Yant Flat, Dixie National Forest, Utah: Sandstone Drama

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“Quilted” Navajo sandsone at Yant Flat—C.Helbig

It was a fitting end to our last day in southern Utah: a little adventure, some drama, and a whole lot of natural beauty at Yant Flat, in Dixie National Forest near the town of Leeds. During our trip, I had become obsessed with the Dr.Zeuss-like playgrounds of swirling, colourful Navajo sandstone found in these parts. Meghan from Another Walk in the Park recommended Yant Flat (she has three great posts about the place). Yant Flat may not have quite the grandeur of South Coyote Buttes or White Pocket, but it does not require a permit, it’s easier to access, and is totally awesome.

From Sprindgdale, at the edge of Zion National Park, it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Leeds (Exit 23 off I-15 heading south).  From there, it took us almost the same amount of time to travel less than 10 miles along FR 031, a narrow dirt road with sharp hairpins and several rutted sections. It wasn’t too bad until the last mile or so. I can still hear Mike cursing every time the underbelly of our rented Dodge Dart scraped against a rock—his blood pressure rising as thoughts of costly repairs and missing an evening show in Vegas percolated in his mind. It had been my idea to fit in this hike. As we cringed at the sound of another episode of metal meets rock, I suggested we pull over and walk the remaining distance to the trailhead. Luckily we were only about 0.5 miles away.

The trailhead is not marked but if you follow the instructions at the end of the post, you should have no problem finding the path that leads 1.5 miles to Yant Flat. It’s an easy trail on an old 4X4 track that passes through pretty, high desert vegetation—perfect to bring down blood pressure. But, after about 30 minutes I was beginning to wonder when the Navajo sandstone would appear.

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Trail to Yant Flat—C.Helbig

No gradual transition here. Suddenly, the desert forest gave way to a rocky wilderness.  An expansive landscape of white and orange swirls, knolls, and patchwork lay before us. I was super excited about scrambling on the Navajo sandstone. There’s no trail once you get onto the rock, so take note of a few landmarks before you begin exploring.

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Amazing variety of patterns at Yant Flat—C.Helbig

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Lovely rounded and sharp contrasts—C.Helbig

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A sense of scale at Yant Flat—C.Helbig

With our time constraints, we only had about an hour to play on the slickrock. This is a totally fun thing to do and the scenery is out of this world. Despite the name, the slickrock is quite grippy. This is a good thing because there are lots of hills, dips, and ledges. Mike was having a great time, car stress almost forgotten until I led us onto a slope that was just a tad steep for someone who is afraid of heights. He froze like a cat on top of a power pole. After some deep breathing he made it to more level ground. Oops, my mistake; there were definitely easier ways down.

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Not a happy camper on the beautiful but steep slope—C.Helbig

Don’t let the drive or the terrain scare you from going to Yant Flat. It is a really cool place and you’ll likely have it to yourself. The Dodge Dart was not ideal, but we made it. For those who don’t like steep pitches, there’s lots of easy scrambling. For those wanting more adventure, there appear to be many hours of exploration options. I was loath to leave!

There wasn’t much talking in the car until we got to the paved section. I was nervous about the drop-offs, this time on the passenger side, and Mike was intensely focused on staying away from the ruts. We made it to Vegas in plenty of time and miraculously the Dodge looked unscathed (thank God they didn’t check underneath). I’d do this hike again in a heartbeat, but maybe with a different vehicle.

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Contemplating the beauty of Yant Flat—C.Helbig

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Find Mike in the huge expanse of sandstone—C.Helbig

Getting to Yant Flat

These directions were adapted from Synnatschke Photo Blog. They worked perfectly for us.

Directions to the trailhead: Yant Flat and Candy Cliffs are located northeast of St. George within Dixie National Forest and accessed from an improved gravel road. Coming from St. George you’ll leave I-15 at Exit 22, drive the Main street through the town of Leeds for about 1.5 mi until making a left on Silver Reef Road near Exit 23. You may use Exit 23 if you are heading south on I-15 only. Reset your odometer here at the junction Silver Reef Road / Exit 23 and drive northwest for 1.1 mi where Silver Reef Road bends to the left and you’ll keep going straight on Oak Grove Road (FR 032). The pavements ends after 1.5 mi. You will see a lot of dispersed camping areas along the roadside. Further uphill there are some windy, narrow switchbacks, so trailers or RVs are not recommended from there on. After 3.1 mi keep left at the intersection of the forest road 032 and 031, following 031 and the sign that says “St. George 24 mi”. When your odometer shows you are about 10.4 mi away from Exit 23, you will see a dirt road leading to Pine Mountains on your right hand side (FR 903). You arrived at the trailhead (37°14’05”N, 113°28’37”W). Leave your car on a place where it does not block traffic and start your hike on the left side of forest road 031.

Required time: more or less 30 min from Exit 23 or 45 min from St. George. (More for us!)

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This is what you’ll see at the trailhead—C.Helbig

Categories: Hiking, Places, United States | Tags: , , | 29 Comments

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29 thoughts on “Yant Flat, Dixie National Forest, Utah: Sandstone Drama

  1. These pictures are amazing and that looks like a really fun hike. I hope to visit here one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 100th Post: Ten Places that have “Stuck with Me” | Writes of Passage

  3. Amazing photographs! I would definitely fall over if I would try to climb these sandstones 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Dixie National Forest, Utah – Nomad Advocate

  5. Always a Foreigner

    Those colors and formations! It seems that I’m constantly seeing new fantastic places to visit in Utah. It looks like a trip is soon in order to experience these amazing places for myself. Thanks for sharing.
    Caren

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you Caren. Utah is so awesome and there is a lifetime-worth of places to explore/hikes to do. It’s one of the few places we’ve been to multiple times because we love it so much. Wish I lived closer. I hope you get there. If you’re not already following “Another Walk in the Park” (mentioned in my into) this is a great blog mostly about hiking in Utah. I have got lots of tips from Meghan. Cheers, Caroline

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am running out of superlative adjectives to describe the places and photos. The ultimate compliment, your pics and description make us want to go there Caroline–thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those rock formations and surfaces are unbelievable! Amazing. Looks a bit like crusy bread with a design in the crust! Yup, I would freeze out of fear too if there were a sheer drop or too much height! Horrors! He definitely has my sympathy. Glad you made it to the show!
    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That terrain!The colour, the texture of the rocks, the starkness and the blue skies contrasting so startlingly against it – I love it. Though the rocks don’t look that grippy to me. Oh, some day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mike Hohmann

    I have no interest in Vegas, but I sure like your backcountry travels in southern Utah. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel much the same, but Vegas is a great access point for flying from Vancouver. Actually, seeing a great show on our last night after 10 days of amazing nature was pretty nice.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The surroundings are breathtaking and the photos too ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun place! I have never heard of Yant Flat, but it looks like it has to go on the list now 🙂 Looks like a giant playground..

    Liked by 1 person

    • You guys should definitely do this, plus it’s a lot closer for you. I don’t think it’s that well known and the trailhead is not marked. It also goes by the name Candy Cliffs. There are some camping spots on the side of the gravel road leading to Yant Flat.

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  12. Great post, Caroline! I’m glad you enjoyed it and that you all (including the car) emerged unscathed. I’ve also made the mistake of trying to descend the steep sections of sandstone there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a fabulous place. I’d love to go scrambling all over there. I can see why you didn’t want to leave.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks to you, my UT itinerary is bursting at the seams with incredible hikes, and now I’m trying to scheme a way to squeeze in Yant Flat, too. Seriously, I want to climb into your photos. Unbelievably gorgeous, and that sand stone is magnificent. The gang would love this–a slickrock playground! Like you, we’ll be renting, too (likely a compact), though I like your park and walk idea. We have 3 hrs. post-Zion, though I’m not sure it’ll be enough. Where’s Hermione’s time turner when you need it? Thank you for sharing this gem!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, I’m happy to take some of the blame for your packed itinerary. I’m sure you and your gang would enjoy playing on the slickrock. Hmmm, 3 hours, that’s a tough call…could be a bit tight. I’m with you about jumping into my photos. The weather has been so awful here, I’m ready to return to Utah/Arizona. I look forward to reading about your upcoming adventures.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Looks like it could be a bit tricky walking down some of that sandstone. I think this area is the only reason as to why I would put Vegas on my itinerary.Glad you all got back in one piece, car included. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Louise. The beautiful nature near Vegas is what brings me back to that city. Flights are relatively cheap from Vancouver and it doesn’t take long to get to places like Dixie National Forest and Zion National Park. Red Rocks Canyon, which I’ve not been to but have heard great things about is only 30 minutes from Vegas. Cheers, Caroline

      Liked by 1 person

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