St. George has quickly become one of our favorite destinations close to home. We get a chance to see sunshine and warm up during the crazy Utah winter and spring. Between sports tournaments and three day weekends, we have spent a good of amount of time exploring the red rocks and hidden gems.
My parents’ have a home near Snow Canyon, which is a bit out of town, so we usually arrive, go shopping at Costco and spend our mornings hiking, our afternoons swimming, and eat in. There really is nothing better. I am positive that hiking is the best free family activity out there. Everyone can do it, everyone enjoys it (even if they won’t admit it), it keeps us active, and it allows us to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature. Here are a few you must try (All hikes, etc. are linked to more specific directions and information):
SNOW CANYON HIKES (Park entrance fee $6)
Butterfly Trial: This one is our very favorite, so if you only have time to do one, choose this. It is daring enough to keep the boys interested and moving (the beginning is a little slick and steep) but it is not scary. The last half is fairly flat and allows time to enjoy the views of the red and white rocks on all sides. When the butterfly trail ends, you can turn to your left and hike up a HUGE rock formation. The hike is a little difficult but doable if you are willing to push. The view from the top is unbeatable and a few guys were throwing a frisbee from the top to the bottom which made for some good entertainment. We loved the climb! If you go to your right, you can hike the Lava Tubes.
Lava Tubes: These are also a must. My boys were in love with exploring the deep caves. The average family can climb down for a minute and poke around, but if you are really daring and have head lamps, you can wind through the lava tubes. This is not for the leisurely hiker or for little ones. If you plan on hiking the lava tubes, wear sturdy shoes and pants and preferably a long sleeve shirt since it’s easy to get scraped up. You will also have the chance to climb through small spaces, so if you are claustrophobic, don’t push it.
Marble Mountain: This hike starts in Snow Canyon at the “Upper Galut” trail head. It looks like a nice picnic area, but if you keep walking up the mountain, you can find tons of naturally formed marbles out of the red rock. It is pretty amazing! My kids loved collecting them and seeing how they were formed. As a family we enjoyed hiking up the large rocks to the very top. At times it was steep and for a moment we needed to be on all fours but it wasn’t hard. It also wasn’t crowded at all…a nice bonus!
White Rocks Trail: A little longer hike that allows hikers to also explore the white rock amphitheater. This hike gives views of the white rocks and lava flows with plenty to keep everyone moving and interested.
Sand Dunes: If you have time to stick around and play or if you have little ones that don’t plan on hiking, you can spend hours and hours playing in the warm, soft, red sand. Bring some toys for digging, sunscreen, and some snacks and it is an awesome way to spend the afternoon. One warning, just recently there was a death from someone stepping into a sink hole here. It almost never happens, but be sure to stay together.
Gunlock Reservoir: We would love to do this hike when the water is flowing during the spring and there are waterfalls. We have heard amazing things about it at that time of year, but we have never seen it ( from our research, it rarely happens, but if it does you will need your swimsuit). We still enjoyed our hike though…the boys loved blazing their own trail and really exploring. Best for older kids who don’t need a trail and who like a little adventure, but our little ones were fine too.
Chuckwalla Trail: This is one of the easiest hikes (walks) in St. George but it is beautiful and my boys love it. It’s about 1 mile, but you can turn back whenever you are tired. The path is easy to follow and we even found a tortoise the last time we were there! A perfect beginners hike!
The Glass/Gypsum Mine or Glitter Mountain: This is located just south of St. George (on the Arizona side) and is an abandoned Gypsum mine. It was tough to find, but as we got closer, google maps found it for us when we searched Gypsum Mine. Our kids all loved being there and exploring all the cool rocks. Don’t forget a hammer, chisel and some bags to take your loot home in, they will love it! For more info and directions check HERE.
|Photo via HERE|
|Photo via HERE|
Dixie Rock: There are tons of tunnels and trails at Dixie Rock that can make for a great morning of exploring. This is perfect if you have all ages who like to wander, climb and explore.
|image via HERE|
Padre Canyon Trail: This trail starts in Tuachan and ends in Snow Canyon if you go all the way through. A little adventurous but doable.
Santa Clara Petroglyphs: I cannot even imagine how excited my boys would be to actually discover real petroglyphs! We will definitely be taking this hike on our next trip.
|image via HERE|
Red Reef Trail: This is another of our all time favorite hikes. We got to cliff jump, wade through water, climb through a rope, really a little boy heaven and highly recommended. This hike is fun and scenic and takes you to a natural pool. Park at the Red Cliff’s Campground and take it from there. (warning, there may be no water depending on the time of year and if there is no water, it will be a total bummer)
|image via http://dostgeorge.com/OLD_SITE_MAY_13_11/recreation-areas.html|
We loved this easy hike that was perfect for kids and adults of all ages. There was a variety of scenery and lots of great spots to stop and enjoy the beauty…don’t miss the arch! If you go between March and October, you may need permission from a ranger.
We are dying to try this more intense 5 mile hike located between Cedar City and St. George. The friends of ours who have done it, have it as one of their favorites of all time. This is a water hike and you cannot get through without getting wet. This would be ideal during the hotter southern Utah months.
Zion’s is only a short 45 minutes away from St. George, and is an absolute must see. There are lots of great hikes for families and even one day gives you a great taste of this beautiful place. We took our plan from Joe’s Guide To Zion’s National Park and loved his recommendations. In one day we hiked all three Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, Riverside Walk, and the Canyon Overlook Trail. Fair Warning, we went during a much less crowded time.
Paragon Adventures: On our last trip to St. George we had the COOLEST adventure experience with Paragon Adventures. We were able to rock climb, rappel, hike and zipline in a little known St. George spot. We spent about 5 hours getting our brave on…we climbed higher than we thought we could, descended lower than we dreamed of and flew freely through the air. The entire time we felt incredibly safe and well taken care of. Our guides were amazing in every way and pushed us to try new things and really enjoy all St. George has to offer but made us feel so safe! While the excursions were a good chunk of change (about $130) it was worth every penny to all of us! Such an incredible time.
There are three new to us restaurants in town that we LOVE.
Cliffside: This restaurant is a bit more upscale and has an incredible view. The food was SO good. The salads were delicious and the salmon and fish tacos were perfect. Everyone was thrilled with their dinner. Cliffside also offers a beautiful private dining area if you have a group of 10-16 getting together. We used it for my husband’s 40th birthday dinner and it was quiet, delicious and magical. The staff was fantastic and we could not have asked for a better dining experience. Open for lunch and dinner with prices between $12-$30.
Viva Chicken: This fast casual spot makes healthy food taste good! We love all their salads and their rotisserie chicken is delicious. Wraps are great and we couldn’t get enough of the french fries and tropical drinks. A great way to mix things up!
Even Stevens: Even Stevens has other Utah locations, and we love every single one. This is a great spot for a family breakfast, lunch or dinner. Their breakfast sandwiches are incredible (add the avocado and tomato) as is the stuffed french toast (bonus: breakfast is served all day!). Every sandwich and salad we have eaten is perfect and flavorful. I especially love Turkey Day. And, we never leave without ordering the queso and a cookie or two…trust me on this one. Add to that a super fun atmosphere with games for the whole family, live music and the fact that they donate a sandwich for every sandwich purchased and you have an awesome eating establishment!
If you are looking for other spots to enjoy, here are a few more. Want to add one? Let me know!
Breakfast at Tifiny’s $
Cafe Rio $
Five Guys $
Mad Pita (owners are from Michigan woot! woot!) $
25 and Main $
Benja’s Thai and Sushi $$
Don Pedro’s $
The Egg and I $$
Black Bear Diner $$
Habit Burger $
Piccolo Mondo $$
Wagon Wheel $
Pizza Factory $
Veyo Pies $ (food too!)
Croshaw Pies $ (food too!)
Nielsen Frozen Custard $
The Sugar Cookie $
Fractured Prune Doughnuts $
A FEW OTHER THINGS
Church History: There is lots of Mormon Church History to visit here! It is always fascinating to learn about the early settlers in an area. We stopped at the Brigham Young winter home, the Jacob Hamblin House, the St. George Temple, and the St. George Tabernacle. They have tours going on, but if you have a large group, you can schedule your own.
|trying fresh grapes at the Brigham Young Summer Home|
Tuachan: If you are around May-October, Tuachan is AMAZING…something you will not want to miss.The quality is really impressive and it keeps young and old completely entranced.
|image via HERE|
Parks: St. George has a million parks and splash pads to choose from. You MUST visit the new all abilities park…it is truly the coolest park we have EVER been to!
Thunder Junction All Abilities Park and splash pad
A few other highlights are Cottonwood Cove Park and the Hidden Valley Splash Pad.
(this post has be edited and republished from a former post)