The Ultimate Southern Utah, Sand Hollow State Park – Rock Crawling Experiences

When we’re not working on custom 4×4 builds in our full-service shop, we’re out cruising off the beaten path exploring the different off-roading trails and terrain of Southern Utah. This part of the country is a dream come true for avid rock crawlers, with petrified sand dunes, interesting rock formations and miles of trails across cliffs and canyons in the desert.

Sand Hollow State Park- A Haven for Rock Crawlers

Next time you’re looking for the ultimate rock crawling adventure, join one of Dixie 4 Wheel Drive’s excursions into Sand Hollow State Park. The sprawling 20,000-acre park is a favorite destination for OHV (off-highway vehicle) enthusiasts and for good reason. With more than 15,000 acres of perfectly formed dunes and gorgeous red rock, the park has an unprecedented number of trails offering the best rock crawling experiences in a spectacular setting.

Adhere To These Basic OHV Laws and Rules During Your Rock Crawling Adventure

  1. Riders and passengers under age 18 must wear properly-fitted helmets. It’s also recommended that everyone operating an OHV should wear protective headgear.

  2. Only stick to areas designated as open to OHVs.

  3. Keep right on the road and drive in single file.

  4. Drive sober as it’s illegal to operate an OHV while under the influence of alcohol.

  5. All OHVs are required to have mufflers.

  6. Always be alert to oncoming traffic especially in dips, on hill crests and on blind curves.

  7. A brightly colored “whip flag” must be attached to all OHVs when driving in sand dune areas.

  8. Lights must always be used between sunset and sunrise.

  9. Kids 8 years old and younger are not allowed to operate OHVs on public roads, trails or land in Utah.

  10. Ensure your brakes are working and can stop your vehicle.

The Best Rock Crawling Trails in Sand Hollow State Park

There are lots of different trails of varying difficulties in Sand Hollow State Park. Here are some of our favorites:

Difficult: The Maze

This is a popular ‘must-do’ trail for adrenaline junkies who enjoy technical, hard-core challenges featuring steep ascents and hair-raising descents complete with a 1,200ft cliff edge. You can access The Maze either through the sand dunes from Sand Hollow Reservoir or through the West Rim scenic route from the Washington Dam staging area.

The route has tons of obstacles starting with ‘The Drop’ followed by a series of unrelenting challenges crowned by an intimidating climb that will find you perched high off the ground. Towards the end of the trail, you can try tackling ‘The Soup Bowl’. Should you look up from negotiating these obstacles, you’ll catch fantastic views of the Warner Valley and the Arizona Strip in the distance.

Difficult: Double Sammy

This trail crams lots of difficult challenges, steep climbs and descents as well as some fiendish obstacles into a short distance. You’ll start off at Sand Hollow State Park before meandering through deep sand dunes and slickrock cracks and ledges with breathtaking views of Hurricane Cliffs to the east, Pine Valley Mountains to the west and Sand Hollow Reservoir to the north.

Expect to have your rock crawling skills tested by the abundant climbs and descents, vertical walls, a series of rugged steps and an impressive 70-foot obstacle known as The Chute before completing the trail.

Moderate: Milt’s Mile

Named after a local 4×4 shop owner, this is a trail with great challenges and spectacular scenery. Most of the route goes over slickrock and crisscrosses sandy canyon bottoms and bumpy sandy trails. Almost every part of this trail run affords a great view- you’ll see the lower Hurricane Sand Dunes to the east, with the Hurricane Cliffs looming in the background, the sandstone canyons with odd rock formations and hoodoos to the south and the Zion Park lying to the north of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.

The trail offers numerous obstacles with lots of variety, starting with the grueling climb out of the east-side bowl followed by a waterfall climb, a series of notches and ledges, narrow cracks tricky bypasses and a V-notch that will topple you over if you’re not careful. You’ll require careful spotting and lots of skillful maneuvering to make your way through Milt’s Mile.

Moderate: West Rim

The West Rim Trail is one of the most popular in the park so it tends to fill up fast. The beauty of taking this route is that a large group of different vehicles can tour together and still find common obstacles to conquer. The trail gives you an amazing 360-degree view of the surrounding area so be sure to snap pics of the Arizona Strip, the Warner Valley, Hurricane Cliffs and Zion Park.

The first leg of the trail will traverse the dunes before bringing you to the first obstacle- “The Steps” which are a set of slickrock edges that will put your 4×4’s suspension to the test. From there, you’ll encounter a rounded 30” step known as “The Funnel” before climbing to the “West Rim Boulevard”. Other notable obstacles along the trail include:

·         The Toll Booths- which tower above the trail

·         The Scenic Loop- with lovely views of St. George

·         The Lunch Room- an alcove surrounded by tall rock walls

·         The Squeeze –guaranteed to be tight for wide vehicles

·         And The Rock Garden towards the end of the trail.

Difficult: Plan B

If you’re looking to hone your dune bashing skills while taking in expansive views of the Arizona Strip and the Warner Valley, this is the trail for you. The access route is a bumpy trip from the Hurricane Water Tanks taking you to the upper dunes of Sand Mountain. Once you conquer the steep climb to the top, you can cut across the top of the West Rim or through the sand dunes, encountering continuous challenges amidst the beautiful scenery.

Along the trail, you’ll have to contend with 2 unnerving off-camber turns, sheer drops, imposing rocks and a few demanding hills and washes. Watch out for two highlights of this trail- the “Kissing Turtles” arch and the “Flintstone House”.

Difficult: John’s Trail

This is a fairly short 10-mile trail located at the center of the Sand Hollow OHV area. The trail starts with a westward trip from the Hurricane Water Tanks to the sand dunes area and gives you an excellent view of the Virgin River Valley located in the Washington Dam area.

Once you drop into the bottom of the dunes, you’ll have to face a steep climb up the opposite side followed by the option of descending into Johnny’s Hot Tub or bypassing it and moving on to other obstacles. These include a series of rocky off-camber gulches that will rattle your suspension, small washes and steep sandstone climbs before coming to the steep ledges that mark the end of John’s trail.

Overall, this trail is deceptively simple and poor approach angles and inexperience will land you some body damage and possible breakdowns. Remember the bypasses are always an option.

Mild: East Rim

The East Rim Trail is one of the simpler ones to negotiate in Sand Hollow. This is a 23.2-mile scenic route that is mainly used for camping. It stretches from the base of the Hurricane Cliffs in Warner Valley and crosses over Sand Mountain to the West Rim and comes to an end at the Washington Dam Road staging area.

While it’s a simple route, you’ll have to watch out for some rocky ledges on the two-track road as well as some sand dune crossing. Both are perfect for novice rock crawlers who want to build their confidence. Remember to pack your camera to snap as many pics of the Warner Valley, the Arizona Strip, St. George City and the Pine Valley Mountains as possible, thanks to the awesome views you’ll have from the trail.

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