Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
1.20 mi (1.93 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The most photographed vistas in Snow Canyon come from the Petrified Dunes. A short trail leads into the dunes, and from there, the places you can go are endless. 

Imagine a time when much of southern Utah looked like the Sahara Desert. Nearly 200 million years ago, what is now the Navajo sandstone formation was a sea of shifting sand dunes. Today these dunes have formed into the slickrock that is seen throughout Snow Canyon and neighboring areas. The Petrified Dunes Trail gets you up close and personal with this rock. The red and orange rock here stands in contrast to the white rock in the northern reaches of Snow Canyon. Atop the slickrock you'll also see Moqui Marbles, small spheres of sandstone encased in iron oxide. Scientists aren't exactly clear about how these rocks formed, but they are a common sight throughout Southern Utah. Learn more about the Moqui marbles and other fascinating facets of Utah's geology here.

Non-technical scrambling is allowed in the Petrified Dunes area, so you can explore off-trail to your heart's content. If you prefer to stay on the beaten track, this trail connects to the Butterfly Trail, Hidden Pinyon Trail and Red Sands Trail. Wherever you decide to go, be sure to bring plenty of water and have sun protection,since these trails are extremely hot during most of the year. There are no shade trees on the dunes, just cacti, yucca and small shrubs. The best times of day to hike are in the early morning and early evening when the sun is lowest in the sky. The dunes provide an excellent place to catch a sunrise or sunset if you're camping in the park!

Humans aren't the only ones who enjoy hiking the dunes. Heat-loving lizards make their home here. See how many different varieties you can find. After spring rainstorms, you may see waterpockets among the sandstone hills. These temporary water sources are essential for the survival of desert animals. Look carefully for critters near these pools. Desert tortoise, quail, coyote, and gopher snakes also make their homes in Snow Canyon.

Combine the Petrified Dunes and Hidden Pinyon Trail for an easily accessible and thorough introduction to the area's geology and wildlife.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Winter
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Fun place for exploring.

Cons

Trail is exposed and can be very hot.

Trailhead Elevation

3,560.00 ft (1,085.09 m)

Highest point

3,640.00 ft (1,109.47 m)

Features

Family friendly
Wildlife
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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