On Dec. 9, SUU Outdoors led a trip of eight students to the Lava Tubes in Snow Canyon State Park. The trip was originally planned for Bloomington Cave, west of Saint George, however, the Bureau of Land Management didn’t accept the group’s permit requests in time for the excursion.
Trip leaders Sarah Jones and Jericka Jorgensen changed the destination to the Lava Tubes last minute in hopes to still provide an adventurous experience for their group members.
“Especially with outdoor trips, things don’t ever go as planned,” Jones said. “As a leader, you have to be adaptable … Eventually you can always have a great time outside.”
Bloomington Cave, the fifth longest cave in Utah, is 1.43 miles in length and has many passages which require crawling for several feet. The cave takes approximately four hours round trip to survey. In contrast, Snow Canyon’s Lava Tubes stretch for less than a mile long with fewer and shorter tight passages. Though many of the students were disappointed in the change of plans at first, the Lava Tubes proved a great experience for everyone.
“I’m glad we did these caves instead,” said freshman, Tomas Langholtz. “This [was] my first time caving and I think it was better preparation for more advanced caves like Bloomington.”
The trail from the parking lot to the Lava Tubes is 2.4 miles, giving the group time to hike and socialize before entering the tubes. Each participant was required to descend in a single file line, wear a helmet and headlamp and assist one another in various sections of the cave. Once reaching the 100foot wide cave at the end of the tubes, everyone turned off their lights and experienced complete darkness.
After exploring the Lava Tubes, the team ate packed lunches together at a picnic area further into Snow Canyon. Reaching the high 50s in temperature, everyone enjoyed sitting in the sun and chatting together. A few group members hiked to the top of a neighboring red rock to see a panoramic view of the whole canyon.
Snow Canyon State Park is located just north of Ivins Utah. There is an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle. The Lava Flow Trailhead is located 3.6 miles north of the south entry station.
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