Winter at Snow Canyon

While we have really been enjoying the snow around here, sometimes it is fun to escape during the winter and head south to slightly warmer weather.  During winter break last month we decided to escape the snow and inversion and head down to St George.

While the St George area is very well known for it’s proximity to Zion National Park, not everyone knows about all the other incredible State Parks and Recreational Areas that Southern Utah has to offer.  One of our favorites is Snow Canyon State Park.  We were absolutely blown away by our visit this December.  It was stunning and we practically had the whole park to ourselves.

Snow Canyon is extremely family friendly.  It is less than 15 miles from St George and it is only $6 per vehicle.  Click here for the website with even more info!

This park is perfect for kids of all ages.  There are sand dunes to play in, mini slot canyons, petrified sand dunes, moss covered canyon walls, red rock, white rock, climbing opportunities and volcanoes!  There are so many short trails which are great for the younger ones!  No need to worry about hauling your kids miles and miles to get to something interesting.  If you are up for longer and more challenging trails, you’ll find them here too, there is something for every level.  You will find something unique around every corner.

December temps were in the upper 40’s when we went and it was perfectly enjoyable.  We stayed all afternoon and even had a picnic lunch.  We left with the longing to return, and can’t wait until next time.  Below I’ve highlighted a few of the trails.  Enjoy!

Link to park brochure and trail guide.

JENNY’S CANYON TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (.5 mile round trip, sandy trail with some rocks)

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PIONEER NAMES TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (.5 miles roundtrip, sandy trail with some rocks, rock scaling up to the actual name carvings is not easy)

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PETRIFIED DUNES TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1.2 miles round trip, some steeps slopes/uneven surfaces)

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WHITE ROCKS AMPHITHEATER TRAIL

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1 mile round trip, some steep/rocky slopes and uneven surfaces)

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Buffalo Point Trail

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Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (.8 mile round trip with uphill climb to top, rocks to climb and explore on top)

Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved Antelope Island.  I don’t even have a particularly good reason.  I think it just felt magical to me.  So close to home, yet you feel like you are on some grand adventure.  I’ve loved going back as an adult and taking my kids.  The views are grand, you will most likely spot some wildlife, and there are rocks for climbing, and beaches to explore.

Buffalo Point Trail is a great family friendly hike.  It isn’t very long (.4 miles one way so just under a mile round trip) and the views at the top, along with all the fun rocks to climb and explore, makes it a great place to take your family on an adventure.  We most recently went last July in the evening and it was perfect, this is a great sunset hike in the summer.  This trail doesn’t really have shade so it is best to go in the morning or evening during the summer.  Spring can be a great time to go to Antelope Island as well, but make sure you check their website or call ahead and make sure you aren’t going to be there during biting gnat season, trust me it isn’t fun.  (Biting gnat season is usually April-June) As with any hike it is always important to be prepared.  Bug spray, sunscreen, water and snacks are always important.  When my daughter was younger it was always important we had a carry option as well.  After finally learning to walk at 18 months, she had only a couple of months walking experience by the time we went on this hike.  I carried her up to the point, but she was very anxious to get out and explore and climb, then she went back in my baby carrier on the way down.  Little children with limited walking experience can tire quickly so this is a good thing to remember if you are taking them with you, make sure you have a comfortable option to carry them if needed.

Here are some pictures and highlights.  I can’t wait to share some other great trails Antelope Island has to offer.

Here is the link to the Antelope Island State Park website with maps of trails and other info.

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Valley of Fire State Park: Part 1

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate (1 mile loop, sandy trail and rocky decent)

Last week we ventured to Henderson, Nevada for spring break to visit family, and enjoy some warmer weather.  We have spent many vacations in the Las Vegas area and I always get asked what we do.  When most people think of Las Vegas they think of the Strip and Casinos, not quite what they would consider a family friendly destination.  The Las Vegas area actually hosts some of the most beautiful and interesting outdoor adventures.  Each time we go we find new places to explore.  I can’t wait to share some of our past experiences as well.

Just over an hour outside of Las Vegas you will find Valley of Fire State Park.   Click HERE for more information on the park.  We were excited to venture out to this park for the day and do some exploring.  We looked up the map of trails, decided on a few we wanted to try, and left after breakfast.

We may have been overly ambitious thinking we could take on 3-4 trails that day.  We ended up doing 2 and arriving home around 3:30 pm exhausted.  Here are some tips if you want to venture to Valley of Fire State Park with your family.

TIPS

  1. Hiking in sand is much more difficult than hiking on nice hard flat ground, especially for young children.  Almost all of the trails at this park include sand, and lots of it.  The sand was especially difficult for my 2-year-old and we carried her part of the time.
  2. Many of these trails have little to no shade.  This is probably not the best park to visit in the middle of summer.  Sunscreen, hats and plenty of water is a must.
  3. The age of your kids will matter here.  Young kids will maybe be able to finish one hike.  You will probably have a more enjoyable time just hanging out in the sand, exploring rocks, and having a picnic, rather than doing a full hike.  Older kids will be able to do more hiking, but plan on it being longer and more tiring.

Driving through the park is a beautiful scenic drive on its own.  Even if you didn’t do any hiking and just drove around, had a nice picnic, and did some exploring it would be more than worth it for the beautiful scenery.

The first trail we decided to take on was the White Domes Loop.  A mile loop trail that included unique rock formations, a narrow slot canyon, and lots and lots of sand.

WHITE DOMES LOOP

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So much sand!

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The trail starts off with a fairly steep rocky decent.

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My son was always on the lookout for shade, sometimes you had to be a little creative.

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The kids loved playing in the sand.

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This is just a short slot canyon, but it was still fun to venture through.

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My 2-year-old has to follow my 6-year-old everywhere, and she’s pretty good at it!

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The desert is a beautiful place.

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We found the perfect spot for a nice break to refuel.

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Despite the sand, my kids managed to survive and we finished the whole loop in about 1.5 hours.  Stay tuned for part 2 of this adventure where I go into detail about the 2nd hike we explored.