The Butterfly Trail is a great introduction to the diverse scenery of Snow Canyon State Park. Highlights include petrified sand dunes, an open lava tube, and a scenic overlook.
This trail has very little elevation change and is particularly good for young children and beginners looking to get out and do some exploring.
The Butterfly Trailhead (37.215667,-113.643843) is located on the west side of Snow Canyon Road, approximately 2.7 miles from the south entrance of Snow Canyon State Park. The trailhead is signed "Petrified Dunes/Butterfly."
The trailhead features trashcans and parking for about a dozen cars. No restroom facilities are available.
From the parking area, begin hiking on the well-maintained trail headed west. Soon you will encounter a junction and the first of many helpful signs that will keep you headed in the right direction.
Bear right here, following the signs for Butterfly Trail and Lava Flow Trail. Pay careful attention as the trail passes over a few short sections of slick rock where it may be slightly more difficult to follow.
At approximately 0.6 miles, the Butterfly trail intersects the Lava Flow Trail. Turn left (south) onto the Lava Flow Trail and continue about 200 feet to the next junction where there is a sign indicating the overlook ahead.
You may continue straight to the overlook or turn right for a short walk to visit the lava tube.
To reach the overlook, follow the trail to the base of the sandstone dome and then scramble work your way around either side until you reach a prominent viewpoint on the south end at 37.218462,-113.649975.
NOTE: There is no clear trail to the overlook, so if you are not comfortable with a little climbing and navigating off-trail, you may want to appreciate the view from a point you are more comfortable with.
Over the years many people have scratched their names and initials into the rock at the overlook. Please help preserve the wilderness experience for others and do not add to the graffiti.
If you passed up the lava tube on your way to the overlook, it is well worth a few minutes to take a look on the way out. To reach the lava tube, return to the junction with the overlook sign. About 100 feet down the trail in the other direction is an interpretive sign next to the open lava tube.
The tube is an impressive sight with an opening nearly 75 feet long by 45 feet wide. If you are comfortable with a little climbing, it is possible to enter the tube from the south side near the sign. The north end of the lava tube continues underground for a short distance before becoming impassable.
After seeing the lava tube, make your way back to the Butterfly/Lava Flow Junction for the return hike to the trailhead. Total round trip mileage with a side trip to the overlook and lava tube is roughly 1.6 miles.
Rules and Regulations
- All vehicles entering Snow Canyon State Park must pay a day use fee of $6 per vehicle.
- Camping is available in the park for an additional fee.
- No pets allowed.
- Stay on marked trails.
- Pack out what you pack in.
This hike can be very hot during summer. Make sure all members of your group carry enough water. Hike early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the hottest times of day.