Hiking Yant Flat & “Candy Cliffs” At Sunset: A Must In St. George, Utah
Y’all, I have no words. Yant Flat and its “Candy Cliffs” are often called Utah’s version of Arizona’s famous “Wave”, and are truly a hidden gem.
Located only a short drive from St. George (which is a great base for exploring multiple national and state parks in the area), this hike is also much easier to get to and significantly less crowded than the Wave. If you’re planning a trip to southern Utah, you should definitely consider adding this to your itinerary.
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Is it worth hiking Yant Flat for sunset?
Because there was such a blistering heat wave while we were there (upper 90s F in October!) and because I’d seen beautiful pictures of Yant Flat at sunset, we decided to give that a try.
So should you try to see the “Candy Cliffs” at sunset? Is it worth it? On balance, my answer is yes, but there definitely are some pros and cons.
Pros: Well, just look at these pics! Gorgeous sunset colors hitting the colored rocks. Peaceful and pretty hike. You also miss the heat of the day, and since there was a bizarre heat wave while we were there, it was blistering hot midday.
Cons: You’ll be hiking back in the dark (and driving back in the dark), both of which can be a bit tricky and dangerous. You also may not have as much time to really explore the area (unless you head there early).
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How to get to Yant Flat
You can find the parking area and trailhead by using Google Maps (yes, just entering “Yant Flat Trailhead” got us to the right place, though the parking area isn’t marked or anything).
Let’s talk about the road itself for a minute. You’ll get off I-15 and take some smaller roads, then hit an unpaved dirt road. I’d read beforehand that you need a vehicle with 4WD, and I definitely agree. First, if the road is muddy then I wouldn’t recommend undertaking it. But if it’s dry then the road itself isn’t terrible…a bit of washboard road at times, and then some areas where the gravel gets really thick and squirrely.
What’s disconcerting is the sheer, insane cliff dropping off on one side of the road, making any driving mistake potentially disastrous. As long as you’re careful, go slow, and have 4WD you should be fine. Also beware that you will lose cell signal during parts of the drive.
Though we had a fun challenge on our way home….more on that later.
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Finding the trailhead
Once we got parked and sunscreened up (well Casey did, since she’s translucent), we tried to figure out where the trailhead was.
First, let’s talk about the WRONG place. Because the trailhead isn’t marked, we had to guess, and we ended up guessing wrong. Below is NOT the correct one though it kind of looks legit. You’ll walk for awhile and then it just…ends. So don’t go this way.
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Now for the *right* trail…
We walked back across the road and found the actual trail—also known as Anna’s View Point Trail—with two large rocks in front of it (terrible photo at the end of this post). For clarity, as you’re driving up to the parking area, the trailhead on your left. Because we’d gone the wrong direction for a while, we were really pressed for time since we wanted to catch the sunset.
I wish I’d had more time to really enjoy the hike, but was hurrying quite a lot…it’s really a lovely, peaceful hike though!
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The trail takes you to Yant Flat through about a mile and a half of low forest and scrub. There are so many interesting cacti, profusions of desert flowers, and it was all even more beautiful with the pink and gold sun dropping on the horizon.
The last half of the hike (maybe 3/4 of a mile? It feels SOOOO much longer) is thick powdery sand that makes walking (quickly) more difficult, so be prepared for that. Having walking sticks or something for balance could be helpful.
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And then you hit Yant Flat and the “Candy Cliffs”. All of a sudden the vista opens up and you’re on your own to explore…the trail somewhat abruptly ends.
We’d had to really hustle, but we made it for sunset by the skin of our teeth. And BOY, what a sunset it was!
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I was in awe of the insane geology, forming tons of intricate rock formations and patterns. The cream, peach, rust, and pale pink swirls of rocks really blazed to life with the rich sunset reds and golds hitting them,
We ran around snapping photos like lunatics, just grinning at each other. There wasn’t a soul around except the four of us (there had been a couple leaving as we arrived, then we had the place to ourselves).
And in addition to the colors and rock formations, you have THAT VIEW.
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I love these couple of shots because you can really see some of the intricate patterns on the rocks.
And I love a good silhouette!
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As promised, it isn’t pretty, but here’s a photo of the trailhead. These two rocks kind of “guard” the path.
We were careful walking back in the dark to avoid a twisted ankle, piled into the Jeep, and suuuuuper carefully headed back down the dirt road.
And then this happened…no idea what caused it, but we had a massive hole in our rear tire. We went from 30+ pounds of air to completely flat in less than 5 minutes. Thankfully we kept going a bit as the pressure dropped and got back in cell signal, which gave us some options.
After calling AAA and multiple local mechanics, no one would come out on the dirt road to help us. So we had to change the tire ourselves. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal except we were on a dirt road, on a decline, in the dark, on the side of a cliff. It was quite the ordeal since the jack wouldn’t go up high enough and we had to dig out space under the tire to get the new one on. Make sure you have a good spare.
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The silver lining was being able to soak in the intensity of the stars out there in the clear night sky, without any light pollution to interfere. This plus the sunset really took my breath away.
While I would have loved even more time up on the Candy Cliffs to explore every nook and cranny, I’m so happy we managed to fit in our sunset adventure. If you’re interested, here’s the beautiful condo we rented in St. George for our entire stay!
Tips for hiking Yant Flat & Candy Cliffs, Utah
- Be prepared for the road: I’d read beforehand that you need a vehicle with 4WD, and I’d generally agree. If the road is muddy, I wouldn’t recommend it (and definitely not with a car). If the road is dry, then be careful and go slow, but you should be okay… a bit of washboard and some thick, squirrely gravel, with sheer drop-offs and no guardrails. Going at off-times can help too (less traffic).
- Note, we couldn’t find a mechanic to come out with a tow truck on the dirt road, so you’d be on your own if something goes wrong.
- You can find the parking area and trailhead by using Google Maps (yes, entering “Yant Flat Trailhead” should get you there); the parking area isn’t marked, nor is the trailhead.
- Beware that you will lose cell signal during parts of the drive.
- Be sure to check sunset times if you’re wanting to catch the sunset, and leave extra time.
- The trailhead is on your left as you drive up on the dirt road. It’s about 1.5 miles each way (plus more if you explore around the flats), and about half of the hike is a thick sand that makes walking a bit more challenging. Otherwise it’s a fairly easy flat hike and anyone that’s moderately fit and mobile should be able to do it. I always find the comments on All Trails helpful.
- The trail is almost entirely exposed, so avoid the heat of the day and bring plenty of water (sunset hiking helps, less heat). There are no facilities, and you should make sure to “leave no trace”.
- If you’re a nighttime astrophotographer, you can get some beautiful star shots out here at night.
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