Off Road Trail Spotlight: Diamond Valley, Cottonwood Canyon, Silver Reef – St. George, Utah Trails

Planning an off-roading adventure doesn’t always mean finding tough trails to test your rig. If you’re in the southwest, there are plenty of other trails you can explore other than the popular ones in Moab.

For instance, you could choose to head to some of the lesser-known trails in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Alternatively, you could accompany us on one of our southern Utah trail rides where we head out to explore the trails around St. George. We make sure to include detours to some interesting sites to help off-roaders learn the history of the area.

From Diamond Valley to Silver Reef through Cottonwood Canyon

The drive from Diamond Valley to Silver Reef has plenty of interesting sites to see. If you plan early enough, you can take a detour to see some petroglyphs that have been carved into hard volcanic rock instead of the usual sandstone. There’s little to go on about these petroglyphs so you can let your imagination wander on who carved them, when, and why.

From there you can head down the south side of Pine Valley Mountain, passing a lone vineyard and an abandoned stone quarry where sandstone used for the early structures in St. George was mined. The quarry overlooks Cottonwood Creek Canyon and is a great place to take a break, and maybe have some lunch before proceeding.

As the journey progresses toward Silver Reef, you can catch glimpses of Zion National Park in the distance. Along the way, you’ll also be stunned by scenic views of Diamond Valley as well as Red Valley. As you approach Silver Reef, you can choose to take another detour, this time to see the Children’s Forest Charcoal Kiln. This beehive-shaped kiln was built around 1885 from sandstone and black mortar and was used to produce the charcoal used in the separation process for the Silver Reef mines.

Silver Reef itself is an abandoned ghost town to the northeast of St. George that boomed in the late 1860s and 70s thanks to the discovery of silver in sandstone. This geographical rarity drew miners, geologists, and businessmen, among others, who contributed to the short-lived success of the mining town. If you have enough time during your trip, you can take a guided tour of the Silver Reef Museum before heading back to St. George.

Trip Preparation

This trip takes you down the western shoulder of Pine Valley Mountain past Cottonwood Canyon and to the abandoned town of Silver Reef. While the area isn’t as remote as others we’ve explored, it’s still a good idea to download a trail map of the area so you have an idea of where you are at all times. You should also carry a GMRS radio, air down and air up equipment, plenty of lunch, snacks, and drinks for the tip, and sunscreen.

Don’t hesitate to contact Dixie 4 Wheel Drive if you have any 4WD issues you’d like sorted or if you have questions about the trails around St. George. We’re always happy to help out.

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