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Southern Utah is known for Zion and Bryce National parks but there is so much more to do and see, especially with children. The area is filled with wonderful neighborhood parks, tons of history and historical areas, several State Parks and even ghost towns. It seems like there is a park, playground or pond in almost every area of the Southern Utah. Washington County actually wants to have a park or pond accessible to every residential area that is within walking distance and they are doing a good job of providing that. Here are just a couple of our favorite parks/playgrounds for the kids.

Downtown St. George City….

Dixie Rock at Pioneer Park

Every visit to Southern Utah should include a visit to Pioneer Park (a.k.a. Dixie Rock). This is actually a city park that encompasses 52 acres of incredible hiking, rock climbing, slot canyons and caves. There area areas to have an afternoon picnic, BBQ or just to take a well-deserved rest scattered throughout the park. From the top of the Dixie Rock you can see the entire St. George valley, White Dome, Zion National Park and Arizona. While you are there don’t forget to hike up to Scouts Cave and try to go through the “slot canyon”. Both very popular places in the park.

Red Hills Desert Garden

Right next to the Dixie Rock is one of the newest parks in Southern Utah is Red Hills Desert Garden. This is the first desert conservation garden the state of Utah. The park includes a man-made stream with water pumped directly from the Virgin River with 6 native fish species as well as over 170 species of drought tolerant plants. There is a replica of a slot canyon that towers well over 7 feet in the air. While walking around in the slot canyon you will find a fantastic area where there are acrylic windows placed in the faux rock. These windows allow you to get a peak at the aquatic life living in the river. Parts of the river are made to be crossed because you will find huge rock stepping stones to navigate over to get to the other side. There is plenty of seating scattered throughout the park as well.

Town Square and Carousel

Just south of the Dixie Rock is the Town Square with a splash pad, lazy river, a vintage carousel and the Children’s Museum. This is a truly wonderful town square and park. The main attraction is the lazy river and the splash pad. The man-made river meanders through out the greater portion of the park. There is a rock waterfall on the north end of the river that flows into very shallow water where the kids can bet their feet wet but still be safe. There are also large sitting rocks in the middle of the river to relax on. You can’t miss the splash pad for great summer fun. This is the largest splash pad in Southern Utah and is usually filled with kids cooling off. To the west side of the park is the Vintage Carousel where people of all ages can go for a spin on their favorite horse or in a carriage seat. There is ample seating, shade and picnic areas, bathrooms and huge grass areas throughout the Town Square as well.

The Children’s Museum

Just next door to the town square is the Children’s Museum. The museum is fairly new and a favorite in the community. It is free for all children to enter and explore. The museum encompasses 3 floors and 10,000 square feet. Your children will be able to explore everything from prehistoric animals, milking “cows”, pretending to be a knight in a castle, a mechanic working on cars and so much more. They have a sports room, science, music, art and theater exhibits as well as an airport where every child can be the pilot! The Children’s Museum also has special exhibits throughout the year and is a favorite place for most of the local children to be free and creative.

Thunder Junction Park

The newest park on the south west side of St. George is Thunder Junction. Thunder Junction is the only all abilities park created for children in Southern Utah. Thunder Junction features a volcano pavilion for parties, lunch, etc. If you use the BBQ grill, then the volcano actually starts smoking to simulate an eruption! This prehistoric themed city park has everything from splash pads to water features to a vast amount of playground equipment. Everything in the park has been made so that a handicapped child can still have just as much fun as anyone else. There are handicapped accessible ziplines, swings, water features as well as a train ride that circles the park and crosses the park to give everyone a fun scenic tour of the park. There is a massive dinosaur with a double slide built in the tail and a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull that sprays water out of its mouth. Thunder Junction is truly a unique park for everyone of all ages.

Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum

The Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum occupies more than 35,000 sq. feet where visitors can see over 300 different species of animals found throughout the world all displayed in their natural habitat. Different parts of the world make up the displays. There is the mountains of Asia, the plains of Africa and the forests of North America. One of the main highlight of the museum is the 2-story mountain. The mountain has waterfalls and speakers that give the sounds of the animals and even a periodic thunder and lightening storm can be heard. You will see preserved animals such as mountain lions, elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, buffalo, crocodiles, giraffes and even a snarling cheetah as well as a vast variety of birds. There are also 100’s of insects and a wonderful butterfly collection. There is also a large kid’s room that has a full-size tree house, reading nooks, climbing area, a camping play area and a large variety of animal pelts, fur and horns that the children can touch and explore. Just outside of the museum is one of the best information and gift shops in the area.

The National parks are a must see but don’t forget about visiting the local parks as well.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon has some great hiking trails without all the crowds of the South Rim. While you are hiking at the North Rim remember to keep a look out for California condors, regarded as one of the rarest birds in the world. By the 1980’s fewer than two dozen condors lived in the wild. Grand Canyon National Park has participated in the condor reintroduction program with encouraging results. As many as 73 condors have been known to soar over the area, thus making the park one of the easiest places to view California Condors

 

Cape Royal Trail

The trail to Cap Royal and Angel’s Window both begin at the Cape Royal parking lot. This is a flat paved trail and is handicapped accessible. You will have magnificent views of Angel’s Window, the inner canyon and the Colorado River. There are also interpretive markers along the way to explain the natural history of the area. (0.5 miles, 30 minutes)

 

Transept Trail

This is one of the easiest trails, is very well maintained, easy to follow and handicapped accessible. The Park Service does often offer a Ranger Talk that takes you along part of this trail. The Transept Trail runs between the North Rim Campground and the Grand Canyon Lodge. (1.5 miles, 2 hours)

bright-angel-trail-tunnelBright Angel Point Trail

Just a short walk from the Grand Canyon Lodge is the Bright Angel Point trail. This is an easy, self-guided nature trail that leads you to a spectacular view of the canyon. Here you can see and hear the sounds of Roaring Spring which is more than 3,000 feet below the Rim. (Approx. 1.5 miles, 30 minutes)

 

The Uncle Jim Trail

This trail will bring you out to Uncle Jim’s Point where you have fantastic views of the upper portion of the North Kaibab Trail. The Uncle Jim Trail winds through the alpine forest to a point overlooking the canyon. This trail begins at the North Kaibab Trail parking lot. (Approx. 5 miles, 3 hours)

 

Widforss Trail

The Widforss Trail has a great blending of forest and canyon scenery. This trail provides an excellent view of the Buddha Temple. The trail starts at the Widforss Trail parking area which is one mile down the dirt Point Sublime Road and one-quarter mile south of Cape Royal Road turnoff. (Approx. 10 miles, 6 hours)

 

North Kaibab Trail

This trail is the only maintained trail into the canyon from the North Rim. On this trail you will get an nkappreciation for the beauty and immense size of the canyon. The trail ends at Bright Angel Campground and the Colorado River.  This trail is not recommended as a day hike and it is strenuous. If you want to make a day hike out of this trail then go off onto the Coconion Overlook (1.5 miles round trip) or the Supai Tunnel (4 miles round trip) (9.4 miles, 6 to 8 hours)

 

Ken Patrick Trail

This trail takes you from the trail head along the northern drainage of Bright Angel Canyon. You will wind through the forest and along the rim from Point Imperial to the North Kaibab Trail parking area. THIS IS NOT AN EASY TRAIL AND CAN BECOME DIFFICULT IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO FOLLOW. (Approx. 10 miles one way, 12 hours)

 

Some of the best times of the year to hike these trails are in May, September and in early October. The park is closed during the winter months due to snow.

Day hikes that go farther then Roaring Springs are not recommended as a day hike. If you are going on one of the trails that are not marked as “easy” then please check in with the Ranger station before you leave on your hike.  And remember to keep your eyes open for a sighting of Condors!

condor

There are a lot of free activities for kids in Southern Utah. The St. George area is a year-round recreational haven for singles, couples and especially for families. There are so many free activities for kids they will never be bored. There are parks for the kids, and adults alike, strategically placed all over town, Dinosaur tracks, museums, ATV riding, bike trails, petroglyphs, tons of water activities and so much more.

Thunder Junction All Abilities Parkthunder-junction

Thunder Junction, an all abilities park, has recently opened in St. George, UT. This is a special one of a kind park where no one is left out. Everything is accessible to everyone regardless if you are in a wheelchair, use crutches or not. The park has a dinosaur there with some really great features like an “erupting” volcano, splash pad and a 1/4 -scale train that has a 2,700-foot track.  This remarkable play space offers accessible and sensory-rich play space that will enchant and delight children and adults with or without disabilities.

Pioneer Park

Pioneer park is one of the most fabulous and free places to visit in the St. George, UT area. It is not your typical park because there is no grass or playgrounds. You have an entire 52-acre park that is a natural playground just waiting for you to explore. If your kids love to climb on rocks, then this is the place to come to. You can stay close to the parking area and still be able to climb several rocks or you can take the trail and find the historical pioneer cabin, Boy Scout Cave or connect off on another trail system to explore the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The views from the top of Dixie rock are out of this world!

Adjacent to Pioneer Park is the Red Hills Desert Garden. The primary focus of the garden is to teach and promote water conservation and landscaping principles but it is really so much more. There are waterways where you can hop on rocks to get over the water or take a bridge, watch the fish swim on by red-hills-13or you can head over to the view area. With the viewing area, the public can view the Virgin River’s native fish in the fish’s habitat. The Plexiglas panel is a great way to see how fish live in the lakes and streams in the area.

A fun surprise is the faux rock replica of a slot canyon. The canyon walls tower over you and kids love the feeling they are on a mountainous hike complete with overhanging archways. After checking out the “slot canyon” don’t forget the bonus trail over to the boulders where the kids can enjoy lots of rock to climb on and caves to explore.

Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks

About 15 miles outside of St. George is the Warner Valley Dinosaur Tracks. This area is popular with adults and kids alike because it’s easy to get to as well as having the ability to see over 400 dinosaur tracks in one concentrated area. With many of the dinosaur tracks, you can see the toe pads and claw marks. You can see dinosaur footprints left behind by dinosaurs from the eubrontes and the grallator groups from the early Jurassic period. It is always fun to compare your foot size to a massive animal that roamed the earth many, many years ago.

Little Black Mountain Petroglyph Site

This popular destination is just a few miles south of St. George on the Arizona strip alittleblack-5-lnd well worth the drive out. The Little Black Mountain Petroglyph site dates back over 6,000 years with over 500 individual rock-art designs, petroglyphs and elements on the cliffs and boulders. Along the 1.2-mile groomed trail you will notice the petroglyphs are mostly on the south side of the rocks and boulders.  Kids really love this outdoor activity. While you are there don’t miss going over to Glitter Mountain too.

In the same area as Little Black Mountain Petroglyph site you will also find Sparkle or Glitter Mountain.

Glitter Mountain is an old gypsum mine just one mile over the Utah state line into Arizona. It is a huge glittery mountain of fun! The gypsum looks like glittering crystals you can take home with you.  Don’t forget to bring something to chip away gypsum fragments from the pit. If you don’t want to chip off any rock, then you can just pick up a piece of the glittery rock from the thousands that are scattered on the ground. Bring a bucket to put the gypsum in so you can take a souvenir back to family and friends.

St. George City Town Square Park

Town Square Park is located in downtown St. George City, inside the historic district on Main Street. This park is fabulous for children and adults alike. There are several dramatic water features, a great splash pad fountainst-george-town-square with jets that spray high into the air to cool off in the summer months. Adults and kids really like the lazy river running throughout the park. They can wade in the water of the river to cool off their feet or play in the splashing waterfall. There is a lot of grassy area as well as pavilions with tables and chairs for relaxing. One of the newer additions to Town Square Park is the Carousel. It is a classic 36-foot carousel that features over 1000 lights, two sleighs and 30 beautify hand-painted horses. Children and adults alike can’t resist an old-fashioned carousel!

The St. George City Children’s Museum is also located within the park. This is a great place to take kids of all ages. The museum has ten exhibit rooms so everyone can have a blast.  In these areas is where everyone is encouraged to touch, feel, play and explore with everything. You can do everything from milk a cow to be a fireman for the day. There are two floors to the museum where there is everything from a science area to music and bubble rooms. You can spend an hour or a full day at this fantastic children’s museum.

Southern Utah has so much to offer no one can be bored, unless they choose to. When you are visiting Southern Utah, you will find there is something for everyone. The best part is that not all activities have to break the bank! After your ATV tour with ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours there is still time in the day to relax and take in some free activities.