Out and Back
Start north on Bluff Street, which turns into State Road 18. You’ll be on this road for about 18 miles. Near the end of Dammeron Valley, take a left on a dirt road named Lower Sand Cove Road. Follow this road for 5 miles until you pass Upper Sand Cove Reservoir. On your left will be what looks like an abandoned building. Around a football field’s distance past that building, make a left onto a more rugged dirt road. This turn is just before a ditch that has water in it and can be easy to miss. This is the parking area, and the trail starts at the back left of the parking area.
The Vortex is a short hike up into a rolling formation of sandstone set among the high desert scrub of this region. The whole trail is enjoyable and offers fun views and rock formations to take in along the way, like the two large sandstone mounds on your right that resemble a double hump on a camel.
The main feature of the trail is a bizarre, sunken hole the size of a camper set high up on the rock formation. Its namesake derives from this hole, as it does look like a perfect bowl or even a swirling vortex frozen in the process of sucking you in. You may get the feeling you’re in the Sarlacc pit from “Return of the Jedi”, just less sandy. From this high perch you can also take in the views of the small town of Gunlock to the west. This trail is the perfect taste of the Southern Utah desert in an off-the-beaten-path trail.