Hike the Exciting Red Reef Trail St George (there’s a waterfall climb)

Looking for adventurous things to do in St George Utah? Be sure to put this Red Reef Trail on your list.

‘“This is the most fun day we’ve had so far!” Savannah jumped up and down clapping her hands.

We had only just begun with the adventures and incredible beauty of Utah and she was already in love. You just wait my dear, Utah will blow your mind! It’s on our list of places to see in Utah that no one tells you about.

We arrived in Utah the afternoon before and could see the beckoning red cliffs across from our campsite.

The snow capped peak behind it just added to the deliciousness of the knowing that we had arrive in the right place and made the BEST choice to spend at least a month in Utah soaking up the natural energy and beauty.

I don’t think you could find a more colorful place to visit.

Just check out Sand Hollow State Park, which we visited after our morning at Red Cliffs Recreation Area to only make the most fun day so far even more fun!

We had the morning to spare and ducked on over to see what it was all about and whether this was a worthy Utah hike with kids.

There were a couple of trails I was mulling over to do: The Silver Reef to dinosaur tracks or the Anasazi Ruins.

I still hadn’t decided until we pulled up in the campsite and at the last minute decided to veer left to take the Red Reef Trail.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Red Reef Trail

Red Cliffs, Utah

The Red Reef Trail is a memorable red rock wonderland.

The 3/4 mile hike takes you along a Cottonwood filled canyon amidst towering cliffs brings you to several pools inside a slot canyon.

The canyon narrows throughout the trail until it is just a few feet wide and you reach a beautiful little waterfall cascading over the sooth red rocks.

It reminded me of Hamersley Gorge in Karijini National Park Western Australia.

people standing in a canyon

The waterfall marks the end of the official trail, but this is really where the adventure and the beauty of this trail begins.

To the right of the waterfall are steps carved into the sandstone. A rope dangles down to help you climb up and around the fall were you can then continue walking through a slot canyon for as far as you like.

It took Savannah a few minutes to work up the courage to give it a go, but once she did and completed the climb her excitement exploded.

On this US road trip she has become quite the adventurous hiker.

She wants to try things that test her limits and are a little on the risky side. She was persistent we keep going when climbing Bell Rock in Sedona and was so disappointed when we turned around for fear it was too risky.

A few days after this in Zion National Park she was also insisting we go to the top of Angels Landing!!

So of course she was jumping up and down saying this was the most fun ever – she just climbed around a waterfall over smooth rocks while holding onto a rope.

Exploring the canyon above the waterfall was fun.

We had to wade through a small stream through the slot canyon which was absolutely freezing. And we could only walk a few steps before jumping back out on the steep and smooth rock face beside it to allow our numbed feet to find themselves again.

So we didn’t get too much further around as the canyon walls were too step and the river too cold. This walk continues for almost 6 miles into the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness.

The pool beneath the waterfall is an ideal natural swimming hole and it is fun to slide down the natural shoot or to jump into the pool. It was way too cold to swim there when we visited.

The trailhead is at the Red Cliffs Campground.

To reach the campground drive I-15 to the town of Leeds (15 miles north of St. George) and then follow the frontage road south to Quail Lake.

Watch for the Red Cliffs sign and follow the paved road under the freeway and up to the campground.

Red Cliff Recreation Area

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a sprawling 60,000-acres of jaw-dropping scenery, bio-diversity and epic adventures.

It encompasses the Red Cliff Recreation Area and the nearby Snow Canyon State Park.

This area is technically a transition zone between the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau and so offers a mixture of plants and animals from each of these regions.

I loved seeing the cholla trees, a scary favorite of our South West travels so far.

girl walking through a desert

The Reserve offers a variety of hikes ranging from very easy to very strenuous. The eastern reaches include the highly recommended Red Cliffs Nature Trail and the Babylon area.

You can read more about the Babylon Arch Trail in Kristin Luna’s post including the Yant Point which I really wanted to get to in the Dixie National Forest.

The Red Cliff Recreation provides a welcome relief in the desert with its looming cliffs and riparian habitat, although some trails could be hot in the summer.

There are 14 trails accessible of hiking, biking and horseback riding. Several historical sites as well as dinosaur tracks and Anasazi ruins.

The Red Cliffs Campground has 10 campsites within reddish-orange canyon walls. Quail Creek, a seasonal stream, emerges from a canyon and flows through the middle of the campground.

Video of the Red Reef Hike

You can camp at the Sand Hollow State Park, which is what we wanted to do but it was booked out.

3 Week American Southwest Itinerary

Time to plan your Southwest USA road trip with an itinerary to suit your timeframe + a handy Utah Bucket List so you don’t miss those epic adventures:

Where to Stay in St George, Utah

We stayed at KOA St George Hurricane which we weren’t too impressed with, although it was close to Sand Hollow.

St. George hotels that come recommended are:

  • The Desert Garden Inn offers free WIFI, parking, a pool with a view and a hot breakfast. It’s great for families and they allow pets.
  • The Best Western Abbey Inn is located in the middle of St George giving you easy access to restaurants and stories. Free breakfast, pool and hot tub.
  • Wingate by Wyndham is also located near restaurants and shops. It also has free shuttle, complimentary bike rental, free breakfast, pool and is pet friendly.
  • Inn at Entrada is a luxury resort choice located just outside of the STUNNING Snow canyon Sate Park. Golfers will love this choice.
  • Inn on the Cliff is another resort option that often makes the Best of Lists! Gorgeous views, especially from the pool.

How to Get to Red Reef Trail & St George

St. George is just under two hours from Las Vegas.

So you could visit Sand Hollow State Park on a day trip, however we recommend spending longer in the St. George region as there are so many awesome things to do here.

RV Rental Utah

If you are road tripping through the Southwest USA an RV rental may be the perfect option for you. Check Outdoorsy, or RVShare, to rent a unique campervan or RV that will suit any kind of style or budget

Other Places in the American Southwest

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