What would you consider as the perfect date to do with your spouse or significant other? Romantic dinner? Dancing? Movie? What about hiking through a semi-desert area with lizards, rabbits, sand and rock? Well, a couple of weeks ago I took Mama Nomad on that date, to hike to the Babylon Arch, and followed it up with a hardy meal to replenish our calories. Guess what? She said it was the perfect date for her! Score one for Daddy Nomad!
Just north of the City of Leeds, Utah (which is about 12 miles north of St. George) is a road called E 900 N. You have to exit I-15 and drive the frontage road to access it. Once you get to it, driving north, you will turn right (east) down E 900 N where you will see a sign that says Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. You will drive on this for about 3 miles. The road will turn from a gravel one to a thoroughfare that is dirt and rock (uneven and bumpy). I do not suggest this with a car that is low to the ground. You will want to turn left at the Sand Cove Trail and park in the parking lot.
In the parking lot, you will see a structure with information and a map. This is where the trail head is. You will step over a small barrier designed to keep motorized vehicles out. This path will follow alongside a wash where a river flows when there is rain. Eventually, you will come to a point to cross it. Continue forward and keep to the right. Within a hundred yards or so, you will see an alternate trail head sign to the left (do not take it), continue to the right. Within about 25 to 40 yards, you will arrive at a primitive camp ground, there is a sign.
The trail continues on the opposite side of the campground. You will see the same calf high barrier, that stops motorized vehicles from continuing on, at the trail continuance as well as a sign that states “Arch” on it. Step over the vehicle barrier and as soon as you get down the short hill, immediately make a right. You will follow this path through the rocks and cliffs until you come out on an opening. One of the best tips I can give you is to look for the paths that have the most tracks (human and horse). That is likely the one you want to take. There are signs stating “Arch” along the way. But the pathway is not always clearly defined.
You will eventually come to a large outcropping of rocks with a steep sandy hill to your right (as you are facing the Virgin River, which you can see from here). This is where you make a sharp right and head down that sandy hill. Enjoy the decent down. But, I will forewarn you, keep water and energy in reserve. The climb back up will challenge your stamina and burn your calories.
When you reach the bottom of the sandy hill, the Babylon Arch will be up and to the left. If you are in the correct area, you can’t mis it. Mama Nomad and I enjoyed the arch and the view of the Virgin River. Around us stood cliffs of rocks, like giants. The total hike, there and back, it about 1 and 2/3 mile. Calculating the amount of time it took us to get here, we marveled, took in the view and began our trek back. We did not want to be caught out here in the dark.
We made it back up the steep, sandy hill, saw a tortoise or two on the way as well as a few people on horseback. Again, remember, the trail back, much like the trail there, is not well-defined. This is a good hike to know your magnetic direction. It will help you navigate back safely. We arrived back at Ebony covered in red dust and sand from head to toe. Perfect attire for a night out of fine dining. What a great hike and, ultimately, a fun and unique date. Safe Travels.