Eastern Red Cliffs and Babylon
If you do one thing in the eastern end of Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, it should be the Red Cliffs Nature Trail. This is no tame nature walk; it’s a ramble into a twisting rock canyon with pools of delightful flowing water you can stomp through and swim in. A leisurely desert waterfall serves as a major landmark a short ways up. Many people stop here to play in the swimming hole, but there’s no need to end your ramble there. You can scramble up the waterfall’s sandstone edge and continue onward as long as you like. The Red Cliffs Nature Trail is one you can tolerate even on hot days, as long as the stream is still running (it may not be by summer’s end).
Heading further eastward, you’ll find the Babylon area is indeed biblical in its proportions. Winding sandy trails and fascinating, otherworldly rock formations bedeck the rolling desert landscape. Babylon has a certain wild edge to it: the trails are exposed to the sun’s full potency all day, and even the access road to the trailheads is nothing to sneeze at, requiring four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive to access most points. If you’re up for the undertaking, this fascinating scene is well worth exploring. If you happen to be traveling with your family or are a less experienced hiker, then the Babylon Arch Trail is where you should head in this area. This quick 1.5 miles family friendly hike goes through a fascinating rock arch on its way to the Virgin River.
And, representing the Hurricane area at the easternmost reaches of the reserve, you’ll find the East and West Cinder Knolls. They’re geologically interesting, true to their names — they’re volcanic knolls jutting up above the little desert town of Hurricane (which locals pronounce more like "her-kin"). While these cinder cones aren’t as flashy as some Red Cliffs Reserve trails, they’re unique: The west cone is especially colorful, being comprised of a rich, dark red and black cinder pile that’s fascinating to walk across. You’ll get a little workout in by gaining hundreds of feet on the way to the caldera overlooks. And you’ll be able to check out the vast glory of Sandstone Mountain, also a part of the reserve, as well as the Pine Valley Mountains.
Wherever you go within the wondrous Red Cliffs Reserve, keep in mind that safety is no joke in the desert. Simply running out of water or getting lost on a hot day can get truly dangerous quickly.
Be Sure To:
- Always carry far more water than you expect to need.
- Monitor the weather forecast.
- Keep a close eye on how pets and children are doing.
- Carry a map you know how to read.
- Give local wildlife a wide berth.
Get a refresher while looking out over local geology at the River Rock Roasting Company, perched over the Virgin River gorge.
Harrisburg, Leeds, Hurricane
Where to Park
Red Cliffs, Sand Cove, and Cinder Cone trailheads
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
- Red Cliffs Trailhead: 37.2242, -113.406
- Babylon’s Sand Cove Trailhead: 37.209511, -113.335939
- Cinder Cone Trailheads: 37.186503, -113.300823
Originally written by RootsRated for Utah Office of Tourism.