There’s no denying that Zion National Park is a big part of what draws so many visitors to Southern Utah. The more than 5 million annual guests no doubt agree that the park is a must-see during your visit! But it’s far from the only outdoor attraction in the region worth a visit. When booking your Zion lodging, you’ll also want to consider adding a state park or two to your itinerary.
Southern Utah’s state parks feature stunning landscapes that rival those found in the region’s state parks, as well as other activities you can’t enjoy in Zion, like boating, swimming, fishing, or even off-roading.
Ready to start planning your own stay at the best vacation rentals in Hurricane? Keep reading to learn about 5 state parks less than an hour away that make for perfect day trips during your next visit.
1. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Just under an hour’s drive from Hurricane is a state park that looks like it could be worlds away from Zion National Park. As the name suggests, the crowning feature of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is the rolling sand dunes, which take on a light pink hue at dusk and dawn. These dunes were formed more than 10,000 years ago when the Navajo sandstone rock formations located in what is now the park were eroded by wind and water.
This 3,000-acre state park features a large off-road area where visitors can race across the dunes on ATVs and UTVs. Bring your own off-road vehicle or join a tour with a local company for an unforgettable experience. Prefer something slower-paced? The park is also a popular spot for hiking and sand sledding.
2. Quail Creek State Park
Those looking for the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day should plan a day trip to Quail Creek State Park. Located just 15 minutes from Hurricane, this park is best known for its large reservoir. The deep water — 120 feet deep in some places — is stocked with crappie, rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, and more.
Quail Creek is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming. But it’s far more than just a summer destination; the park’s higher elevation means that it has some of the warmest water in the state and a mild winter climate that allows for year-round fishing.
3. Sand Hollow State Park
Another day trip destination less than 15 minutes away is Sand Hollow State Park. One of the newest state parks in Utah, this park also features a smaller reservoir where you can boat, fish, and even scuba dive. Adjacent to the state park is its other popular attraction; over 62,000 acres of off-road trails. This off-road destination features a variety of landscapes to explore by way of ATV or UTV, including rolling sand dunes, rocky canyons, and cactus-filled desert expanses.
Between boat rides on the lake and off-road rides, you can also enjoy hiking in the park or a picnic on the reservoir’s red beaches.
4. Frontier Homestead State Park
A different kind of state park experience awaits in Frontier Homestead State Park. Instead of wide expanses of wilderness, this state park is a destination for history buffs or anyone wanting to learn more about early pioneers who settled in the region.
Located about 45 minutes from Hurricane, Frontier Homestead is home to a museum that tells the history of iron ore cultivation, which brought pioneers to Southern Utah in the early 1850s. Learn the challenges that these early Mormon settlers faced as they built towns and mined the region. Also in the park are the remains of the foundry, antique farming equipment, as well as some original pioneer cabins that were relocated to the site.
In addition to hands-on exhibits, the museum also offers interpretive programs throughout the year to give guests a better idea of what life was like for early settlers.
5. Snow Canyon State Park
The last state park on this list is a half-hour away from Hurricane, Utah. Snow Canyon State Park is home to incredible red rock formations that rival those found in the state’s national parks. This beautiful park is a destination for hiking and mountain biking. Covering more than 7,000 acres, Snow Canyon has dozens of trails to choose from. On Jerry’s Canyon Trail, you can enjoy an easy half-mile hike into a slot canyon — one of the region’s most popular geological features that are difficult to reach in most places. Johnson’s Canyon is another great trail for hikers of all experience levels. This easy 2-mole hike leads to a verdant canyon, where you can see a historic pipe that once carried water to farm fields in the area.
Horseback riding and rock climbing are also popular activities in the park. A variety of local companies offer tours and equipment rentals close to the park.
Choosing the Best Zion Lodging for Your Stay
From off-roading to boating to sand sledding, these Utah state parks are a great way to escape the crowds of Zion during busy weekend days or to enjoy other activities you can’t do in the park. When you stay at the best vacation rentals in Hurricane, you’re less than an hour away from each of these 5 state parks, making them a great choice for a day trip or even an afternoon of fun
Ready to see for yourself what makes these state parks so special? Now is the time to book your Zion lodging and start planning your next Southern Utah adventure!