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Six great local parks & museums for children in Southern Utah

 

 

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.

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Camping in Zion National Park

Exploring Zion National Park is something every out-door enthusiast should put on their bucket list, but we think if you really want to have the full experience you should go camping at one of the many locations the park and surrounding areas offer. Whether you are an avid mountaineer, RV traveler, or strictly into Glamping, Zion has a spot for you. Here is a list of our favorite spots when we are exploring the park.

In The Park:

Did you become an eagle scout at age 13? Maybe you backpacked through Europe in college spending more than one night underneath the stars. If you are experienced and enjoy “roughing it” you will love camping in Zion. The park has three official camp sites inside the park, South Campground, Watchman Campground, and The Lava Point. There are several campgrounds only a short drive from the park if these sites don’t work for your family.Zion National Park Camping

  • South Campground:
    South Campground is located ½ mile from the South entrance of the park. Campsites cost about $20 and range upwards if it is a large group site.  There are over 100 campsites (including a few wheelchair accessible) but they are only available on a first -come first- serve basis. Campsites fill up during the early hours of the day and it has been noted that campers will start coming to claim spots as early as 5:30AM. There are no RV hookups available at this location, so this spot is primarily for tent camping.
  • Watchman Campground:
    Watchman Campground is located only a short ¼ mile from the South entrance of the park. A great feature of this campground is you are able to reserve a spot in advance online. This site is primarily occupied by reservations from March to November, but with it’s 176 campsites it has been known to accommodate a few last minute travelers.  This ground does provide RV hookups but there is limited access so be sure to book early. Campsites here range from $20-$130 depending on how many tent spots you need and if you need electric hookups.
  • Lava Point Campground:
    The Lava Point Campground is about an hour and twenty minutes from the South entrance of the park and only provides six primitive campsites. These grounds are easier for tent camping but people have been known to take their RV as well. Lava point provides pit toilets but no running water. This is a first-come, first-serve, basis campground but provides a truly spectacular experience of camping in Zion. There is no fee for this campground and it is well secluded from any other campground providing a quite evening in nature.

Outside the Park:

If you are making your first trip to Zion, it may be easier to find a campsite outside the park. There are also several grounds that include running water, showers, and convenient RV hookups just outside the park gates.

Camping RV

  • Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort:
    This campground is located just outside the South entrance gates in Springdale, Utah within walking distance to the official Zion National Park visitor center. It is just next door to the Quality Inn (which is under the same management) this means campers can enjoy laundry facilities, pools, and showers. There is specified areas of the campground just for tent campers and spacious areas to park your RV.
  • Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground:
    Zion River Resort is really popular for RV’s it is about a 20 minute drive from the Park but provides luxurious amenities such as paved parking, fire pits, well maintained landscape and even WIFI! If you don’t want to drive yourself to Zion the site offers shuttles to the park for a nominal fee. This is a great spot for families who aren’t experienced campers.
  • BLM Campgrounds:
    The Bureau of land management also offers several campgrounds in the Southern Utah area. BLM land can range from manicured campgrounds to back country deserts, where the only noise you will hear is from the wildlife. Most sites on BLM land are free to stay at, or only charge a very small fee for the night. Click Here to see what areas they currently have available.

With any campground you stay at, please be responsible and make sure to clean up for the next person. Check campground rules to determine the best way to handle waste management, and be sure to check for fire restrictions before you camp.

We hope you enjoy your time camping and have an even better time exploring the park. While you are in the area be sure to come ride with us and we will show you some reasons why we believe this corner of the world is worth your time.

Have a favorite place to camp in the area? Drop us a message in the comments!