We are no strangers to visiting Utah via road trip, we’ve done it quite a few times. Mostly before the kiddo, but a few times now driving the long trek with him. Visiting Utah has become an annual trip for our family. From visiting family in Salt Lake City, camping in Manti, and hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon, we’ve only spent time in St. George as a pass through town. St. George is located on the Arizona-Utah border, making it a short 2 hour drive from Las Vegas. It is known for its warmer temperatures (lower altitude), golf, retirement community and its amazing outdoor activities. It is also a great “base camp” for visiting Zion National Park, about an hour away or Bryce Canyon National Park, 2 hours away.
After a beautiful (and very early) Easter service, we diverted the kiddo’s attention from the impending Easter egg hunt by leaving an Easter basket with plenty of swag in his car seat, to keep him busy and pumped for the long car ride. We also went all out and purchased a portable DVD player (great purchase via Amazon by the way), which bought us an awesome 2-hour reprieve! With minimal pit stops at random rest stops and at Stateline, we managed to get to spring break HQ in about 6 hours.
Where We Stayed: Paradise Village at Zion
A new vacation home community located in Santa Clara, a few minutes outside of St. George. With a view of the red rocks and a 5 minute drive to Snow Canyon State Park, we rented a 5-bedroom home with all of the amenities of a hotel resort. With a short drive (less than 5 minutes) to a grocery store , we were set to make St. George home for five days.
About a 1 hour drive to Zion National Park, 2.5 hours drive to Bryce, we decided to forgo the National Park visits, since the entire world seemed to be on Spring Break at the same time (and we heard that the parks were crowded, and shuttle wait times were longer than usual). Instead, we decided to venture through a state park, conveniently located 7 miles from our home base.
Getting Out in Nature: Snow Canyon State Park
From the brochure: Snow Canyon State Park is a 7,400-acre scenic park tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment.
We were pleasantly surprised at what Snow Canyon had to offer. Great camps sites for our possible future camping plans, breathtaking scenery, and various hikes where the majority of them were family friendly. If you find yourself at Snow Canyon State Park, check out the Petrified Dunes and Butterly Trail hikes. Both moderate hikes, with plenty of scenery, scrambling over frozen sand dunes and even adventuring inside a lava tube (not recommended for toddlers, so leave them with dad up top).
Before leaving the park, we checked out the Sand Dunes trail…which led to a giant sandbox of red sand. The kiddo didn’t know what to do with himself! He couldn’t believe the sand was red, instead of our beach sand at home. This little pit stop before home gave us about 30 minutes to sit around while the little guy played. A great place to take a break and really enjoy the beauty of Snow Canyon.
For more information about Snow Canyon State Park, click here.
When it Rains: St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm
Weather played a big part in our decision to visit places, during our trip. Instead of the pleasant mid-70s temperatures we were hoping for, we experienced colder temps (mid 40s to high 60s), gloom, high winds and a full day of rain! So, what do you do when you can’t hit the hiking trails or the pool? You find indoor places of interest.
In all of our trip planning, we read that the Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm was a place to visit. With the cold morning weather, we decided to check it out.
From their website: The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm houses exceptionally well-preserved dinosaur tracks, fossil fish and plants, rare dinosaur remains, invertebrates traces and important sedimentary structures. This site is described by many paleontologists as “one of the ten best dinosaur track sites in the world” and is one of the most important discoveries in Early Jurassic paleontological history.
Resembling a warehouse and as a self-guided tour, it was an interesting site visit. Although, it was not as interactive or “hands on” as our toddler liked, there was an outdoor area where kids could search for dinosaur bones and play in the sand. If it were 10 degrees warmer, the outdoor discovery area would have been great for kids. Plan to spend about an hour for a thorough visit. Visit their website here.
When it’s Still Raining: Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum
A taxidermy museum? Filled with over 300 species donated by the Rosenbruch family and worth over 4 million dollars, this place spiked our curiosity. How could we pass this up? Interesting and mind boggling that there is a collection of once alive animals under a warehouse roof, set-up by region and extensively catalogued. Take an audio tour through this place and you will be left amazed. A small kids room can be found in the middle of the museum, but with all the things to see in this place, kids won’t even notice the play room. Definitely a must-visit, but not for the faint at heart animal lover. For more information, visit their website here.
St. George is a great place to visit! With so many things to see, family friendly places to eat and check out, plenty of visual arts and performing arts, beautiful state parks, its close proximity to Zion and Bryce National Parks, or if you just want to relax poolside – there is something for everyone. I hope you get to enjoy it sometime soon.
Want to visit St. George? Check out these sites: