Posts

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

, ,

Zion National Park Climbing Routes

Zion National Park is an excellent place to expand your adventuring repertoire, and a location that many people place on their bucket list for its unique offerings. One particularly adventurous attraction, is the vast and extraordinary climbing routes scattered throughout and around the canyon. In an effort to provide you with an insider look, we asked professional climber and geology expert Fallon Rowe about climbing in Zion and what she recommends for the novice climber all the way to expert.

Beginning Climbers

Even if you have never been in a climbing harness, there is still a place for you in Zion National Park. While Zion is known for its many trad climbs and multi-pitch ascents there are many beautiful spots to try your hand at bouldering or regular sport climbing. If you have never climbed before we suggest taking a guided climbing tour, there are several businesses surrounding the canyon that provide all the expertise and gear that you need to get close and personal with the grand rock formations the canyon provides. Fallon recommends checking out Cerberus Gendarme, this climbing location provides several routes of all levels that will fit anyone’s sport climbing needs.

Zion National Park climbing Fallon Rowe

Fallon on Headache -PC: Fallon Rowe

Advanced Climbers

If you are an experienced climber and are looking for a longer climb Fallon recommends the three following routes:

The Headache This climb is a 5/10 trad climb with 3 pitches. This route is well protected with breath taking views. (pictured below)

Monkey Finger – This climb is a 5/12 big-wall trad climb that is for experienced climbers only. This 9-pitch route has a lot of variety in the climbing so if you only have one day out of your trip to get climbing in, this is an excellent route to try.

Moonlight Buttress – Considered by some to be one of the best trad climbing routes in the world, moonlight buttress is an experienced climbers dream. This is a 10-pitch route that will take all day to complete. Plan to bring lots of water and know that you may need to aid climb on areas of this route.

Zion National Park climbing Fallon Rowe 2

Fallon Gearing Up – PC: Fallon Rowe

Gear to bring

If you are trying out climbing for the first time we recommend going with a guided tour company who can help provide you with the climbing gear you need, but you will still want to pack good hiking shoes, sunscreen, water, a flashlight, and a jacket. The basic climbing gear such as, helmet, harness, shoes, chalk, belay device, and rope are essential to any climb. When going bouldering, it is important that you always wear a helmet and we highly recommend using bouldering crash pads to prevent injury. When climbing a more advanced route you will need to bring at least a double rack of cams and nuts, tape, and be sure to bring extra containers for water. Fallon also recommends bringing a GPS device, as some routes are off trail and the canyon can get difficult to navigate if you end up descending in the dark.

Zion National Park Climbing Fallon Rowe 3

Sqeeze and Play – PC: Fallon Rowe

When to go

Zion National Park can get hot in the summer, so if you plan to incorporate climbing into your trip we suggest going in the early spring (March & April) or fall (October & November). If you decide to go during these times it is essential that you watch the weather reports for rain. Zion provides the unique experience of climbing on sandstone, however, sandstone becomes very brittle and dangerous when wet so be sure to wait at least 2 days after every rain storm before climbing to allow the rock to dry out. If your trip happens to get rained out, there are several climbs on granite in the surrounding areas of the park.

Snacks to pack

When going on a climbing trip it is important to pack light snacks that you can carry with you. You don’t want to eat anything too heavy as it can make it difficult to continue climbing and make your experience less enjoyable. Fallon recommended bringing light packaged items like fruit snacks, granola bars, or trail mix as well as a few items to sustain you in case the climb takes longer than anticipated like protein bars and jerky.

Transportation

Zion National Park provides a shuttle bus throughout their season, so be sure to study the schedule before you plan a climb or hike. The shuttle system shuts down typically around 8 p.m. so be sure to plan plenty of time to get to your bus stop before the end of the night. During the off season for the park, you can drive your personal vehicle to any of the shuttle stops.

Be sure to let us know if you have any favorite climbs or advice for climbing in Zion National Park!

, , ,

The Must Do’s of Zion National Park

We here at ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours like to think of ourselves as avid outdoor adventurers, and being only a short 35-minute drive away from Zions National Park, we have spent our fair share of time there. If you are an outdoor adventurer making your way to Zion’s National Park this year we have a few “must do’s” we think you should add to your itinerary.

Hiking

One of the things that makes Zion’s so great is the many hiking trails located in and around the park. Whether you are an avid mountain climber, or someone who prefers more leisurely strolls in the mountains, Zion’s has a hike for you. An easier hike to check out would be the Canyon overlook, it is short and sweet, but provides truly spectacular views. A couple of our other favorites are the Narrows (ranges from moderate to difficult depending on how far you hike) and weeping rock (short trail but has a steeper incline), both of which provide unique water elements that you will for sure want to see! For more details and information on our favorite hikes, check out this blog article.

Camping

There isn’t much better than sleeping under the stars on a warm summer night. If you like camping out, you will love the astonishing locations the park offers. Most camp sites in and around the park are fairly inexpensive, but they are typically reserved about six months in advance. Check out this listing of some of the available camp sites here.

Horseback riding

Riding a horse through the great canyons of Zion’s National Park provides a type of tranquil nostalgia reminiscent of an old western movie. There is something about riding horseback through the park that we just can’t seem to put into words. It is a great activity for the whole family and is an excellent way to unplug from technology for a while.

Food

Let’s be honest, the best vacations are the vacations that are meticulously planned around food. When it comes time to eat we have a few places to recommend. If you like a casual more laid-back environment we suggest The Flying Monkey, they have a large selection of beer on tap, fantastic brick-oven fired pizzas and breads, and we highly recommend the hummus (seriously, this is one of those musts). If you are looking for something a little more upscale be sure to get a steak at the Anasazi grill. Be careful though, they cook everything on lava rock which might just spoil regular grill cooking for you. For more restaurant suggestions click here.

Van Tours

A Van tour is an excellent way to keep the adventure going after a morning hike. You get to relax in an air-conditioned 4×4 van while an experienced guide takes you to awe inspiring locations that many locals aren’t even aware are in their back yard. These tours are jam packed with Petroglyphs, geological wonders, historical sites, and even dinosaur tracks. These tours can take nine people per van so they are a perfect family friendly adventure. For more information on Van tours click here.

We wish you luck on your next Zion’s adventure and hope you enjoy our suggestions. If you know of a Zion’s must that we didn’t include, be sure to mention it in the comments!

, , ,

North Rim Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

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