area, UT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Highest point: 
4,393.00 ft (1,338.99 m)
Net Elevation Gain: 
298.00 ft (90.83 m)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
2.20 mi (3.54 km)
Total elevation gain: 
492.00 ft (149.96 m)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,095.00 ft (1,248.16 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Lower Sand Cove Trailhead sits on the border of the Red Mountain Wilderness and takes you across a sandy wash and into the vast and protected terrain. This is not a cut trail but consists of some light route finding, which is common in the desert and what makes desert hiking so much fun. Follow the cairns south to the lookout before making your way up to the unusual geological feature known as the Vortex. The sandstone in this depression looks like it has been spun down into the ground in the shape of a spiral. The views to the north of the Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness are really pretty and often have snow on them, even in the spring or autumn. The hike has many beautiful sights along the way, showing off the layered Entrada, Kayenta and Navajo sandstone. Juniper Trees and the occasional pinion pine dot the landscape and add some green to the reds, whites, yellows and oranges of the terrain. This hike gets super hot in the summer and is totally exposed, so be very careful about how much water you have and bring a hat and some long sleeves if you'll be day hiking from June through August. Dogs can join, but be very wary of the heat with them.

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(4 within a 30 mile radius)

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(29 within a 30 mile radius)

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