Hike The Vortex Near St. George, Utah
The Vortex Hike located between Dammeron Valley and Gunlock Reservoir has been on our checklist of hikes for awhile now. When the scorching summer temperatures dropped, we finally got around to it. The hike was so unique and enjoyable, that we took our son back up there less than two weeks later.
Located about 20 miles to the northwest of St. George, the moderate 2.2 mile round trip hike in the middle of Navajo Sandstone is, in my opinion, well worth the time and energy.
There are two ways to get to the trailhead, one being located two miles off the dirt road that's across the street from the Gunlock Rodeo Arena. And the other one being off Highway 18, west of Dammeron Valley on the same dirt road that takes you to Upper and Lower Sand Cove.
The hike is uphill until you reach the top of the slick rock where three Vortex like holes in the sand stone are located. It's rated moderately strenuous and unless you're a triathlete, it will get your heart pumping hard, especially the last leg of the hike near the top.
The hike was also a little more difficult to navigate as there aren't any official trail markers guiding you to the top where the Vortex is. Having heard this prior to our hike, we were careful to pay attention to all the cairns hikers had placed along the trail before us and we also looked for heavy foot traffic in the sandy areas.
There isn't much shade along the trail so if you decide to take this hike, be sure to go in the early morning in summer time and the rest of the year, be prepared for direct sunshine all the way to the top. As always in Southern Utah, bring lots of water and take precautions for intense sun exposure; especially on this hike!
The hike took us about three hours the first time because we were stopping to take a lot of pictures along the way. If you don't stop, I'd say allow at least two hours from the time you leave your car.
When you get to the top of the trail, you'll see three or four funnel shaped holes in the slick rock. One is pretty steep and deep and I recently heard of a girl that had fallen in and hurt herself badly enough that she needed rescued by professionals.
If you decide to venture down into the hole, be prepared that it can be difficult to climb out without ropes.
Having lived in the St. George area for 25 years, I'd say that this hike is in my top ten for Southern Utah. There's a great pay off all the way of incredible red rock scenery and once to the top, unique, funnel shaped holes in the slick rock rock not commonly seen, hence the name, The Vortex.