This classic St. George area hike takes hikers on a fascinating journey through the geologic diversity of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. The unique contrast of colorful red and yellow sandstone domes alongside ancient basalt lava flows provides an excellent backdrop for a hike. This trail is generally easy with some short, steep sections and areas of deep sand that may be difficult for some.
The Yellow Knolls Trailhead (37.190077, -113.578085) is located on Cottonwood Springs Road, about 6.0 miles north of St. George, Utah.
From I-15 in St. George
- Take Exit 8 for St. George Blvd. and continue west to 1000 East.
- Turn right onto 1000 East and continue north to Red Hills Parkway.
- Turn right onto Red Hills Parkway and continue 0.8 miles.
- Turn left onto Cottonwood Springs Road.
- Continue for 5.7 miles to the signed Yellow Knolls Trailhead on the right. The road becomes gravel but is passable to regular passenger cars in dry conditions.
From the trailhead, the first of the colorful domes that makes up Yellow Knolls is clearly visible in the distance. Begin hiking down the well-worn trail northeast, generally headed toward the large sandstone dome ahead. The trail descends through a grassy field before beginning to climb a small drainage. The left canyon wall is lined with basalt boulders while the right is solid red and yellow sandstone domes, providing a fascinating combination of contrasting colors and textures.
The canyon is somewhat narrow for about one half mile before opening up into a wide, sandy area with the picturesque Yellow Knolls and their fascinating checkerboard patterns now visible on the right. Soon the trail begins to climb again as the Yellow Knolls Trail approaches its end at the junction with High Point Trail (37.211818, -113.575142). Turn around and return the way you came at any time. Round-trip hiking distance for the entire Yellow Knolls Trail is just short of 4.0 miles.
Rather than returning via the Yellow Knolls Trail, some hikers may wish to continue on the High Point Trail and return to the trailhead via the Cottonwood Springs Road. This creates a loop and offers unique scenery for the entire hike. To complete the loop, turn left onto the High Point Trail (west) and continue to the Black Gulch Trailhead (37.206583, -113.583265) on the Cottonwood Springs Road. Once at the road, walk south back to the Yellow Knolls Trailhead. The distance of the loop is still about 4 miles, so it is not any shorter but does provide a different view and perhaps faster walking. If you have two cars in your group, you can shorten the hike by placing a car at the Black Gulch Trailhead at the beginning of the hike.
Rules and Regulations
- Dogs must be leashed.
- Clean up after pets.
- No littering.
- Stay on designated trails.
- No camping.
This hike can be very hot during the summer and in the middle of the day. Very little shade is available. Bring plenty of water for each member of your group. Hike in the morning or evening for cooler temperatures.