Searching for Babylon Arch

A Fun, Family Friendly Hike at Sand Mountain

Categories: Family Friendly, Hiking, Road Trips, Utah

The Babylon Arch trail is a sandy but scenic hike from a sandstone mountain down to the Virgin River, south of Leeds and Silver Reef. Although it’s only 1.5 miles it can be scorching hot during the summer and it is a strenuous 1.5 miles back up due to being in sand. The trailhead is on a spur road about halfway down the Babylon Road. Babylon, which i have written three times already, was a town of Gentiles centered around the old Stormont Mill. The mill processed silver ore, an unusual substance to be mining out of sandstone. The mines and the road follow a groove in a highly tilted anticline.

We drove down the road a few miles past the turn off for the trail to look at some mines and rock art. The mines generally area uninteresting and either buried or gated shut. The petroglyphs were pretty neat  and along a shady wall where a stream has somehow cut through a rock wall. I enjoyed the petroglyphs but from what i’ve seen I didn’t have much interest in visiting the old town site. There isn’t much there except some foundations and the burned remains of a vacation home built by former US State Dept. Official John Vought.

Babylon Road is like a miniature version of Cottonwood Valley Road many miles to the East, or even old Notom Road, for that matter.

There are some petroglyphs on a high wall at a point where a stream has somehow cut through the endless rock barrier along the road. I believe the point where it does so was also the original Babylon Wagon Road.

Back at the trail as we descended through a maze of chopped up sandstone formations we were having a very hard time finding the arch. I think it was because the sun at that time of year was shining straight into our faces, making details hard to see below shady cliffs. We never did see it, but afterwards i realized i had taken a couple of pictures of it, but from the wrong angle. Not finding the arch was OK because there are plenty of other sights to enjoy along the way.

The parking area is huge and there are leftover campfire rings every 16 feet.

The side of Sand Mountain, is… SANDY

There’s so much sand things tend to get buried in the wind. I hoped my car wasn’t buried before we got back.

The hike down to the river is immediately cool with all kinds of places to wander off and explore the rocks.

The trail descends through some seriously busted up sandstone. There is a chance to lose the trail, which might not be desirable on a triple digit day.

According to the vague map which was more like an illustration, the arch was supposed to be right around here. We could see one in the lower right but we didn’t think it was worthy of having a name.

Babylon Arch is over in front of these sandstone fins. I think it’s just outside the right side of this picture, but i never saw it from the right angle that day.

Down at the Virgin River there are some tunnels in the cliffside.

It’s very easy to get down to the river but coming back up is a serious trudge through some deep sand.

Kona cools her feet.

It was a lot shadier on the way back.

Back up at Sand Mountain we took our time exploring some of the neat nooks and crannys.

A few small arches and windows can be found.

The old mines are frequently visited by fans of Anheuser-Busch

Another nice desert sunset.

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