The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area is conveniently located next to Interstate Highway 15 near St George, Utah. This high speed freeway actually divides this tract of public lands and the mountainous section of this park lies to the west. East of the freeway is where the Red Cliffs wilderness is located, which offers a unique red rock desert experience in the lower elevations. The heavily eroded red sandstone outcrops certainly are monumental and exploring these colorful islands in the sea of sagebrush is the main attraction. The hiking trails are clearly marked and roadside parking is available. There are also few old west mining sites to explore, which include Toquerville, historic Babylon and the Stormont Silver Mill at the end of the line near Hurricane, Utah.
Yes, there is a major downside. The start of the east wilderness dirt road is fairly well maintained and it is easy to assume that a regular passenger car can do the trip. However there is lengthy section that is loose and silty on the way to the first hiking trail attraction. A passenger car might be able to get through the "sugar sand" hazard when going downhill, but the trip back up may turn into an impossible dream. A lot of passenger cars get stuck in this section and the towing bill is guaranteed to cost a fortune, so it is best to not risk it if the vehicle is not capable. A high ground clearance vehicle is recommended and a 4x4 will provide a safe return. Airing the 4x4 tires down to 8 PSI is what the locals do for this type of red desert silt, which is something to keep in mind.
Historic Babylon is the most popular hiking destination in the Red Cliffs East Wilderness and this trail certainly is a rewarding experience. Volumes could be written about the geology in this area, which is a mixture of iron oxide rich ancient eroded ocean bottom and volcanic lava flows. There is a towering cliff face composed of crystalized lava columns near Babylon that is fascinating to view. The dirt road passes through an entire fault line reef on the way to Babylon, which is very photogenic. For this reason, be sure to pack a camera along with plenty of water. The Red Cliffs East Wilderness certainly is a great day trip destination and plenty of adventure awaits those who take on the trails!
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*This website will be going through renovations soon. Separate destination articles will be combined after the videos replace the outdated photo gallery system. As many readers know, most of the writing was done on the fly while camping, so many articles read like a rough draft. The articles will be cleaned up and edited. Many of the old photos were straight out of the camera due camping limitations as well, so you will finally see full living color images, just like in the new videos. Another goal is to make navigating the index pages easier and condensing the articles will help. This website will continue into the future and your patience is greatly appreciated!
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