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  • 30 Epic Family Friendly Hikes In Southern Utah

    Southern Utah is an outdoor lover’s paradise with adventures for everyone. Whether you’re wanting to slide into a tight slot canyon, find a waterfall amidst a desert oasis, scale sandstone cliffs or explore Dr. Seuss-like rock formations this part of the state has it all. While there’s no shortage of “epic” when it comes to hikes in Southern Utah, finding the right ones that you can take your kiddos on can be a little more of a challenge. Here is a list of our favorite adventure driven hikes around Southern Utah that the kiddos will love and we feel pretty confident that parents will too. I’ve explored the trails of Southern Utah with my kids for years, so I’ve got some serious firsthand experience about which hikes in Southern Utah are kid-friendly. Trust me, I’ve put in the mileage here…literally! The Best Hikes in Southern Utah for Kids Here is a list of our favorite adventure driven hikes around Southern Utah that the kiddos will love and we feel pretty confident that parents will too. ;-) ZION NATIONAL PARK Riverside Walk The Narrows Lower Pine Creek Falls Canyon Overlook Emerald Pool Clear Creek KOLOB CANYONS/TERRACE Lambs Knoll Taylor Creek Timber Creek Overlook Northgate Peaks KANAB AREA Kanab Sand Caves Squaw Trail Wire Pass Toadstools The Nautilus SNOW CANYON Jenny’s Canyon Scout Cave Johnson’s Canyon Petrified Dunes KANARRAVILLE Kanarra Falls Spring Creek Canyon ORDERVILLE Belly of the Dragon Red Hollow RED CLIFFS RESERVE Red Reef Trail Babylon Arch OTHER AREAS IN SOUTHERN UTAH Yant Flat (Dixie National Forest) Water Canyon (Canaan Mountain/Hildale) Cascade Falls (Duck Creek) Hidden Haven (Brian Head) Ramparts Trail (Cedar Breaks) 1. RIVERSIDE WALK - Main Canyon, Zion National Park TRAIL STATS Beginner 2.5 miles round trip Minimal elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This is a perfect hike as an intro to hiking in Zion with kids. To get there, take the shuttle all the way through the park (35 mins) and get a wonderful scenic view of the canyon. When you start hiking, you can choose the paved trail or the sand trail that runs parallel to it and is usually less crowded. The kiddos will love that they can play in the river and explore and climb around the trail. The end of this hike is the start of The Narrows. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR RIVERSIDE WALK 2. THE NARROWS - Main Canyon, Zion National Park TRAIL STATS Advanced 9 miles total, but you can turn around whenever you want 300 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS If you are visiting Zion National Park in the summer with kids who love to hike and who love water then The Narrows is a hike that should be at the very top of your list. Such a great way to beat the intense summer heat, The Narrows is an amazing slot canyon hike that will take your breath away around every turn. The full hike is 9 miles round trip but you can just hike until everyone is ready to turn around. Note: The Narrows hike is closed when the river is flowing too fast. Always check conditions on the Zion NPS site, and don’t hike The Narrows during or after heavy rain because of the possibility of flash floods. CLICK HERE FOR OUR TOP 10 TIPS FOR HIKING THE NARROWS WITH KIDS 3. LOWER PINE CREEK FALLS - Main Canyon, Zion National Park TRAIL STATS Intermediate 0.7 miles round trip Minimal elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Lower Pine Creek Falls is a great trail to get away from the crowds in Zion and also an excellent way to cool off in the heat of the summer. It’s less than a mile round trip hike to get to the picturesque pond and 15-foot waterfall, but it is a true adventure with some stream hopping, boulder climbing and sketchy ledges. Warning, once you get to the waterfall you might never want to leave! If you go in the summer bring swimsuits for the kids. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO LOWER PINE CREEK FALLS 4. CANYON OVERLOOK - East Side, Zion National Park TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate 0.9 miles round trip 157 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This family-friendly trail on the east side of Zion features big horn sheep sightings, caves (kinda) and one of the most breathtaking views in the park. It almost feels like cheating to get views like this with such an easy hike. At about a mile round trip, Canyon Overlook is great for families, and there is only some slight elevation gain. It is important to keep a close eye on the kiddos though, since this trail has lots of steep drop offs especially at the overlook. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO CANYON OVERLOOK 5. EMERALD POOLS - Main Canyon, Zion National Park TRAIL STATS Intermediate Lower Pool: 1 mile round trip/Middle Pool: 1.25 miles round trip/Upper Pool: 2.5 miles round trip 620 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS One of the most popular hikes in the park, this trail is located right across from the Zion Lodge. The hike takes you to three gorgeous pools, and the waterfalls and stream along the way make this hike super fun for kids. You can also take the  Kayenta Trail on your way back to get some different views. Local tip: Swimming is not allowed in the pools, so there’s no need to bring your swimsuits. 6. CLEAR CREEK - East Side, Zion National Park TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate No set distance, you can hike as little or as much as you want Elevation gain varies TRAIL DETAILS Clear Creek does not have an actual starting point or end point, so you can choose your own adventure. As you drive along Route 9 on the upper east side of Zion, you will see the dry creek bed down below. Simply pick a spot to pull off and go exploring! I recommend pulling over at the Many Pools trailhead. The kids will totally love all the areas to run and play here. Local tip: Please respect the landscape and do NOT let your kids draw on the canyon walls! CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO CANYON OVERLOOK 7. LAMBS KNOLL - Kolob Terrace TRAIL STATS Beginner 0.8 miles round trip Minimal elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Lambs Knoll is an area along Kolob Terrace Road that is popular for rock climbing and canyoneering, but you can keep it easy to explore this super fun area with kids. The hike is short and leads you to a small and tight slot canyon that is a huge hit with the kiddos. There are picnic tables here, so you can make it into a fun half day adventure by bringing lunch or dinner. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR LAMBS KNOLL 8. TAYLOR CREEK - Kolob Canyons TRAIL STATS Intermediate 5.5 miles round trip 620 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS The kiddos will love that you are walking along a small stream for the majority of this hike, which is especially nice in the summer. The trail is really lovely, and the cool double arch alcove at the end is a great spot to stop for lunch and snacks before turning back. There are also two historic cabins along the trail that are interesting to look around and peak in. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR TAYLOR CREEK 9. TIMBER CREEK OVERLOOK - Kolob Canyons TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate 1 mile round trip 255 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Timber Creek Overlook is a sandy and flat trail with a few short rocky hills. The hike is short and keeps the kids engaged along the way. It’s really the perfect quick hike with kids to experience the beautiful sandstone cliffs of Kolob Canyon…the views on this hike are stunning! 10. NORTHGATE PEAKS -  Kolob Terrace TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate 4.5 miles round trip 100 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This hike goes along a flat ponderosa forest and through wildflower meadows for 2 miles. Although this can get a little boring for the kiddos, the trail eventually rewards you with beautiful and unique views of Zion peaks and backcountry canyons. This is the area of Zion that most people don't see, and it's really worth it to get off the beaten path. Local tip: August is an especially gorgeous time to hike this trail on Kolob Terrace, since that’s when the many wildflowers will be in full bloom along the trail. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR NORTHGATE PEAKS 11. MOQUI CAVERNS/KANAB SAND CAVES - Kanab, UT TRAIL STATS Intermediate 0.25 miles round trip Elevation gain is just the scrambling up the wall to the caves TRAIL DETAILS The Kanab Sand Caves are located 10 minutes outside of Kanab, and it is such a fun hike with kids to scramble up to these cool caves. These man-made caves were used to harvest sand for glass production in the 1970s. Crazy, right? The quarter mile round trip hike to the caves is easy and family friendly. You will have to scale up a sand stone wall for a very short distance, which can be a bit slippery and difficult for both kids and adults, so make sure you have good traction on your shoes. Shoes with good traction are a must! There are steep drop off ledges at the caves so keep a close eye on your kiddos. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO THE SAND CAVES 12. SQUAW TRAIL - Kanab, UT TRAIL STATS Intermediate 3 miles round trip 600 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This short but steep trail is located right in the town of Kanab and is perfect for a morning or evening hike with the kiddos. You might have to encourage them on the steep uphill section, but it’s totally worth it to experience gorgeous views of Kanab from above. CHECK OUT THIS BLOG POST FOR MANY MORE REASONS TO VISIT KANAB 13. WIRE PASS - Outside Kanab TRAIL STATS Intermediate 3.7 miles round trip 180 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Wire Pass Trail is an awesome escape to a slot canyon about an hour east of Kanab off a bumpy dirt road. It’s a great hike that feels like an adventure yet is totally doable for families. Everyone will enjoy exploring in the deep narrows and taking in the quiet solitude and beauty of the wavy red rock walls. You can also make the hike a little bit longer and explore the beautiful Buckskin Gulch slot canyon, too. Note: Permits ($6/person) are required for day use in this area. You should purchase your Wire Pass permits on recreation.gov before you arrive because cell service is spotty here. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR WIRE PASS TRAIL 14. TOADSTOOLS - Outside Kanab TRAIL STATS Beginner 1.8 miles round trip 141 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This is truly one of the most fun hikes in Southern Utah for kids! The easy trail will take you to an area filled with rock formations and hoodoos that seriously look just like toadstools. Running from toadstool to toadstool and playing hide and go seek kept my kiddos entertained for hours. In fact, my kiddos loved this hike so much that we came back to the Toadstools again just a few weeks after our first visit. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR THE TOADSTOOLS 15. THE NAUTILUS - Outside Kanab TRAIL STATS Beginner 0.9 miles Minimal elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Another total hit with the kiddos is The Nautilus, just outside Kanab near Page, AZ. This short hike brings you to a unique swirly white rock formation. The formation is named "The Nautilus" because when you hike down into the formation, it spirals around, giving you the feeling you are exploring a large mollusk seashell. You can even sit on your bum and slide down, which my kiddos thought was the coolest thing ever! Adults will love The Nautilus, too, because it’s absolutely stunning. I adored the light inside the mollusk-like formation, with ripples of yellow stripes running through the white rock. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR THE NAUTILUS 16. JENNY’S CANYON - Snow Canyon State Park TRAIL STATS Beginner 0.5 miles round trip Minimal elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Jenny’s Canyon is a short, sandy walk to a quaint yet magnificent slot canyon. It’s honestly lovely to run your fingertips along the soft red walls of the canyon, and it offers a cool refuge from the hot desert summers. This trail is less than a half mile round trip walk and is lightly trafficked throughout the day,, so it’s a good place to get away from the crowds on some of the more well-known hikes in Southern Utah. CHECK OUT THIS BLOG POST FOR MORE ABOUT VISITING SNOW CANYON STATE PARK 17. SCOUT CAVE - Snow Canyon State Park TRAIL STATS Intermediate 3.5 miles round trip 500 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This mostly flat trail takes you through a lava flow and along a really pretty creek bed with lots of trees and desert vegetation. Near the end of the hike, you will climb a set of stairs and then a rocky path leads you up and into the cave.The views of the St George Valley from up here are beautiful and totally worth the short climb (although it might not be the best for young children). It’s not a super big cave but seriously, who doesn’t love a good cave? CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR SCOUT CAVE 18. JOHNSON’S CANYON - Snow Canyon State Park TRAIL STATS Beginner 1.7 miles round trip 154 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Johnson’s Canyon starts from the same trailhead as Scout Cave, and it’s a really nice hike to combine the two. The trail starts through the same lava flow and creek bed as Scout Cave, and then you continue straight instead of branching off. You’ll hike through the canyon and then get an awesome view of the 200 foot Johnson’s Arch. Note: Johnson’s Canyon Trail is closed seasonally from March 15-September 14 for turtle conservation. 19. PETRIFIED DUNES - Snow Canyon State Park TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate 1.2 miles round trip 216 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This short trail is very family-friendly and packed with incredible views. The petrified sand dunes are essentially massive hills of Navajo sandstone that surround you. You can wander wherever you want, and kiddos especially love the freedom to run around here. Although there are some uneven surfaces and steep hills,  the dunes are pretty easy to navigate, so this hike is a fantastic family outing in Southern Utah. 20. KANARRA FALLS - Kanarraville, UT TRAIL STATS Advanced 4.4 miles round trip 692 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS A stunning slot canyon where you climb a ladder in the midst of a magical waterfall. Yes, please! This trail is 4.4 miles round trip and about as photogenic as they come with vibrant green trees and stunning slot canyons that will leave you speechless. There is a decent amount of rock scrambling and the beginning of the trail is a bit boring but keep going, it's worth it! If you can make it to the first slot canyon (about 1.5 miles in) with the kiddos I call that a win! Note: A permit ($15/person) is required to hike to Kanarra Falls. You can purchase permits at the trailhead kiosk, but permits are limited to 180 each day, so it’s better to buy online here if you want to guarantee that you get them. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO KANARRA FALLS 21. SPRING CREEK CANYON - Kanarraville, UT TRAIL STATS Intermediate/Advanced 5.3 miles round trip 761 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Spring Creek is an excellent alternative to Kanarra Falls if you want to avoid the crowds (and permits). The first mile of the trail is a bit boring, but once you reach the towering sandstone cliffs, it will take your breath away!! You’ll head deep into the canyon for an amazing Southern Utah red rock experience. The slot canyon never narrows too much, so it’s totally doable with kids, although the little ones might have more of a challenge. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR SPRING CREEK CANYON 22. Belly Of The Dragon - Orderville, UT TRAIL STATS Beginner 0.5 miles round trip Minimal elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS A  short hike through a manmade tunnel is the highlight of this unique, family-friendly trail located just 20 miles east of Zion National Park. The cave-like tunnel/Belly of the Dragon was originally created as a water culvert under HWY89 but over time drainage from upper canyon water flow has carved the sandstone walls and created a beautiful rippling tunnel prime for exploring. This is such a great adventure with kids so bring the whole family and have some fun. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO BELLY OF THE DRAGON 23. RED HOLLOW - Orderville, UT TRAIL STATS Beginner 1 mile round trip 157 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Red Hollow Canyon is such a good easy slot canyon for beginners and kids. From the trailhead, you’ll head through a sandy wash while you’re surrounded by a mix of white and red sandstone which is just gorgeous. Soon the canyon will narrow into the slot canyon, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the breathtaking red walls. 24. RED REEF TRAIL - Red Cliffs Desert Reserve TRAIL STATS Beginner 3 miles round trip 219 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This trail is a fan favorite. It is a short 3-mile round trip hike with very little elevation gain, lots of cool spots for playing and exploring along the trail and the rock climbing rope area near the end makes the hike feel truly adventurous. If you choose to climb the rocks to the upper section with a small child on your back we recommend using a soft carrier. This will keep your center of gravity more even. There is a seasonal waterfall that runs in the spring but this hike is great any time of year. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO RED REEF TRAIL 25. BABYLON ARCH - Red Cliffs Desert Reserve TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate 2.9 miles round trip 331 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Epic views, an epic sandhill, and an epic arch make this trail such a fun adventure with kids. At 2.9 miles round trip, The only issue is the trail isn't as well marked as it could be, and the arch can be a little hard to find. Take a gps with you to make sure you stay on the trail if this is your first time. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO BABYLON ARCH 26. YANT FLATS - Dixie National Forest TRAIL STATS Intermediate 3.4 miles round trip 337 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS The other wordly Yant Flats begins with a short 1.5-mile hike through the woods before reaching open terrain of swirling smooth rock formations that spill out for miles. The landscape can be steep at times, and there are cliffs to be aware of, but the sticky rock will allow kids to adventure across much of the area with a little hand holding from mom & dad. Beware that the road getting out to Yant Flat is an 8-mile bumpy dirt road. It is a pretty intense drive if you are not used to dirt roads. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO YANT FLAT 27. WATER CANYON - Cannan Mountain Wilderness TRAIL STATS Advanced 4.25 miles round trip 500 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This hidden gem of a hike located just outside of Hildale, UT has a shallow year-round creek and a rocky waterfall oasis at the end. You can venture on past the waterfall, but this isn’t advised with young kids. At 3.5 miles round trip the trail can be a little more advanced due to the moderate elevation gain and tricky rock scrambling. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS TO WATER CANYON 28. CASCADE FALLS - Duck Creek Village TRAIL STATS Beginner/Intermediate 1.2 miles round trip 150 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This short hike still delivers stunning views overlooking Zion National Park and a waterfall! Cascade Falls is a rare type of waterfall that starts in Navajo Lake, drains through a lava tube, flows straight out of a cave on the side of a mountain, and cascades down steep cliffs into the Virgin River. The gravel path is lined with stairs and benches where you can rest with the kiddos during the steeper parts. This is a family-friendly hike, but keep your little ones close. The gravel tends to be slippery, and there are some steep drop-offs to watch out for. CLICK HERE FOR FULL HIKING DETAILS FOR CASCADE FALLS 29. HIDDEN HAVEN - Brian Head, UT TRAIL STATS Intermediate/Advanced 1.2 miles round trip 275 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS Hidden Haven is one of the best waterfall hikes in southern Utah, and it’s fairly family friendly. But flooding has washed out parts of the trail so now it can be a little sketchier in places. The trail follows a creek for a while along a mostly shady trail. Soon you’ll start hiking over rocks with a bit of minor scrambling. Keep an eye on your kids here and be ready to lend a hand in the tricky sections. Finally,  you’ll come to the end where you’ll esperience the unique sight of water flowing down the blocky, angular rocks of Hidden Haven. Local tip: Do this hike in the spring if you want to see the waterfall flowing. 30. RAMPARTS TRAIL - Cedar Breaks National Monument TRAIL STATS Intermediate/Advanced 4 miles round trip 393 feet elevation gain TRAIL DETAILS This trail heads along the South Rim of Cedar Breaks National Monument, also known as the“Circle of the Painted Cliffs.” You’ll hit the Spectra Viewpoint at about 1 mile in, and the Ramparts Viewpoint after 2 miles. Both overlooks offer amazing views of the naturally-formed rock coliseum and its colorful arches and hoodoos. Keep in mind that the trail heads down to the viewpoints, so you might have to encourage the kiddos a little more on the way back up. Tips for Hikes in Southern Utah with Kids Plan for trails to take longer with the kiddos than estimates you might find online. Going slow, especially on the more advanced hikes, is usually the way to go. Bring lots of snacks and water! These are essential not only for keeping everyone fueled and hydrated, but yummy snacks also make great motivation when the kiddos are complaining. :) Packing a sack lunch is also a good idea on the longer hikes, and many of these trails have lovely spots for a lunch break. Don’t forget sun protection –sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, etc. The desert sun is no joke, and you definitely don’t want to ruin your family trip to Southern Utah because the kiddos get sunburned. Always keep an eye on the weather! If it’s a hot day, you’ll want to seek the shady trails, but if rain is in the forecast, you should not go into the canyons. You can also avoid the heat by getting an early start in the morning. We hope you have such a great time hiking your way though Zion and Southern Utah. Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • All the Best Things to Do in Springdale, Utah – Gateway To Zion National Park

    Most national parks have a little town with hotels, places to eat, and shopping and for Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah is just that place. You can’t visit Zion National Park without stopping in Springdale! Visitors to Zion will find plenty of awesome things to do in Springdale, Utah, as well as fantastic places to stay, lots of shopping, and great places to eat . Though the population of Springdale is super small (only around 600 people actually live here), the town plays a big role as the gateway to Zion National Park. Where is Springdale Located? Springdale, Utah sits right at the entrance to Zion National Park, and you go straight through the town to get to the west entrance of Zion.  You can even walk from Springdale right into Zion. Getting Around Springdale While it’s easy to walk around most of Springdale, there’s also a convenient free shuttle that runs through town and connects with the Zion National Park shuttle. The shuttle is such a wonderful way to get around and explore all the things to do in Springdale, Utah. The Springdale shuttle runs daily from March through November, and you can find detailed info about Springdale shuttle hours and stops here. Where to Stay in Springdale Springdale is an amazing home base for visiting Zion National Park, and you’ll find lots of lodging options here. Here are my top three favorite spots to stay in Springdale: CABLE MOUNTAIN LODGE If you want to stay as close as possible to Zion, you literally can’t get closer than Cable Mountain Lodge! The park entrance is just a 3 min walk from the lodge, so you can stroll right past any traffic backups to get into the park and walk right in the pedestrian entrance. Plus, you won’t have to worry about parking! Beyond the amazing location, Cable Mountain Lodge has some awesome amenities as well. The pool is awesome on a hot day in the desert, and you can see the stunning red rock walls of Zion in the distance while you’re splashing around. And let me tell you, The Spa at Cable Mountain Lodge is absolutely worth the indulgence, especially after a few days of hiking and exploring in Zion. FLANIGAN'S INN Only about half a mile from the entrance to Zion, Flanigan’s Inn is a fantastic place to stay in Springdale. From terrace rooms to suites to private villas, you can find the perfect accommodation option at Flanigan’s to fit your family or group when visiting Zion. The family-owned inn has an outdoor hot tub and pool to relax in and enjoy the views, and there’s also a nature trail on the property and a really cool hilltop labyrinth to explore. Deep Canyon Spa offers a variety of rejuvenating treatments, too. CLIFFROSE LODGE Another wonderful spot just an easy walk down the road from Zion is Cliffrose Lodge. The rooms and villas are lovely, and the grounds are absolutely gorgeous with a well-tended botanical garden right on the property. Five Petals Spa offers a special escape for a massage or a facial, but the real gem at Cliffrose Lodge is the riverside pool and hot tub. Sitting right on the edge of the Virgin River, you’ll get seriously jaw-dropping views while you soak. And here are my honorable mentions for a couple other great places to stay in Springdale: Desert Pearl Inn – Great location along the Virgin River and an easy walk to Springdale attractions and the Zion park entrance. Springhill Suites - Modern rooms and amenities, just a little bit farther from the park entrance (about 1.5 miles) but easy to hop on the shuttle. Where to Eat in Springdale For such a small town, Springdale has a surprising amount of amazing places to eat! These are my top go-to restaurants when I’m exploring all the things to do in Springdale, Utah. WHIPTAIL GRILL Everything is amazing here! Whiptail Grill serves fun twists on traditional Mexican food, like goat cheese chile rellenos (my absolute fave!) and spaghetti squash enchiladas. Of course, you can also get tasty tacos and burritos, and they have excellent burgers on the menu, too. ZION PIZZA & NOODLE CO If you’re in the mood for pizza, you definitely won’t be disappointed here. The signature pizzas are seriously so good, and the salads are also great. Quench your thirst in the beer garden, which features a long list of drafts from local Utah breweries and other favorites from farther away. OSCAR’S CAFE You can’t beat the breakfast burritos at Oscar’s Cafe…both the pork verde and black bean green chili are an excellent way to start a big day of hiking in Zion. They also have pancakes and french toast if you have a sweet tooth. The lunch and dinner menu is extensive, but I swear by the shrimp tacos! MEME’S CAFE Famous for its crepes, which include both savory and sweet options, MeMe’s Cafe is a wonderful spot for lunch in Springdale. The sandwiches are truly something special, especially if you love pork…choose from a Hawaiian, Cubano, BBQ pork, and more! You also can’t go wrong with all these other yummy choices: Hangry Goat – This brand new spot features great barbecue sandwiches along with awesome views of The Watchman formation while you eat. Cafe Soleil – Convenient cafe to grab a snack before heading into Zion National Park. Deep Creek – Organic, locally sourced breakfast and lunch options including quinoa bowls, smoothie bowls, and sandwiches. Switchback Grille – Splurge on a fancy dinner at this contemporary American steakhouse with incredible seafood, too. King’s Landing – Treat yourself to an incredible seasonal meal with amazing specialty cocktails at this upscale bistro. Bit & Spur – Enjoy an eclectic menu ranging from sweet potato tamales to roasted poblano mac & cheese to chicken mole at this modern saloon, or get a casual snack at the backyard taco shack. TOP COFFEE SPOTS Deep Creek – My personal fave to get my caffeine fix is this adorable cafe with delicious specialty lattes and more. Canyon Coffee – Grab a coffee or a chai latte here to get energized for your day in Zion. Perks at Cable Mountain – Located right outside the park entrance, you can park at the Zion Visitor Center early in the morning and then walk over and get a coffee. LOCAL TIP: Springdale also has two grocery stores, Sol Foods Supermarket and Happy Campers Market. While they are convenient when you are heading into or out of Zion, that convenience comes with a price…literally. They are both super expensive! I recommend heading to the nearby town of Hurricane and hitting up Walmart, Lins, or Davis in for groceries if you want to save some money. Things to Do in Springdale, Utah While the big attraction here is obviously Zion National Park, you shouldn’t miss these fun things to do in Springdale, Utah, too. Rent E-Bikes from Zion Outfitters If you haven’t tried e-biking, I highly recommend it, and Springdale is the perfect place to give it a go. Head to Zion Outfitters, a gear store right at the entrance to Zion, and rent an e-bike for the day. Once you get your bike, start pedaling on the Pa’Rus Trail which runs from the Visitor Center along the Virgin River to Canyon Junction. You can continue biking through the canyon, and it takes about 30 minutes to get from the Visitor Center to the end of the canyon at the Temple of Sinawava. Local tip: Zion Outfitters offers 30 e-bike reservations per day (except on holiday weekends) with additional e-bikes available on a first-come/first-serve basis. Make a reservation online if you want to guarantee that you get a bike! Check out my blog post with lots more info about e-biking in Zion here! Play Around at Springdale Town Park Since most people are distracted by Zion, the Springdale Town Park is a local secret that I love! There’s so much to do here, with pickleball courts, volleyball courts, tennis courts, softball fields, frisbee golf, and a playground. Plus, you can chill out in the gazebo or have lunch at the picnic tables (there’s a grill, too). And, of course, the views from here are amazing. Hang Out at George Barker River Park As you might expect from its name, George Barker River Park sits on the Virgin River in Springdale. One side of the park features picnic tables, grills, and plenty of grass to set up a picnic blanket. On the other side of the river is Marj Bonner Dog Park, where you can let your furry friends run and play off leash. And everyone will enjoy splashing in the river here, especially when it’s hot! Hike with a View While the most well-known trails are obviously in Zion, you’ll find some nice easy trails right in Springdale, too. One of my favorites is a great little hike that starts at George Barker Park and takes you up to a beautiful vantage point of Springdale and the surrounding cliffs. It’s only about a mile round trip, and the views are incredible! Stop into the Springdale Library A great rainy day destination or an escape from the heat, the Springdale Library offers something to keep the whole family entertained for a while. The staff is friendly and welcoming, and this truly might be the most beautiful library location you’ll ever see, with the sandstone walls of Zion rising just behind it. Stroll the Shops in Springdale It’s totally worth spending an afternoon walking around Springdale and checking out the shops. Here are a few to make sure to pop into: Bumbleberry Gift Shop – This cute gift shop is also a bakery, so you can get both souvenirs and sweet treats here. Hoodoos General Store – We love the grassy area outfront of Hoodoos. Check out the gift shop, then get an ice cream and sit on the lawn for a bit. The store also has a deli inside if you get hungry. Zion Prospector– Gaze at all the beautiful rocks, gems, and fossils from both Utah and around the world. You can definitely find a unique souvenir here! Zion Rock & Gem – From breathtaking large crystals to smaller but equally gorgeous gems, you could spend all day here exploring the selection of amazing rocks. The prices for souvenirs are also the best in town. Peek at the Art Galleries You might not expect it, but there are lots of great art galleries in Springdale! Check these out to appreciate the local talent: DeZion Gallery – This wonderful gallery showcases local Southwestern artists and is on a mission to make art accessible to as many people as possible. David J West Gallery – Photographer David J. West displays stunning photos of Zion and the Southwest in his gallery. Worthington Gallery – This gallery is housed in a historic pioneer home and features the work of over 40 local artists in a variety of mediums, including kinetic wind sculptures. Sorella Gallery – A small gallery with beautiful photographs, gorgeous art glass, and lots of creative pieces. Take some time  to explore this charming town that welcomes travelers to Zion National Park. As you can see, Springdale is far more than just a parking lot for the park. Nestled in the shadow of the iconic red, white, and pink striped cliffs, Springdale feels like an extension of the park itself. With plenty of entertainment, shopping, restaurants and lodging options, you will find that Springdale is a great place to spend some time on your visit to Zion National Park. I hope this blog post helps you make the most of that stop. Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Top 7 Zion River Hikes - Cool Off on These Hikes with Water

    When the weather starts to heat up in the desert of southern Utah, hiking next to or in the water is about the only way to keep cool. Luckily there are plenty of options in Zion where you can enjoy the water while you hike. These hikes run along…or even right through…rivers and creeks, so you can splash around and cool off as you explore.......yay!!! The Best River Hikes in Zion Here are my favorite hikes with water in Zion to stay cool on those hot, dry days: The Narrows Riverside Walk Trail Taylor Creek Lower Pine Creek Falls Pa’Rus Trail The Subway Right Fork of North Creek to Barrier Falls These Zion river hikes range from short and easy to longer, more challenging routes. Many include rock scrambling and boulder hopping. 1. The Narrows The most famous Zion river hike is The Narrows, and it’s absolutely amazing! Wade through the Virgin River with cliff walls soaring above you. It’s a fantastic hike to beat the heat in the summer in Zion, but you can do it any time of year if you have the right gear. Note: The Narrows closes during especially dangerous conditions, so be sure to check the current conditions on the Zion NPS site. LOCATION The trailhead for The Narrows is only accessible via the shuttle for the majority of the year. Take a 40-minute scenic ride to the last stop on the shuttle, Temple Of Sinawava. Then you’ll hike along the Riverside Walk trail to get to the start of The Narrows. LENGTH The farthest you can go without a permit is Big Springs, which is 4.5 miles one way. You could also choose a shorter hike and only go as far as what’s known as Wall Street, which is 2.5 miles one way. DIFFICULTY The main difficulty of The Narrows is in scrambling around and over the various sized rocks in the river, but overall, it’s not too challenging. It’s a pretty family friendly hike if you have good little hikers who love the water, and you can just go as far as you feel comfortable before turning around. TRAIL DETAILS For most of The Narrows hike, you will be wading through the knee-deep water of the Virgin River. You’ll have to cross from one side to the other depending on the depth of the river and the rock along it. Around every turn, you will be greeted by views that will take your breath away…seriously, this is such a special hike! About 2.5 miles in, you will reach the famous Wall Street section of The Narrows, which is the tightest section of the slot canyon. You can continue on another couple miles to an area called Big Springs that has waterfalls coming right out of the walls on the west side of the canyon. That’s the turnaround point to head back because beyond this section, you must have a permit. Check out my in-depth guide to The Narrows here! 2. Riverside Walk Trail If you don’t want to wade all the way into the river, you can stay on the banks with a lovely Zion river hike along the Riverside Walk Trail. LOCATION You’ll find this trail at the last shuttle stop in the canyon - Temple of Sinawava. In the winter, you can drive to the trailhead when the shuttles aren’t running. LENGTH This trail is 2 miles round trip from the parking lot to the start of The Narrows and back. DIFFICULTY This is an easy hike that’s very family-friendly. Riverside Walk is a paved trail with minimal elevation gain, so strollers and wheelchairs can navigate this hike with no problems. TRAIL DETAILS Sheer red rock walls line the path as you walk along the Virgin River on a paved trail which takes you to where The Narrows hike begins. You can take a dirt trail that parallels the river on your way back or a change of scenery and fewer crowds. For more details about this hike, read my Riverside Walk Trail blog post here! 3. Taylor Creek Explore the Kolob Canyons area of Zion on the Taylor Creek hike. The trail runs along a small creek with Navajo sandstone formations soaring above, and the lush vegetation provides shade on a hot summer day. ***The water isn't always running on this one and can dry up in the middle of summer. LOCATION Taylor Creek is located in the Kolob Canyons district of Zion National Park, which is located at Exit 40 on I-15.  As you take the scenic drive into Kolob Canyons, Taylor Creek is the first hike you will come across. LENGTH Taylor Creek is a five-mile round trip hike out and back. If you’re bringing the kiddos, you can always turn around early for a shorter adventure. DIFFICULTY The trail has a short but steep descent to start (and go back up at the end), but overall, it’s not too difficult and is fairly easy to navigate. TRAIL DETAILS About a mile in, you will see the first of two historic homestead cabins that you’ll encounter along the trail. You can peek in the windows and get a sense of what life was like for the settlers who built these remote cabins in the 1930s. Continue on the trail along the creek until you reach the Double Arch Alcove which marks the end of the trail. The alcove is like a massive cave, with a large wall of seeping water and lush green ferns. The double arches are not the open arches you might typically think of, but rather closed arches set in the sandstone high above. Find out more in my Taylor Creek post here! 4. Lower Pine Creek Falls Find a little seclusion in the heart of Zion on the Lower Pine Creek Falls hike. Since this trail is not actually advertised on park maps, it tends to be less crowded, but it’s very cool! LOCATION This hike is on the side of Route 9 on the way to the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. From the Zion Visitor Center, drive 1.5 miles north until just before the series of switchbacks that take you up to the tunnel. Look for a small paved parking area to your left. If you go over a bridge, you have gone too far. LENGTH This hike is very short at only .7 miles round trip, but it packs a lot into that short distance. DIFFICULTY You’ll have to do some  stream hopping and boulder scrambling to reach the pool and waterfall at the end. I’ve done it with my kids many times, but if you prefer a flat, well-defined trail, this isn’t the hike I would recommend. TRAIL DETAILS While this trail starts out easy to follow, you’ll have to cross the stream a few times as you go deeper into the canyon, and the trail becomes less defined. When you reach the first small pool, you’ll have to start climbing up and over some rocks and boulders. But it’s worth it to get to the pool at the end, where you’ll find a nice sandy beach where you can rest and enjoy the waterfall. Check out all my tips for hiking Lower Pine Creek Falls here! 5. Pa’Rus Trail The Pa’Rus Trail is a classic Zion river hike that is accessible for anyone. While you don’t need to get your feet wet on the Pa’Rus Trail, it runs right along the Virgin River, so you can easily take a little side path down to the river if you want to cool off and play in the river. LOCATION The Pa’Rus Trail starts at the Zion Visitor Center and goes along the Virgin River to the South Campground. It ends at Canyon Junction, which is the shuttle stop that takes you into the canyon. LENGTH The trail is 1.7 miles one way, so about 3.5 miles if you take it out and back. DIFFICULTY The Pa’Rus Trail is paved and pretty flat, so it’s great for hiking with the whole family…or you could bike it instead! TRAIL DETAILS The Pa’Rus Trail is perfect for a relaxing stroll and a great intro to Zion National Park, as it features fantastic views of The Watchman rock formation. The paved path takes you over several beautiful bridges that cross the Virgin River, and there are lots of places to stop and let the kids play along the river…and dip your toes in yourself! Find out more about biking the Pa'Rus Trail here! 6. The Subway The Subway is an epic Zion river hike that is totally worth the physical and logistical challenges. This trail might not seem like much at the start, but with every step you take, it gets better and better. Trust me, you’ll be blown away by the beauty when you reach the beautiful blue-green pools at the end! Note: You need a permit to hike the Subway, and they can be hard to get. Find out more and enter the seasonal lottery for Subway permits here. LOCATION This hike starts at Left Fork Trailhead, which is about 8 miles up Kolob Terrace Road. It sits basically between the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center and the Zion Visitor Center in Springdale. LENGTH The Subway is a 9-mile round trip hike, and I would plan for it to take most of the day (about 6-7 hours). DIFFICULTY This is a difficult hike that should only be attempted by experienced hikers. It requires a lot of scrambling over and around big rocks and boulders. There is also a steep descent to get into the canyon at the start of the hike (that, of course, you have to climb back up on your way out). TRAIL DETAILS Hiking The Subway from the bottom means that you do not have to do any technical rappelling on this route, but it’s still quite the challenge. The hike starts on a nicely maintained trail, but things start to get interesting when that trail turns into a steep and rocky descent. When you make it to the bottom of the canyon, take the Left Fork of North Creek stream and follow that the entire way. The whole place is magical, and you’ll encounter so many lovely spots as you make your way to the main attraction. The pools and waterfalls at the end are stunningly gorgeous and will make all your effort to get there absolutely worth it. Check out my guide to hiking The Subway from the bottom up here! 7. Right Fork of North Creek The Right Fork of North Creek to Barrier Falls is less popular and doesn’t require a permit, but it’s still a great Zion river hike that takes you to one of the most gorgeous waterfalls in Zion. Prepare for an all day adventure on this hike. LOCATION You’ll come to the Right Fork Trailhead before you reach the Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road. LENGTH The Right Fork of North Creek is a 11-mile out and back hike, so you should definitely plan for a full day on this trail. DIFFICULTY This is a moderate/difficult hike that starts out fairly easy and gets progressively harder. Expect to be crossing through the creek a lot, and be prepared for some rock scrambling. TRAIL DETAILS From the trailhead, you’ll make your way down to North Creek then follow the Right Fork for the rest of the hike. After about 4.5 miles, you’ll reach Double Falls. As the name implies, these two waterfalls spill down right next to each other, and it’s a beautiful sight. You can continue on for another half mile or so to Barrier Falls, which stops your path and means it’s time to turn around. ***This trail doesn't get a lot of traffic and can be unclear at times. I suggest using an app that will help you keep on trail so you don't get lost. Speaking from experience. Tips for Your Zion River Hike Your choice of footwear is key for many of these hikes! For most of these trails, you’ll want shoes that you can get wet and that also have good traction for scrambling. Even though you’re hiking trails with water, be sure to bring plenty of drinking water – especially in the heat of the summer. And don’t forget snacks! Be aware of the potential for flash flooding in the hikes that go through canyons. Be sure to check the conditions before hiking these trails, especially when rain is in the forecast. With all these fantastic choices available for great water hikes to cool off in the summer, I hope this list helps you add a few water hikes to your Zion itinerary! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Where to Stay Near Zion with Kids: 17 Kid-Friendly Lodging Options

    Heading to southern Utah for a family vacation and wondering where to stay near Zion with kids? Well, the options abound, but I have taken my kids on so many staycations around southern Utah that I can give you all the details on the places the kiddos will absolutely love…and those that will make things easy and comfortable for parents, too. The 17 Best Spots to Stay Near Zion with Kids When choosing where to stay near Zion with kids, these are my top 5 kid-friendly lodging options: Zion Wildflower Zion Ponderosa Timber & Tin Cable Mountain Lodge Ardella Cottage And here are 12 more excellent places to stay near Zion with kids: Cave Lakes Canyon Ranch Basecamp 37° Open Sky The Dwellings Inn on the Cliff AutoCamp Zion Cliffrose Lodge East Zion Resort Zion Glamping Adventures Under Canvas Zion Zion Lodge Best Friends Roadhouse All of these accommodations make great options for where to stay near Zion with kids, so let’s go into the details of what makes each spot awesome for the whole family! 1. Zion Wildflower I love absolutely everything about Zion WIldflower! With a stellar location, an excellent property layout, and several different lodging options, it is truly the perfect place for families wondering where to stay near Zion with kids. At Zion Wildflower, you can choose to stay in a glamping tent, a charming bungalow, or even a covered wagon! My kiddos and I stayed in one of the Grand Mesa tents, which had a king bed, a bunk bed, and a pullout couch, so there was plenty of room for the whole family. But the kids favorite part of staying at Zion Wildflower was the complimentary bikes they could ride around the property…well, that and the amazing swimming pool. You can also use the communal barbecues to grill up dinner, and then play games like cornhole on the lawn. Trust me, the kids will not be bored here! ***One small downside of Zion Wildflower is that they don't have a full kitchen in the tents so you have to plan around that. You have a small fridge and a microwave and enough storage space for some snacks and cereal but that's about is. I do love that they have a communal barbecue area though. The front desk even supplies paper plates and condiments. Find out more details about my stay with my kiddos at Zion Wildflower here! LOCATION Zion Wildflower sits atop a hill in Virgin, UT, providing stunning views of the surrounding mesas. It’s just a 20 minute drive from the Springdale entrance to Zion  National Park, and even closer – about 10 mins – from the Kolob Terrace section of Zion. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Pool & hot tub to splash & soak in (BEST POOL) Yard games for everyone Fire pits to use in the evening Complimentary bicycles to borrow 2. Zion Ponderosa My kids and I come to Zion Ponderosa every year to spend some quality time together while having an absolute blast with all the available activities. The resort is huge, with a wide range of accommodation options to fit your family from vacation homes to cabins to glamping tents and more. The pool is our favorite place to spend the day at Zion Ponderosa. It’s an amazing two-tiered pool with two water slides and two hot tubs. Beyond the pool, Zion Ponderosa offers kayaking in a pond, a climbing wall, a miniature golf course, a bungee trampoline, and a playground for the littler kids. And that’s just what’s on the property! You can also book guided adventures to explore more, including a sunset Jeep tour, a horseback ride, an abandoned mine hike, and a slot canyon UTV tour. Read more about all the things to do with kids at Zion Ponderosa here! LOCATION Conveniently located on the east side of Zion National Park, Zion Ponderosa is in a perfect spot where you can easily get to the less crowded east entrance of the park in just 15 minutes. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Access to all the resort facilities, including a pool and hot tub, activity barn, playground, kyaking, and trampoline (BEST ACTIVITIES) Guided experiences available to book, such as canyoneering & Jeep tours Wide variety of lodging options from fully furnished homes, cabins, glamping tents, and even a campground. Complimentary continental breakfast to start the morning fed 3. Timber & Tin Kanab If you want to make Kanab your home base in Southern Utah (and you should!), Timber & Tin Kanab is a fantastic place to stay with kids. Kanab is my favorite little town in the area, and Timber & Tin is right on Main Street, so it’s easy to walk to great restaurants, cute shops, and the grocery store…older kids can safely head out on their own here. The Timber & Tin property is also full of plenty of things to entertain the kiddos! The pool is awesome and has a hot tub, too. Plus, there’s a unique old restored barn that has tons of games, a ping-pong table, and a theater room to watch movies. Find out more about all the fun we had while staying at Timber & Tin Kanab here! LOCATION Timber & Tin is located right in the center of Kanab. It’s about 35 mins from the east entrance of Zion, and there are tons of incredible hikes and things to do in Kanab, too. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Great pool & hot tub for kids to play in Restored barn with games, ping pong, and a theater room Pavilion and picnic area for eating meals al fresco Excellent location for walking around town (BEST LOCATION FOR OLDER KIDS) 4. Cable Mountain Lodge When you’re choosing where to stay near Zion, you seriously can’t get closer than Cable Mountain Lodge! The park entrance is just a 3 min walk from the lodge, so you won’t have to worry about traffic backups (and full parking lots) to get into the park, which is a blessing when you have impatient kiddos. Cable Mountain Lodge has some lovely amenities as well. The pool is great for cooling down on a hot day, and while the kids splash around, you can appreciate the views of the red rock walls of Zion in the distance. And, believe me, tired parents will appreciate an indulgent experience at The Spa at Cable Mountain Lodge. LOCATION Cable Mountain Lodge is literally steps outside the entrance to Zion National Park in Springdale. You truly can’t beat the location for easy access to the park, as well as restaurants and shops. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES The closest hotel you can get to the west entrance of Zion (BEST LOCATION) Easy access to shops and restaurants in Springdale Outdoor pool & hot tub with views of the rock formations in the park Riverside picnic area with grills available for use 5. Ardella Cottage If you have a big family, Ardella Cottage offers plenty of room for everyone to spread out and have their own space. The historic cottage has been fully renovated with all the modern amenities while keeping its heritage charm. It has four bedrooms and lots of beds, including a cute little indoor tent area with two single beds that the kiddos will totally adore. The property is designed to be family-friendly, and it shows, with all sorts of fun things for the kids to discover. They can get their energy out by bouncing on the trampoline or playing outdoor games like cornhole and giant Jenga. The gardens on the property are also beautiful and great for wandering and hiding in. LOCATION Located in La Verkin, UT, Ardella Cottage is just a 30 minute drive from Zion National Park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Trampoline to bounce around (and get that energy out!) Outdoor games like corn hole, and giant Jenga to play Big fire pit and cooking area to enjoy time outside Secret gardens to discover & explore 6. Cave Lakes Canyon Ranch Cave Lakes Canyon Ranch is a magical glamping resort nestled in a private canyon where you can escape the crowds but also conveniently get to both Zion and Bryce National Parks. The luxury canvas cabin has a king bed and two bunk beds for the kids, and smaller families could fit in one of the glamping tents. The property is extra special because only your family and the other guests have access to explore the trail through the private canyon, featuring ponds, caves, and natural springs. The kiddos will enjoy the yard games and swinging in the hammocks, and you can book a fun tour for the whole family through ROAM Outdoor Adventure Company. Read more about my experience at Cave Lakes here! LOCATION Cave Lakes Canyon Ranch is tucked away in a private canyon near Kanab, UT. It’s about a half an hour from the east entrance to Zion National Park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Hammocks in the hoodoo caves Yard games and paddle boarding Trail access to explore the private canyon with ponds and water springs Adventure tour company offering horseback riding, UTVing, canyoneering, and a via ferrata 7. Basecamp 37° Get off the beaten path at BaseCamp37°, which only has 5 tents on the secluded property, so you can spend some unspoiled quality time as a family. Each tent has a king bed, and some have a futon for extra sleeping space. My younger kiddos cuddled in the big bed with me! Beyond the beautiful views at this desert sanctuary, the highlight for the kids might just be the s’mores supplies that are always stocked in the communal kitchen to use at the fire pit. The two hammocks are also fun for hanging out in. Find out more about my experience glamping with my kids at Basecamp 37° here! LOCATION BaseCamp37° is located 10 minutes from downtown Kanab, in the Chocolate Cliffs of the Grand Staircase. It’s just under an hour from the east entrance of Zion National Park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Fire pit with s’mores supplies stocked in the kitchen Each tent has a private porch to relax on & soak in the views WiFi & solar-powered charging bank to keep electronics charged Two hammocks and other outdoor seating areas 8. Open Sky Indulge in 5-star glamping at Open Sky, which features amazing accommodations in their safari tents. These tents (which sleep 2-5 people, depending on the tent) are so luxurious, you really won’t even feel like you’re in a tent. But I would recommend a stay at Open Sky more for families with older kids, since the littlest ones won’t fully appreciate it. Open Sky offers 5 miles of hiking trails right on the property, so you can go on a little adventure without having to actually go anywhere. And the view of Zion’s West Temple Mountain from just above the property is the most incredible view of this formation I have ever seen! The kiddos especially enjoyed exploring around this area. Read more about how my kids and I enjoyed our stay at Open Sky here! LOCATION Open Sky borders the far west side of Zion National Park in Virgin, UT, so it’s just a half hour drive to the west entrance to the park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Each tent has a private patio with gas fire pit to enjoy time outside (MOST LUXURIOUS) WiFi and bluetooth speakers provided for entertainment Private ensuite bathrooms plus indoor & outdoor showers Small refrigerator & microwave to keep food in the tent 9. The Dwellings The Dwellings is a collection of tiny homes sitting on the rim of the Virgin River in a truly spectacular setting. Each of the 13 dwellings has a small kitchen, a private patio, and a cocktail bar in the backyard, so your family will feel right at home. And the location can’t be beat! The property has its own access point to Confluence Park, which runs along the Virgin River with plenty of spots  to play and swim. There’s even a fun area with a sandy beach, picnic benches, a great swimming spot, and a rope swing which the kids absolutely love. Read about my family's staycation at The Dwellings here! LOCATION The Dwellings is located in La Verkin and is just a half hour away from Zion National Park. It’s also just 5 minutes from a Walmart, which is very handy when you’re traveling with kids, trust me! KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Private access point to Confluence Park Outdoor patio with an awesome view Fully stocked kitchen Pack 'n plays available for the little ones 10. Inn on the Cliff The boutique hotel Inn on the Cliff is a wonderful place to stay in the city of St. George. The modern amenities make for a very comfortable stay, and the kids will definitely appreciate the big flatscreen TV in each room. But the views from the rooftop pool and hot tub will help entice them to get out of the room…seriously, this stunning perspective of St. George is a must-see! Also, you don’t have to worry about breakfast when staying here, because a box filled with pastries, a yogurt parfait, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs is brought to your room every day. And the Cliffside Restaurant on-site is an excellent option for an upscale dinner. LOCATION Inn on the Cliff is located in St. George, UT, about an hour drive from Zion National Park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Pool & hot tub with a gorgeous perspective on the city below Free breakfast box delivered to your room every morning....so yummy! Private balcony in each room WiFi & a 50-inch flatscreen TV for entertainment 11. AutoCamp Zion While staying in an Airstream trailer might not sound family friendly, AutoCamp Zion makes it possible with their BaseCamp Suite which features an Airstream and a tent so it sleeps six. The trailer has a private bathroom with a rain shower, and more bathrooms and showers are available in the communal Clubhouse. The property has a community firepit and lounge area, and you’ll also have your own patio with a fire pit so you can hang out as a family. The kids will love splashing around in the pool, and they can dip their feet in the Virgin River, too, since it runs right through the AutoCamp. The General Store also makes it easy to pick up a quick snack, and The Kitchen offers hot food to grab & go throughout the day, as well as grill kits (with s’mores) if you want to cook over the campfire. LOCATION AutoCamp Zion is situated right along the Virgin River in Virgin, UT, only 20 mins from the west entrance to Zion National Park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Modern clubhouse and a general store to grab groceries Complimentary mountain bikes to use on the property Swimming pool (which is heated seasonally) Adventure tours you can book, from rock climbing to canyoneering to stargazing 12. Cliffrose Lodge Stay within walking distance of Zion at Cliffrose Lodge, with rooms, suites, and villas options to fit your family. You really can’t beat the convenience of staying right in Springdale when visiting Zion with kids. The riverside pool and hot tub will be a big hit with the kiddos, and the views with a backdrop of Zion will take your breath away. LOCATION Cliffrose Lodge is right on the main boulevard in Springdale, just a 10 minute walk from the entrance to Zion. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Pool and hot tub right on the Virgin River Can walk into Zion and skip the entrance traffic jams Easy to walk to restaurants and shops Botanical garden and beautiful grounds to pay and wander around Small playground 13. East Zion Resort East Zion Resort is an awesome place to make your home base for a family vacation to visit both Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, since it’s located right between them. The resort has several lodging options, and one of the treetop cabins was perfect for me and my kiddos. The big windows and deck offer great views of the red rock cliffs, canyons, and mesas around Orderville. We also loved spending time in the heated pool and hot tubs, and East Zion Resort is adding a new pool and lazy river soon which kids will surely love. Get all the details about our experience at East Zion Resort here! LOCATION Sitting right between Zion and Bryce National Park, East Zion Resort is located in Orderville, UT. It’s about half an hour to get to the east entrance of Zion from the resort. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Easy access to Red Hollow Canyon for a great family-friendly hike Heated pool and two hot tubs (with a second pool and lazy river opening soon) Via ferrata experiences available for booking Small kitchen in each treetop cabin for convenient meals 14. Zion Glamping Adventures You might not think glamping and a baby go together, but my stay with a 9-month-old at Zion Glamping Adventures proves that it’s not only possible, but amazing! The location is absolutely perfect for a getaway, and the views are simply stunning. The glamping amenities, including hot showers and pancake breakfasts, were a wonderful convenience when staying with a baby. And the communal outdoor spaces and yard games like cornhole and tetherball are great for older kids. Read more about my experience glamping with a baby at Zion Glamping Adventures here! LOCATION Zion Glamping Adventures is located in Hildale, UT, about an hour away from Zion. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Hang out areas with picnic tables, fire pits, grills, and yard games WiFi, electrical outlets, heat, and A/C (except in the dry tents) Cribs and pack 'n plays available Pet-friendly so you can bring your furry family members, too 15. Under Canvas Zion Under Canvas Zion welcomes families with glamping tents with 4 single beds, and some with additional teepees right next to the tent for more space for the kiddos. You can get a luxury tent with an attached bathroom, or walk to the communal bathrooms (with hot showers). You’ll find plenty to keep the kids entertained at Under Canvas Zion, including outdoor games, a sand volleyball court, and fun teepee swings.  My kiddos favorite thing about our stay was the hot chocolate that was available all day…and of course, the s’more around the firepit at night! Find out more about my family stay at Under Canvas Zion here! Note: Under Canvas Zion is only open from mid-March to early November each year. LOCATION Just 25 minutes from the Springdale entrance to Zion, Under Canvas is conveniently located in Virgin, UT. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Sand volleyball court, teepee swings, and board games to bring to your tent Free hot chocolate available day Nightly firepit w/complimentary s’mores Convenient on-site restaurant with sack lunches available for hiking 16. The Zion Lodge The Zion Lodge is surrounded by soaring canyon walls, wildlife, and world-class hiking. With cabins dating back to 1928, this unique lodge is full of history and rustic charm. It is also the only hotel in Zion National Park. The Lodge is open year-round and can be booked up to a year in advance. During the high season, May-October, I highly recommend booking 6 to 8 months in advance. Lodging options include small cabins, hotel rooms, and larger suites. There is not a swimming pool or jacuzzi on the property, and the Wifi isn't great. The reason for staying at Zion Lodge is 100% about location. Staying inside the park is magical and very convenient. Being able to drive into the canyon and not have to take the shuttle is a huge bonus of staying at The Zion Lodge. One downside of staying at the lodge is that the food options are very limited. There is an onsite restaurant, The Red Rock Grill, but the food is mediocre at best. You will need to drive to Springdale for food. Find out more about my family stay at The Zion Lodge here! LOCATION The Zion Lodge is located inside the Zion Canyon and is the only hotel inside the park. KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES Huge lawn for running and playing Lots of opportunities for wildlife sightings Free bike rentals Convenient on-site restaurant with sack lunches available for hiking 17. Best Friends Road House If you are traveling with a pet or your kiddos are animal lovers, then this is the place for you. Best Friends Roadhouse provides pet-centric lodging that is a lovely place to stay for people, too. The Roadhouse is just 5 miles from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in the heart of Kanab and makes a perfect homebase for other adventures in the area as well. Plus, it has all sorts of amenities for your furry friends, including snuggling cubbies in the rooms and a dog park with a splash zone! The Mercantile also offers necessities, gear, and treats for both people and pets. This is also the perfect place to stay if you are planning on doing an animal sleepover. CHECK OUT ALL THE DETAILS FOR PET SLEEPOVER'S HERE. LOCATION Best Friends Road House is located in Kanab, Ut. It is a 10 minute drive to get to the sanctuary and a 30 minute drive to Zion National Park. KID & PET FRIENDLY AMENITIES Free continental breakfast.....and it's vegan! On site dog park Easy walking distance to shops and restaurants With all these fantastic choices available for lodging so close to Zion National Park, you are sure to find an amazing place to stay on your desert adventures that will make you vacation with your kids the best ever! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Do not vist Zion in the summer ........until you read this

    Hard truth......the summer months in Zion tend to be the busiest and hottest months of the year. Visiting Zion in the summer, May through September, temps can reach up to 110 degrees in the heat of the day. Springdale and the surrounding towns are bustling with tourists, no vacancy signs greet you at every hotel, and restaurants are packed to the brim. So does this mean you shouldn’t visit Zion in the summer? It most certainly does not! It just means that to visit Zion in the summer, there is a bit of extra planning involved. Zion is absolutely beautiful in the summer, and there are lots of great things to do, so read along and let me show you how it's done! :-) In this visiting Zion in the summer blog post you will find.... Tips for navigating the shuttle The 5 best water hikes Tips to avoid the crowds Fun summer activities in Zion The best ways to beat the heat A little about monsoon season in the summer NAVIGATING THE ZION SHUTTLE IN THE SUMMER Mid-day shuttle lines can be hours long, especially on weekends and holidays. Trust me on this; you do not want to be standing in a long shuttle line in the heat of the day. The Zion shuttle only runs to Zion Canyon. All other areas of the park you will drive to. To get on the shuttle, you will park at the Visitor Center which typically fills up by 8 am. So make sure you get to the park before 8 am for the best parking. If you are staying in Springdale, you can ride the Springdale shuttle directly to the visitor center. Once parking fills up in the visitor center, you will need to park in Springdale and take the shuttle to the visitor center. Avoid long lines by going into the park later in the day if going earlier isn't an option. The shuttle lines tend to die out around 2-3pm. CHECK OUT OUR FULL BLOG POST - A Guide to the Zion Shuttle; Zion National Park HOW TO HIKE ZION IN THE SUMMER Zion National Park in summer is the greenest and most beautiful time of the year. It is also scorching, with temps reaching 110ºF during July and August. My best advice for hiking Zion in the summer is to start before sunrise, take lots of water, and choose hikes that run along a stream or river. Starting your hike later in the day is also a great option. Shady trails are your friend. Check out our five favorite Zion in Summer water hikes! TAYLOR CREEK Located in the Kolob Canyon section of Zion, this 5.5 miles round trip hike runs along a stream the whole time. There are two historic cabins along the trail that are intresting. The double arch alcove at the end is a great spot for lunch and snacks. Even if the kiddos don't make it all the way to the end it is worth it to hike along the stream for a ways and enjoy the scenery. THE NARROWS Located at the last shuttle stop in the main canyon, The Narrows starts once you step off the paved trail of Riverside Walk. Bring walking sticks for added support. If hiking with kids, take lots of snacks and plan plenty of time for the kids to play in the water. ALWAYS check the weather before you head into a narrow canyon. Flash floods are always possible. CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT HIKING THE NARROWS PA'RUS TRAIL Not normally thought of as a water hike, the Pa'Rus trail starts at the visitor center goes past the south campground and along the Virgin River. Because it runs along the river, you can take one of the many side paths down to the water to cool off in the river. It is such a great trail for a leisurely evening stroll with the kiddos. LOWER PINE CREEK FALLS This hike isn't advertised by the park, so chances of having some solitude are good if you go first thing in the morning or later in the day. The parking area for this hike is right before the bridge that takes you up to the Carmel Tunnel. The trail starts right by the parking area. You will take it all the way back until you reach a beautiful waterfall. This 1.25 mile round trip trail will take you along a stream for the whole hike. CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT HIKING LOWER PINE CREEK FALLS RIVERSIDE WALK This 2.5 mile round trip hike located in the Zion Canyon takes you right along the Virgin River. You will take the shuttle all the way through the park (45 mins) and get a wonderful scenic view of the canyon. There is a sand trail that runs parallel to the paved trail and is usually less crowded. The end of this hike is the start of The Narrows. CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT HIKING RIVERSIDE WALK TIPS FOR HOW TO AVOID THE ZION CROWDS IN THE SUMMER GO EARLY This is one tip that I can't stress enough. Go early to get parking at the Visitor Center and avoid long shuttle lines. I've seen parking fill up at the visitor center by 7am before. Going into the park early ensures that you will spend the first part of your day hiking without crowds. #worthit WALK THE PA'RUS TRAIL Walk the Pa'Rus Trail and follow the paths leading down to the river. Down by the river it is always quiet and peaceful and I have never had to worry about crowds. To get to the Pa'Rus Trail you can park at the Visitor Center or the Nature Center. GO LATER IN THE DAY Go into the park later in the day, up to 2-3 hours before sunset. If you are going into the Zion Canyon on the shuttle, keep track of when the last shuttle bus leaves the canyon so you don't get stuck in the park after hours. EXPLORE EAST ZION East Zion tends to be quite a bit less busy than Zion Canyon. There are pull-offs all along the drive. Pick a spot to pull off and go exploring. The best spots to pull over will start about 1/4 mile east of the Canyon Overlook parking lot. ***watch for cryptobiotic soil when exploring and stick to the slick rock to minimize your impact on the delicate enviroment. EXPORE THE KOLOB TERRACE SECTION OF ZION Drive the Kolob Terrace road. This south west section of Zion is away from the Zion Canyon and the crowds and it is beautiful. GET OFF ON THE COURT OF THE PATRIARCHS SHUTTLE STOP Explore along the river and hike Sand Bench Loop trail at Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop. This area is often overlooked by tourists and it is such a great area to avoid crowds and play along the river. Sand Bench loop is a short trail that takes you along a little stream and a horse corral. There are plenty of areas for kids to run and play in the sand. I highly recommend taking a lunch and hanging out by the river for the afternoon or evening. CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT SAND BENCH LOOP TRAIL GREAT SUMMER ACTIVITIES WHEN VISITING ZION The O.C. Tanner Amphitheater in Springdale has a great summer concert series. The amphitheater is set against the gorgeous red rocks that Utah is known for. This not only provides a terrific acoustic quality, but also a stunning aesthetic quality. Check and see if there are any summer concerts playing while you are in town. ***Currently closed due to flooding The Zion Canyon Music Festival is held the last weekend of September and features two days of music, great food, beer & wine & a free kids zone with arts, crafts and vendor booths. Check out more details here. (CLOSED FOR THE 2024 SEASON) The Nature Center in Zion next to the South Campground features daily youth specific programs. Kids will learn about powerful geological forces and much more. All programs are carefully developed by staff to create a fun and enjoyable learning experience for visiting youth and their families. The Nature Center is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Virgin River is generally prime for tubing from May - July. Rent or buy a tube at Zion Outfitters in Springdale and enjoy a leisurely 2-mile float through Springdale. Then get off at the Springdale park and take the Springdale shuttle back into town. You can also head to Virgin and go with Zion Tubbing. So much fun and they provide the tubs and shuttle you back and forth! Rent an E bike from one of the many rental companies in Springdale & bike the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Let the electric motor do the work so you can spend your energy soaking in the scenery! This is one of my favorite summer activities! TIPS TO BEAT THE HEAT Early mornings are always the best time of day to start hiking if you want your best shot at beating the heat. Chose water hikes. See our favorite water hikes listed above. Ice cream is always the great way to cool off, right?!? We love getting a soft serve cone at Castle Dome Cafe at the Zion Lodge and eating it while sitting on the grassy field in front of the lodge. It is about as good as it gets. Finding spots to splash and play along the Virgin River is a great way to cool off from the summer sun. A few of our favorite spots include, the many paths down to the river along the Pa'rus trail, anywhere along Riverside Walk, Canyon Junction has a fun spot to slide down the rocks and into the river, and Springdale Park. MONSOON SEASON IN ZION July, August, and September are the hottest months for Zion, coinciding with the monsoon season when afternoon thunderstorms are likely. The term "monsoon" refers to a shift in wind patterns that bring tropical air to typically desert locations, such as Arizona and the Desert Southwest. Thunderstorms with heavy rain can cause severe flooding in canyons, often with sudden and powerful effects. Water levels can rise quickly downstream from heavy rain, even if the thunderstorm is miles away. Make sure to always check the weather before heading into any slot canyon and if you are planning to visit during these months be prepared for possible evening storms. There you have it! It can be done! You can plan a trip to Zion in the summer without sitting in long lines and sweating buckets in the heat of the day. I hope these tips and recommendations help you plan a magical and fun trip to Zion in the summer. Happy Adventuring, Arika CHECK OUT THESE OTHER RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Ultimate Guide to Brian Head, Utah ; A Year-Round Destination in the Desert

    Brian Head, Utah stands out…literally! This resort town rises above the desert landscape of southern Utah with an elevation of 9,800 feet. The elevation makes Brian Head, Utah an awesome place to escape the summer heat when the surrounding area is scorching, as well as an amazing ski destination when it snows in the winter......and don't forget about that beautiful fall color. How to Get to Brian Head Brian Head sits in a fantastic location to explore southern Utah and is conveniently located to both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. It’s just over an hour to drive from Brian Head to Bryce Canyon National Park and about an hour and a half from Brian Head to East Zion. Closest Airport to Brian Head, Utah While the closest airport to Brian Head, Utah is actually St. George Regional Airport, that airport has very limited flights. Luckily, Brian Head is right between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, so you have a couple bigger airport options. Las Vegas International Airport is only 3 hours from Brian Head, and Salt Lake City International Airport is 3.5 hours from Brian Head. When to Visit Brian Head, Utah The best thing about Brian Head is that it truly is a year-round destination! While Zion in the summer is extremely hot, Brian Head is much cooler thanks to its higher elevation. And in the winter, Brian Head is the place to play in the snow in southern Utah. Brian Head is also a really great place to see the first signs of fall foliage in southern Utah and it is spectacular! SUMMER IN BRIAN HEAD Summer is honestly so nice in Brian Head! The average temps are in the high 60s or low 70s, and it’s just such a lovely escape from the desert heat. Thunderstorms are common in the late summer in Brian Head though, so be sure to check the forecast, especially if you’re exploring outside. Things to Do in Brian Head, Utah in Summer I absolutely love Brian Head in the summer to escape the heat. We visited Brian Head for the 4th of July last year, and it was seriously so much fun. The celebration included a concert, food vendors, shopping booths, and, of course, fireworks! Even if you don’t visit for the holiday, you’ll discover so many awesome things to do in Brian Head, Utah during the summer. Hiking in Brian Head There are tons of trails to explore around Brian Head, and the mild temps make them comfortable in the desert summer. Here are a couple of my favorite hikes in Brian Head: Twisted Forest Trail - This trail is 1-mile out and back trail. It has a decent amount of elevation gain as you make your way to a stark forest of  the most magical twisted bristlecone pines and expansive views of Cedar Breaks in the distance. The road leading to the hike is dirt and can be a little bumpy. Hidden Haven Waterfall - Just downhill from Brian Head is this short hike to a unique waterfall running over blocky rocks. While it’s fairly family-friendly, flooding has washed out some parts of the trail. Definitely visit in the spring if you want to see the waterfall flowing! Check out this blog post for more amazing waterfalls in southern Utah! Explore Cedar Breaks National Monument Just 5 minutes south of Brian Head is this hidden gem in southern Utah, Cedar Breaks National Monument. Also known as the “Circle of the Painted Cliffs,” the landscape of Cedar Breaks is a naturally-formed rock coliseum featuring colorful arches, hoodoos, and canyons. Cedar Breaks is at even higher elevation than Brian Head – around 10,000 feet – so it’s the perfect place to hike when the rest of the desert is too hot. The Alpine Pond Hike is a 2-mile loop that really showcases the beauty of Cedar Breaks, including the ancient bristlecone pine groves. Discover other awesome southern Utah state parks and national monuments in this blog post! Hike Ashdown Gorge An excellent alternative to The Narrows in Zion is Ashdown Gorge. Just 30 minutes from Brian Head, this hike is the perfect summer water hike. The slot canyon section is especially pretty, and if you time your hike for a return in the late afternoon, you’ll catch beautiful shadows and golden colors on the canyon walls. You can turn around at any point, but I highly recommend at least going out past Flanigan Arch for about 10 minutes until the trail forks to the left. Take this fork for half a mile or so, and you’ll be rewarded with two amazing waterfalls. Find more details about hiking Ashdown Gorge here! Adventure Zone at Brian Head Resort On the weekends, visit this family play paradise on the mountain at Brian Head. The whole family will have a blast with all the Adventure Zone activities, including a 300-foot zipline, a bungee trampoline, summer tubing, and a rock climbing wall. Plus, you can try your hand in the batting cage and on the disc golf course. Enjoy a scenic chair lift ride for a relaxing break from the fun. Local tip: Tickets for the Adventure Zone at Brian Head start at $15. Buy your tickets online in advance for the best prices. Brian Head Mountain Bike Park If you love mountain biking, the bike park at Brian Head is a fantastic place to spend a summer day on the singletrack. The mountain features more than 100 miles of downhill trails, and you’ll also have access to 100 more miles of cross-country trails nearby. Brian Head is really a secret mecca of mountain biking that you must visit! Local tip: You must purchase a ticket for the Brian Head Bike Park, and the earlier you buy, the cheaper the tickets will be. WINTER IN BRIAN HEAD Brian Head gets an average of 218 inches of snow each year, so you can enjoy all sorts of snow sports in the winter.  Bring layers, especially if you plan to visit nearby southern Utah destinations, since Brian Head is significantly colder than other places like Zion in the winter. Things to Do in Brian Head, Utah in Winter While you might think the southern Utah desert is the place to find warmth in the winter, Brian Head is actually a ski destination. This mountain town gets plenty of snow for all your favorite winter activities! Skiing at Brian Head Resort Hitting the slopes with snow-dusted red sandstone hoodoos in the distance is a special experience…there’s truly no other resort like it! Brian Head has the highest base of all of Utah’s ski resorts at 9600’ feet and features 71 runs with 1,320 feet of vert. Compared to major ski resorts, the lift tickets at Brian Head Resort are an absolute steal, so it really is a hidden gem for skiers and snowboarders. I grew up skiing in Brian head and this year was the first year taking my kids. It was a pretty awesome experience. My daughter had already gone snowboarding once a few weeks prior with a friend so she had the beginner skills. My youngest, 8 year old, was totally new so I put him in ski school for the morning. Even though both kids did lots and lots of falling they still loved the experience. I'm thinking next winter might include passes for these two. Snow Tubing at Giant Steps Snow tubbing without all the work of climbing back up the hill?......yes please! My kids couldn’t get enough of riding the escalator up then flying down the mountain in the tube…and I loved it, too! The tubes are fast, so you can get a ton of trips up and down the hill. We have gone tubbing in Brian Head a few times now. The first time my kiddos we much smaller but no matter the age, the kids loved the snow tubbing Tickets for snow tubing are $25 per person for a 1.5 hour session, and you can buy them online or at the ticket office. Snowmobiling in the Backcountry Another awesome winter family adventure in Brian Head is snowmobiling! Thunder Mountain Sports offers a 1.5 hour snowmobile tour through the backcountry around Brian Head that was an experience my whole family loved. I had a great time driving the snowmobile, and the kiddos really enjoyed the ride…and stopping to play in the snow sometimes. The views along the way and from the Bear Canyon overlook were incredible, too. Read more about our snowmobiling experience and winter family fun in Brian Head & Cedar City here! Snowshoeing in Cedar Breaks If you’ve wanted to try snowshoeing but don’t have the gear or know how, Cedar Breaks National Monument offers guided beginner snowshoe tours throughout the winter season…and they’re free! The 1-mile round trip snowshoe experience is led by rangers and includes snowshoes and poles to borrow for the trip. You can sign up for a Cedar Breaks National Monument snowshoe tour here. You can also rent snowshoes from Georg’s Ski Shop if you want to go on your own snowshoe adventure in Brian Head. Note: UT-148 closes in the winter, but you can still access Cedar Breaks from Brian Head on UT-143. Ice Skating at the Resort Lace up your ice skates and glide around through trees on the unique figure eight rink in a forested mountain setting at Brian Head Ice. The skating season runs from late November through February, and tickets are $20 per adult and $15 per kid. Skate rental is an additional $5 if you don’t have your own. PRO TIP - This rink is only open for a very limited time in the heart of winter. Call ahead to see if it will be open. Visit Duck Creek Village About 45 minutes away from Brian Head is Duck Creek Village, a quaint town which sits on the edge of a mountain meadow in Dixie National Forest. My grandparents had a cabin in Duck Creek when I was growing up, so I have fond memories of winters playing in the snow and sitting by the crackling fire there. The quiet and solitude of Duck Creek really makes a great relaxing getaway from the bustling resort of Brian Head. There are a couple of fun snow tubing hills in Duck Creek, and I also love snowshoeing at Navajo Lake, which is never crowded. If you’re looking for a little adventure, I also highly recommend renting a snowmobile from Utah Offroad Outfitters and heading to Strawberry Point for stunning views. For more details about Duck Creek and why I love it so much, check out my guide to visiting Duck Creek, Utah in the winter! Where to stay in Brian Head Brian Head makes a great base camp for exploring southern Utah, and you have several options for accommodations. There are plenty of cute Airbnb/Vrbo cabin & condos for rent or you can go with Brian Head ski resort hotels. The nearby town of Parowan has some cheaper hotel options which are convenient if you’re planning to drive around for some cool day trips near Zion. Brian Head Lodge – The main resort on the mountain with a rustic vibe and modern amenities, including an indoor pool with waterfall and an outdoor hot tub. Cedar Breaks Lodge - Another good lodge option close to the ski slopes with an indoor pool & hot tub. Hotels in Parowan - The nearby town of Parowan at the base of the mountain has several hotel options about a 20 minute drive from Brian Head. Hotels in Cedar City - Cedar City has even more hotel options, but it’s a longer drive of about 40 minutes from Brian Head. On our most recent trip to Brian Head we stay in this cozy Airbnb condo. The condo was situated right in the heart of Brian Head with quick walking distance to the resort, restaurants and shops. The condo sleeps 6 with a fully stocked kitchen. I can't wait to come back and stay this summer! I highly recommend. Where to Eat in Brian Head, Utah Brian Head has limited eating options. That is why a fully stocked kitchen is a must. Here is the rundown of food options: Pizano’s – Casual pizza place with great specialty pies. The chicken parmesan sandwich is delicious! The food has been great every time we have been. Sook Jai Thai Cuisine - I hear this place is tasty. The menu is Thai food including curries and noodles. Lift Bar and Patio - Lodge restaurant with a breakfast buffet and burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more for dinner. The food is very mediocre. Mountain Peak Coffee - Local coffee shop with an excellent selection of sandwiches. I was so excited they were open on a Monday morning in the winter! Note: Many of the resort restaurants are only open seasonally (either summer or winter). Check out this Brian Head Resort dining guide to see what’s open during your visit. Tips for Visiting Brian Head During ski season, a free Brian Head shuttle runs from the resort through town, making it super easy to get around. The shuttle also runs during popular summer events. Many places in Brian Head are only open seasonally (or have different hours in different seasons)...always check before you go, so you aren’t disappointed. Brian Head has lots of fun events throughout the year. Take a peek at this Brian Head events calendar to see what’s going on during your time there. If you’re visiting Brian Head while exploring more of southern Utah, remember that weather in Brian Head will be significantly cooler than other places like Zion. Make sure to check the proper forecast to be prepared. Bring layers! I hope this post inspires you to add a stop at Brian Head on your visit to Southern Utah! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Have an Exciting Adventure at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

    While the desert of Southern Utah is known for spectacular landscapes, Coral Pink Sand Dunes stands out as a special spot that’s practically begging you to take off your shoes and play in the huge piles of soft sand. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is full of fun adventures for the whole family and is a must-visit when you’re in the area. Beyond hiking up and down the sand dunes, you can ride around the hilly terrain in ATVs, get a birds-eye view while rappelling down a cliff face, or have the exhilarating experience of sandboarding or sledding down the dunes. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Info The unique sand dunes here were formed by erosion of the sandstone cliffs in the area between 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Wind funneled through a notch between the Moquith and Moccasin mountains picks up sand due to a phenomenon called the Venturi effect. The wind deposits the sand on the other side, creating the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. The dunes are constantly changing and can move up to 50 feet each year! LOCATION Coral Pink Sand Dunes is located in Kanab, UT, one of my favorite little towns in southern Utah. It’s a great home base to explore this area of the desert, and there are so many awesome things to do in Kanab. If you’re coming from Springdale, Coral Pink Sand Dunes is about an hour away from the west entrance of Zion, and is just a half hour drive if you’re staying at East Zion Resort in Orderville. ENTRANCE FEE The day-use fee for Coral Pink Sand Dunes is $15 per vehicle. A Utah State Parks Annual Pass ($125, for residents only) will also get you into the park. Local tip: You can purchase your Coral Pink Sand Dunes day pass online the day of your visit to save time when you get to the park. HOURS Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is open 7 days a week, during daylight hours. When to Visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes While Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is open year-round, the best time to visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes is spring or fall for the best weather conditions. Summer gets super hot in the southern Utah desert, and winter can be really windy and cold at the sand dunes. On hot days, the sand can be scorching during the day with the sun beating down, but towards the end of the day, I think the warm sand is surprisingly perfect. Things to Do at Coral Pink Sand Dunes The red mounds of sand are so inviting, you won’t be able to resist playing in the sand at Coral Pink Sand Dunes! And playing is encouraged here, with all sorts of fun ways to feel the sand between your toes. Sandboarding & Sledding Sledding or sandboarding down the massive hills of red sand is definitely the highlight of visiting Coral Pink Sand Dunes! Sledding is a great intro to sliding down the dunes, since you stay seated the whole time. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try sandboarding, where you stand up on your way down. It’s kind of like snowboarding in a totally different landscape. Whichever mode you choose, you can experiment with different hills for different speeds. My kiddos absolutely loved sandboarding and sledding here, and it’s a blast for adults, too. The sand dunes are basically a giant playground where you can hike up, sled down, and repeat as much you want! Sandboard/Sled Rental Info: The Visitor Center offers sleds and sandboards for rent on a first-come/first-serve basis for $25 per board. You must return your rental 30 mins before the Visitor Center closes, which varies based on daylight hours, so be sure to ask when you pick up your rental. Tips: Be sure to get a wax square when you rent your sled or board to help it go faster. Also, I recommend bringing goggles in case it gets windy to keep the sand out of your eyes. ATV Touring The majority of the sand dunes are open to off-road vehicles, and riding around the hills and mountains of sand in an ATV is an incredible adventure! ROAM is the exclusive UTV provider in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, and they offer several awesome tour options. Experience the best of Coral Pink Sand Dunes with a tour that takes you on a UHV adventure around the dunes, followed by a hike through Coral Pink Slot Canyon, and then sledding or sandboarding down Star Dune. Or take a sunset UHV tour that will take your breath away with panoramic views, and includes s’mores and stargazing after the sun goes down. Local tip: While I haven’t off-roaded with ROAM myself (yet!), I have done other tours with them, including a via ferrata and a horseback ride in Cave Lakes, and they were wonderful to work with! Note: If you have your own OHV, you are allowed to ride around the dunes and explore on your own, and the Sand Highway and South Boundary Trail are popular OHV areas. Just be sure to check out the park OHV regulations before you head out. Rappelling Another available adventure in Coral Pink Sand Dunes is rappelling off the cliff faces in Coral Sands Canyon. All Ways Adventures offers private rappelling trips in Coral Pink Sand Dunes which are great for everyone from families to solo travelers. You’ll get the chance to raise your adrenaline while rappelling from multiple stations on the cliff, and you’ll experience breathtaking views from a unique, high-up vantage point in Coral Pink Sand Dunes. ROAM also offers a group tour rappelling experience at the Coral Pink Cliffs, which includes a UTV ride to the cliffs. You’ll follow an easy via ferrata course to the top of the cliff, before choosing from a few rappels which range in height and difficulty…you can try them all if you want! Hiking One of the best and simplest ways to explore Coral Pink Sand Dunes is to hike around the mountains and mounds of sand. While there are no defined hiking trails in the sand, you can choose your own adventure through the dunes. As you drive through the park, you’ll see several places to pull over and you can just jump out and run up and down the sand hills. If your kids have some pent up energy, this can be a great way to tire them out, believe me! The soft sand also makes for an excellent workout walking up and down the hills if you want to get your legs ready for more incredible hiking in southern Utah (like Angel’s Landing in Zion or Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon). Note: There is also a boardwalk to an observation deck where you can get an amazing view of the dunes without having to walk through the sand. Camping Extend your adventure at Coral Pink Sand Dunes by spending a night (or several) at the campground in the park. While I haven’t camped here yet, I always think it looks like such a cool place to camp, and it’s on my list to do one day. The campground at Coral Pink Sand Dunes has 34 sites for tents or RVs, and there are modern restrooms with hot showers for when you need to clean up (you or the kids, haha). Nightly rates range from $28-$55, and you can make Coral Pink Sand Dunes campground reservations here. Note: Campfires are allowed here, and firewood is available for purchase. Additional Info & Tips for Visiting Coral Pink Sand Dunes This is the only place in the world where you can find the Coral Pink Tiger Beetle, and 265 acres of the dunes are designated as a conservation area to protect its habitat. Pets are allowed at Coral Pink Sand Dunes, but must be on a leash (6 feet or less) at all times. Just be aware that the sand is hot, so make sure to protect the paws of your furry friends. There is a great day use area featuring several picnic tables and barbecue grills if you want to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the dunes. Kanab also has lots of excellent options for food, including one of my absolute favorites in Southern Utah, Sego. The small plates menu provided one of the best meals of my life! This would be a fantastic place to splurge for a romantic dinner or a girls night. Another more family-friendly option is Iron Horse Restaurant, which serves tasty BBQ and more, often with live music. The restaurant is just 30 mins from Coral Pink Sand Dunes and is definitely worth a stop. For more family fun activities in and around Kanab, check out my full guide to a family vacation in Kanab, UT here. And don’t miss these other must-see state parks in Southern Utah, too! If you’re ready for an adventure at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, let us capture the fun on camera for lasting memories! We love offering photo sessions at Coral Pink Sand Dunes, because the mountains of sand make an amazing backdrop for a family photo session or a couples shoot, and you can book yours here! I hope this post inspires you to add a stop at Coral Pink Sand Dunes on your visit to Southern Utah! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Explore Valley Of Fire State Park Nevada (Between Las Vegas And Zion National Park)

    As one of the best outdoor destinations near Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park Nevada is a perfect stop on the way from Vegas to Zion National Park. Located northeast of Las Vegas and southwest of Zion, the park boasts stunning red and pink rock formations, slot canyons, and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Look no farther for family-friendly adventures and breathtaking landscapes as either a day trip or a stop on your next road trip. How To Get To Valley Of Fire State Park Nevada One of the best ways to reach Valley of Fire State Park Nevada is from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. The park is located 1 hour from the airport, making it an easy day trip from Las Vegas or a great place to stop and explore on your way to Southern Utah. Take I-15 north from the city to exit 75, Valley of Fire Highway. Follow Valley of Fire Highway another 12 miles to reach the park. The next closest airport, at only 1 hour and 30 minutes away, is St George Regional Airport located in St George, Utah. While the flight options aren’t as expansive as those offered from Harry Reid International Airport, this airport is a centrally located hub for vacationers looking to split their time between Valley of Fire State Park Nevada and Southern Utah. Take I-15 south from the city to exit 93, NV-169 also known as Moapa Valley Boulevard. Follow NV-169 to Valley of Fire Highway where you can enter the park. For those already visiting Zion National Park, Valley of Fire State Park Nevada is only 2 hours and 30 minutes away. This is an easy drive on well marked roads making it a fun day trip from Zion National Park. For full driving directions click here. When Is The Best Time To Visit Valley Of Fire State Park Nevada? The best time to visit Valley of Fire State Park Nevada is from October through April when temperatures are more pleasant and mild. Summers can be extremely hot, making even short hikes difficult due to the intense heat. Regardless of the season, it's essential to pack water. In all seasons, the park is less crowded earlier in the day. Valley Of Fire State Park Nevada Info Valley of Fire State Park Nevada charges an entrance fee of $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents. It's important to note that cell service is unavailable within the park, so make sure to pick up a park map or download maps prior to arrival. While exploring, pets are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet to ensure the safety of wildlife and other visitors. LOCATION The park is primarily accessed via two main roads: Valley of Fire Highway and Mouse’s Tank Road. Valley of Fire Highway hosts several iconic sights and hiking opportunities, including Atlatl Rock, Beehives, Elephant Rock, and Seven Sisters. Mouse’s Tank Road, also known as White Domes Road, leads northward into the park and offers access to stops like Mouse’s Tank, Rainbow Vista, Fire Wave, and White Domes. These well-maintained roads provide convenient access to the park's hikes and sights, making it easy for visitors to explore the park. Valley Of Fire Nevada Best Hikes White Domes Loop This 1.1 mile loop is rated as easy to moderate due to some loose sand and rough terrain. Your reward for trudging through the sand at the start of the hike is a surprise slot canyon and the ruins of an old movie set making this a popular hike among visitors . Bathrooms and picnic tables are available at the trailhead. Fire Wave Featuring the iconic Fire Wave, the Fire Wave Trail is a moderate 1.5 mile out and back hike with minimal elevation gain. Sand and rough terrain make this hike perfect for those looking for a quick adventure and the wave-like rock formations are ideal for climbing and running along. Rainbow Vista The Rainbow Vista trailhead is home to the iconic Mouse’s Tank Road photo-op. After capturing that Instagram worthy pic, explore this easy, family friendly hike. In only 1 mile, you’ll get beautiful rock formations and an incredible view over Fire Canyon. This trail can be especially hot in the summer months, so try to hit it first thing in the morning. Mouse’s Tank Mouse’s Tank is a must-hike trail for visitors with kids. The 0.75 mile trail has some loose sand, but is still rated an easy hike. Kids will enjoy the opportunities for off-trail rock scrambling as well as the many petroglyphs found along the way. Atlatl Rock While not a true hike, Atlatl Rock is a must-see while in Valley of Fire State Park Nevada. From the parking lot, climb 50 ft up a sturdy metal staircase to be treated to red rocks covered in vivid petroglyphs. The rock gets its name from one of the most easily identifiable petroglyphs, a precursor to the bow and arrow called an atlatl. Elephant Rock Elephant Rock is a unique, aptly named elephant shaped rock formation. To reach Elephant Rock, it is an easy 0.2 mile hike. For those wanting a bit more adventure, continue on for an easy to moderate 1.25 mile loop. Please note, while you can climb up to the rock formation, it is not permitted to climb the elephant itself. What To Pack HIKING SHOES OR HIKING SANDALS - Hiking shoes or hiking sandals are an excellent option for hiking in Valley of Fire. Click here for my favorite hiking sandals on the planet..... I'm a Teva's girl! HIKING CLOTHES - Wear comfortable, light and breathable clothes if visiting in the summer. If visiting in the spring/fall, bring a light jacket. Chances are it will warm up mid-day. SUNSCREEN - Always take sunscreen with you wherever you go in the desert HAT & SUNGLASSES - The sun is intense. Having a hat and sunglasses is a must. SNACKS, SACK LUNCH, AND LOTS OF WATER - Always hike with snacks and plenty of water. Bring a lunch with you if you want to spend more than 3-4 hours in the park since there aren't any place to eat in the park, and the closest food spot is 30 minutes away. HIKING DAY PACK - You will want a small backpack to carry snacks, water, camera & phone. Other Things To Do Nearby Valley of Fire State Park Nevada can be explored in one day. While in the area, make it a full vacation by visiting some of my other favorite cities and parks. St. George Snow Canyon State Park Hurricane Valley 13 Non-Hiking Activities Hiking Zion With Kids 16 Things To Know Before Visiting Zion Ten Ways To Spend 1 Day In Zion Where to stay when visiting Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada Finding the perfect lodging for your trip can be a struggle.....but it doesn't have to be! I have stayed at the Valley Of Fire Campgrounds a few times and loved it so much, so that is my top choice for you. Check out my other favorite places to stay (yes, I’ve spent the night at them all!) near Valley of Fire State Park Nevada and in Southern Utah. Inn on the Cliff Open Sky Zion Zion Wildflower The Dwellings I hope this post inspires you to make a stop at Valley of Fire State Park on your drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • 21 Incredible Things to Do in St. George, Utah

    Located in the southwest corner of the state, St. George, Utah is a beautiful city with a population of approximately 200,000 residents. Known for its stunning red sandstone cliffs, the area offers exciting outdoor recreation opportunities for both the seasoned hiker and beginner. With so many things to do in St George,  Utah, this exciting city is a popular destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Notably, it's conveniently situated just an hour's drive away from the iconic Zion National Park, adding to the city's appeal. How To Get To St George, Utah St. George Regional Airport - This small but mighty airport is located only 20 minutes from the city center, southeast of  town. There are fewer flight options but if you’re lucky enough to find a good flight, the convenience is unmatched. Las Vegas Airport - With ample flight options and the chance to score a great deal on tickets, Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas is another great option for travelers looking to visit St George, Utah. The airport is located only 1 hour 45 minutes from the city center, making for an easy drive on well maintained roads. Pro tip - Stop off at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada to make it a full road trip experience! Salt Lake City Airport - While not quite as convenient as the previous two options, driving in from the north is also an option for visitors looking to see more of Utah. St George is located 4 hours south of Salt Lake City International Airport. When Is The Best Time To Visit St George, Utah? With an average of over 300 sunny days per year and only approximately 8 inches of rain annually, you’ll find things to do in St George, Utah in every season. Even in the winter, it rarely snows! ☀️Summer In St George, Utah (June-September) Summer is the busy season in Southern Utah. Plan for hot weather- temperatures average highs around 100F and lows around 75F. If you’re planning on exploring outside, aim for earlier in the day to beat the heat. When the heat gets to be too much, there are plenty of things to do in St George, Utah indoors to beat the heat. 🍁🌼Spring & Fall In St George, Utah (April & May, October & November) Spring and fall are the sweet spots for weather in St George. The area is less crowded than during the summer months and temperatures are milder. Average temperatures range from highs between 70-80F and lows around 50-60F. Mornings and evenings are chillier, but the afternoon warms up quickly, making this an excellent time to visit for those looking to explore outside. ❄️Winter In St George, Utah (December- March) Winter is the off-season in St George, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit! Perks for visiting in the winter are the potential for lower rates on lodging and adventures, and the opportunity to have the parks almost to yourself. Keep in mind, this is Southern Utah, so even though it’s winter, the average high temperatures are around 55F and lows around 35F. This makes for great hiking weather, and hiking is one of the best things to do in St George, Utah. CLICK FOR MORE INFO 21 Awesome Things To Do In St George, Utah With such beautiful weather year round and so many incredible things to do in and around St George, I have created a list of 21 things to do on your visit to this beautiful little town in Southern Utah. 1. St George City Parks 2. Where To Eat in St George, Utah 3. Check Out Snow Canyon State Park 4. E-Bike Rentals in St. George 5. Lodging in St George, Utah 6. Explore Zion National Park 7. Take a Day Trip To Bryce Canyon National Park 8. Visit Valley of Fire State Park 9. Visit the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City 10. Spend a Day in Duck Creek, Utah 11. Family Friendly Activities and Museums in St. George 12. Hike in the Red Cliffs National Reserve 13. Enjoy the Water at Sand Hollow State Park 14. Get Off The Beaten Path in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion 15. See a stunning waterfall at Gunlock State Park 16 - Visit Veyo Pool and Crawdad Canyon 17 - Take An ATV/UTV Sand Dune Tour 18. Experience Water Fun at Quail Creek State Park 19. Visit Cathedral Gorge State Park (Nevada) 20. Take a day trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument 21. Go cliff jumping at Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Recreation Area 1. St George City Parks With such exciting state and national parks in the area, it could be easy to overlook the smaller city parks. This would be a huge mistake, especially for families with kids as St George has some epic city parks! Pioneer Park, located on the north side of the city in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is home to the St George Narrows, Powell Eagle Nest, and the Dixie Sugarloaf. There aren’t any true trails to hike, but the rock scrambling and exploring will keep kids busy for hours. St George, Utah is also home to Thunder Junction All Abilities Park. This unique park features playground equipment, climbing walls, a splash pad, and a train to ride. The best part is that everything at Thunder Junction is wheelchair accessible making it fun for all visitors. With so many things to do in St George, Utah parks, your kids will have the best time. ****Homemake biscuits and jam from Wood Ash Rye 2. Where To Eat in St George, Utah When you’re done exploring and need to refuel, St George has you covered. Visit Morty’s Cafe for a gourmet burger and fries. While I love the Hawaiian with some sweet potato fries, they also have excellent vegetarian options. For something a little fancier, Cliffside Restaurant offers upscale American cuisine with scenic views of the city that can’t be beat. For some comfort food, Wood Ash Rye in downtown St. George offers breakfast, brunch, and dinner all feature regionally sourced ingredients used in creative dishes. Farmstead is another favorite in St George, Utah. This European-style bakery has the most delicious sandwiches and baked goods with seating both inside and out. Soaking up the beautiful weather with a nice pastry on the patio is one of my favorite things to do in St George, Utah. 3. Check Out Snow Canyon State Park Snow Canyon State Park is a locals’ hidden gem and one of the best things to do in St George, Utah. Trust me, anywhere besides Utah, this beautiful park would be in the running for National Park status. Running around the Petrified Sand Dunes is one of the most fun things to do in St George, Utah, and kids will love it. Jenny’s Canyon, while not a true slot canyon, is a short and sweet hike with a big reward. The faux slot canyon makes for great rock scrambling and epic pictures. Lava Flow Trail treats you to the unique geological formation of lava tubes. These lava tubes formed when the outer surface of a lava flow cooled and hardened while the lava inside continued to flow downhill. Eventually all of the lava flowed out, leaving cave-like tubes for you to explore. Don’t forget a flashlight if you plan to explore inside the lava tubes- it’s really dark! This is one of the most unique things to do in St George, Utah, and you won’t want to miss it. Some other favorites for hiking, exploring, and beautiful photo-ops are White Rocks, Cinder Cone Trail, and Pioneer Names. Day-use passes can be purchased online or at the entrance gate for $15 for non-residents and $10 for Utah residents. 4. E-Bike Rentals in St. George When you are in St George, Utah with kids, renting e-bikes is a must. Located right outside the Snow Canyon State Park entrance, Rampage Rentals offers reasonably priced daily e-bike rentals. You can ride directly from the rental parking lot, into the park, and through the canyon making this a super accessible adventure. Kids especially love how fast they get to go on e-bikes (up to 25mph!) You will need to pay the park entrance fee or show your day-use pass at the gate even if you are cycling in. Don’t miss one of my favorite things to do in St George, Utah! 5. Lodging in St George, Utah When you’re looking for where to stay in St George, Utah, the city has plenty of lodging options, but for those seeking something unique, check out the boutique hotel Inn on the Cliff. Each room at this beautifully renovated hotel features stunning views of the city below, but for the best view, in my opinion, hit up the four season hot tub and take in a gorgeous perspective of St George while you relax after a long day of hiking. The Cliffside Restaurant is on site and is an excellent option for a nice dinner, or put on the pjs and have them bring it straight from the kitchen to your room! A set menu room service breakfast is also provided by the hotel and is best enjoyed on your balcony as you watch the sun rise. The Advenire in St. George is another great option. This boutique hotel has a gorgeous modern pioneer aesthetic…plus a rooftop terrace and Wood Ash Rye restaurant. If sleeping under the stars is a bit more your speed, check out these 8 Glamping Options located near St George, Utah and Zion National Park. 6. Explore Zion National Park Spend a day or two exploring Zion National Park while visiting St. George, Utah. With epic hikes among the sandstone cliffs, the Virgin River to cool off in, and wildlife like mule deer and bighorn sheep to spot, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. Like St George, Zion is great to visit in all seasons, even in winter! The Zion shuttle runs most of the year, but for a few months every winter, visitors get the unique opportunity to drive through the canyon. My favorite adventure-filled hikes in Zion include Clear Creek, The Narrows, Canyon Overlook, and Observation Point. Distance From St George The Springdale entrance to Zion National Park is only 1 hour away from St. George, west along UT-9. 7. Take a Day Trip To Bryce Canyon National Park When visiting Southern Utah, a road trip to Bryce Canyon National Park is always a great idea. Visiting Bryce is a quick and easy day trip from St George, Utah. If you’re only spending one day in the park, make sure to check out my favorite family-friendly hike, Navajo Loop Trail. Bryce Canyon National Park is especially beautiful in winter. The contrast of white snow against the red hoodoos is not to be missed. Distance From St George Bryce Canyon National Park is only 2 hours and 15 minutes away traveling approximately 85 miles northeast on I-15, then an additional 60 miles on UT-20 E. 8. Visit Valley of Fire State Park Valley of Fire State Park is located about halfway between Las Vegas and St George, Utah, making it a perfect day trip destination or stop on your way to Utah from Las Vegas. After stopping at the visitor center, make sure to check out my favorite hikes and sights- Elephant Rock, Fire Wave, White Domes, and Atlatl Rock (where you’ll get up close and personal to some amazing petroglyphs!) CHECK OUT OUR RECENT BLOG POST FOR ALL THE DETAILS Entrance Fees for Valley of Fire State Park are $15 for non-residents and $10 for Nevada residents. The park also boasts 2 campgrounds (72 total sites) with tables, grills, water, and restrooms. **Please be aware, Valley of Fire State Park can get HOT in the summer. Hiking in high heat is dangerous- even on short hikes. Stay hydrated!! Distance From St George Valley of Fire State Park is located approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes southwest of St George, Utah in Moapa Valley, Nevada along I-15. 9. Visit the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City The Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City is one of the oldest and largest Shakespeare festivals in North America. The plays are only for ages 7 and up, but child care is offered for the little ones. Held in the courtyard next to the Engelstate theater this free 30-minute Greenshow is fun entertainment for the whole family. The show includes music, dance, juggling, and puppets. My kids loved the show so much, and I loved that it was free......haha!!! Along with cooler in temperature, Cedar City has a ton of family-friendly activities in town and close to town, making it the perfect summer destination. In the winter Cedar City is also a great place to visit for some family winter fun. Distance From St George At only 50 minutes north east on I-15, Cedar City is easily accessible by car. 10. Spend a Day in Duck Creek, Utah Just an hour and a half away from St George, Duck Creek is another perfect day trip. Whether you are looking to beat the summer heat, or are a  winter weather enthusiast, the village of Duck Creek has you covered. My favorite summertime hike near Duck Creek is Cascade Falls. This easy 1.2-mile out and back trail treats you to epic views and a stunning waterfall. In the winter, Duck Creek is the perfect town to soak in those snowy winter vibes with snow tubing, snowshoeing, sledding, and even snowmobile rental. Distance From St George At only 1 hour and 30 minutes northeast of St George, along I-15 and UT-14, the village of Duck Creek, Utah makes for a great day trip. 11. Family Friendly Activities and Museums in St. George When the kids tire from all the hiking (it happens to the best of us!), St George has the answer. The St George Dinosaur Discovery Site is the perfect spot to take your budding paleontologist. Add this to your list of things to do in St George, Utah if it happens to rain or the heat gets to be too much since all of the fossil exhibits are indoors. The St George Children's Museum offers hands-on exhibits for kids that mimic real-life scenarios. Kids' imaginations take over as they pretend to milk a cow, fly a plane, shop for groceries, and even battle a dragon. Watching Broadway Theatre under the Utah stars…yes, please! At the Tuacahn Amphitheatre you can enjoy Broadway shows, live concerts, and more all against the red rock backdrop that makes Southern Utah so iconic. 12. Hike in the Red Cliffs National Reserve Red Cliffs National Reserve might be my favorite hidden gem in Southern Utah. Between hiking Babylon Arch, hiking Red Reef Trail, seeing the Dinosaur Footprints, and visiting the Red Cliffs Archeological Site, you really get a LOT in one area. While it wasn’t love at first hike, Babylon Arch has become a hike that I love to take. The trail is filled with beautiful red rock formations, stunning views of the Virgin River, a fun sand hill for the kids to play on, and, as the name suggests, a super cool arch. Red Reef Trail is a hike that I take nearly everyone who visits Southern Utah on. This 3 mile hike is fun with or without kids. It boasts stunning red rock formations, arches, petroglyphs, a creek to play in, and a tree stump that looks like an elephant. From the same parking area as Red Reef Trail, you can also access a super quick hike to some real fossilized dinosaur footprints and visit an Ancestral Puebloan archaeological site. Both sites have well marked signage for curious kids (and adults) to learn about Southern Utah’s rich history. Red Cliffs National Reserve is part of the Bureau of Land Management and charges a small $5 day-use fee for access. You can also use your National Parks Pass for entrance. Distance From St George The Red Cliffs National Reserve is only 25 minutes from St George in nearby Hurricane, Utah. Pair this with a visit to Sand Hollow State Park for a fun-filled day! 13. Enjoy the Water at Sand Hollow State Park Sand Hollow State Park is located in the heart of the Hurricane Valley and is the perfect escape for those hot summer days. With the Sand Hollow Reservoir as the star, this park caters to all outdoor enthusiasts. On the south side of the lake, kids will enjoy splashing in the shallow water and building sand castles, while on the north side, the more adventurous can climb on the red rocks, swim, and even cliff jump! To keep the adrenaline flowing, you can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, ATVs, and UTVs. Distance From St George Sand Hollow State Park is located 25 minutes from St George, Utah on the southwest side of the town of Hurricane. 14. Get Off The Beaten Path in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion Kolob Canyons is tucked into the northwest corner of Zion National Park. Soaring cliffs of red Navajo Sandstone and breathtaking views are the highlight along a stunning 5-mile scenic drive. The canyons are easily accessed from Interstate 15. Kolob sits at 6,000 feet, meaning that summer temperatures are usually 10 degrees cooler than St George. Our favorite family-friendly hikes in Kolob Canyons are Taylor Creek and Timber Creek Overlook. Taylor Creek is a 5-mile round trip trail with minimal elevation gain. It also has a stream to cool off in, 2 historic cabins along the trail, and a stunning double arch alcove at the end. At the end of the scenic Kolob Canyon Road, Timbercreek Overlook Trail is one-mile round trip. This trail is short and easy with minimal elevation gain and stunning views all along the trail. Distance From St George The Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park is only 30 minutes north on I-15 from St George, Utah. 15. See a stunning waterfall at Gunlock State Park Gunlock State Park is home to one of the most amazing waterfalls in southern Utah, where water cascades down tiers of red rocks. Gunlock Falls runs in the spring, but not every year, so it draws crowds when it does. Even when the falls aren’t flowing, enjoying the water at Gunlock Reservoir is a fun way to spend a day in a southern Utah state park. Gunlock State Park is always a great destination for playing on the water in Gunlock Reservoir. You can go swimming, boating, or SUPing in the warm water, and make a day of it with a picnic on the beach. Distance from St George Gunlock State Park is around a half hour northwest of the town of St. George, UT or a little over an hour if you’re coming from Springdale. 16 - Visit Veyo Pool and Crawdad Canyon Surrounded by towering jagged basalt rock and a shady stream filled with catch and release crawdads, Veyo Pool and Crawdad Canyon is the perfect summer destination with the family. I take my kiddos here at least once a summer! There are fun surprises placed in the sides of the pool like a 2 dollar bill, a bat skeleton, a baby turtle and many more surprises covered in acrylic and hidden for little divers to find. Read more about visiting Veyo Pool & Crawdad Canyon here. Distance from St George Located 15 minutes north of St George this natural spring pool stays at a comfortable 87 degrees and is emptied and refilled every evening with fresh new water from the natural spring on the property. 17 - Take An ATV/UTV Sand Dune Tour Explore miles and miles of sand dunes, zoom down sand hills, and take in expansive and stunning views. The ultimate family adventure is an ATV ride in the soft red desert sand of Southwestern Utah. The sand dunes at Sand Hollow in Hurricane are absolutely stunning and so much fun to explore. The best way to see all that the dunes have to offer is by booking a guided tour. The guides will show you the most breathtaking sites along the best paths and are very concerned about safety. There are plenty of ATV/UTV guide companies in the Hurricane & St George area to choose from. TOQUERVILLE FALLS TOUR WITH MAD MOOSE RENTALS This past summer My 3 kiddos and I went on the ATV tour to Toquerville Falls with Blake of Mad Moose Rentals and its was the most fun and memorable adventure of our summer. We started at their location at Quail Lake (20 minutes from St George)  and drove the backroads of Southern Utah to the waterfalls. It was a stunning and action packed drive and I felt like a total badass navigating the rocky roads. It was so much fun! The drive took a little over an hour and by the time we got to the falls we were covered, head to toe in fine dust. Jumping in the cool water at the falls was the perfect way to wash off and cool down. We jumped from the top fall to the bottom, swam, splashed and played in the water for about 30 minutes and then headed back. The drive was shorter on the way back but just about as dusty. I love that their location is right next to the lake. We got out and immediately ran over and jumped in the lake to wash off the dust. My kiddos were in heaven! Make sure to reach out to Mad Moose Rentals to experience this fun waterfall ATV adventure. 18. Experience Water Fun at Quail Creek State Park Another one of the state parks close to St George with a spectacular reservoir to splash around in is Quail Creek State Park. The scenery of red rocks against the water here is beautiful, and there are activities for everyone, ranging from hiking to biking to swimming to boating. FUN ACTIVITIES The water at Quail Creek State Park is warm and great for swimming along the rocky shoreline. You can also paddleboard or kayak on the reservoir. Quail Creek also offers several trails for hikers and mountain bikers to explore more of this southern Utah state park. Quail Creek Overlook Trail is a nice moderate 5-mile out & back trail with great views. You can also go boating or fishing (or both!) on Quail Creek Reservoir. There are two boat ramps, and the lake is stocked with fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, and rainbow trout. St George Aqua Adventures offers a waterpark experience at Quail Lake. A fun and refreshing experience for visitors of all ages, this water park features trampolines, water slides, an obstacle course, and swings. In addition to the water attractions, there are also plenty of areas for sunbathing and lounging, as well as a concession stand for snacks and refreshments. Distance From St George Quail Creek State Park is located just 20 minutes east of St George off Hwy 9. 19. Visit Cathedral Gorge State Park (Nevada) At Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada, you’ll find tons of cool clay spires that are quite different from the typical red sandstone towers of the desert. The cream-colored spires in the park were formed from a volcanic eruption that took place over a million years ago. Each time it rains, the spires erode and reshape so the landscape of Cathedral Gorge will never be exactly the same. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES One of the best places to explore in Cathedral Gorge is right near the parking area. By the water tower here,  you’ll discover a maze of caves, slot canyons, and spires which are really fun for the whole family to wander around. For an actual hike that’s family-friendly, head out on Miller Point Trail, which is about 2 miles round trip. You’ll get an excellent view back down the whole canyon from Miller Point Overlook. Distance From St George Cathedral Gorge State Park is a 1 hour 40 minute drive northwest from Saint George, across the state border in Nevada. 20. Take a day trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument Cedar Breaks National Monument is a local gem in the area. The monument, sometimes called the “Circle of the Painted Cliffs,” is a naturally-formed rock coliseum with colorful arches, hoodoos, and canyons. Ancient bristlecone pine trees also dot the spectacular landscape. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES The hike to Alpine Pond showcases the varied terrain in Cedar Breaks. It’s a 2-mile loop trail which runs through forest and meadows and features lots of excellent views of the incredible rock formations. After reaching the pond, the trail passes by some ancient bristlecone pine groves on the way back. Since Cedar Breaks National Monument sits at a higher elevation than the Zion area – around 10,000 feet – it’s a great place to escape the heat in summer or find the snow in winter. You can snowshoe or cross-country ski on the trails at Cedar Breaks, or go snowmobiling on a trail that runs along Utah Highway 148. Distance From St George Cedar Breaks National Monument is located 1 hour 30 minutes north east of St George. 21. Go cliff jumping at Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Recreation Area Created by the Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell is a massive reservoir consisting of a chain of flooded canyons that is an absolute blast to explore! The recreation area straddles the state border of Utah and Arizona, and is a great day trip from St George FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES My favorite spot to play at Lake Powell is The Chains area. While lots of places on Lake Powell require a boat to explore, you don’t need one to have fun here. You can swim and splash in the water, go cliff jumping, or hike and scramble around the red rocks. If you do want to see more of Lake Powell, you can take a boat tour to explore further into the canyon. You can also rent kayaks and SUPs at many areas around the lake or paddle to Antelope Canyon and hike up the slot canyon. One of the coolest places to explore by boat or kayak is Cathedral in the Desert. This unique site was once hidden underwater but has since emerged. Distance from St George Lake Powell is located across the state border in Arizona south of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s about a 2-hour 40 minute drive west of St George. St. George has become a favored spot for families and outdoor enthusiasts, offering a myriad of day trips, beautiful hikes, and exciting activities. This charming Utah town serves as an ideal home base for those embarking on Southern Utah Adventures. I hope this post inspires you to add a stay in this beautiful Southern Utah city! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • 10 Must-See State Parks in Southern Utah (Plus a Few Other Local Gems)

    If you’re planning a visit to the incredible landscape of Southern Utah, you probably have national parks like Zion and Bryce on your must-see list…for good reason! But if those are the only places you visit, you’ll be missing out on some of the truly stunning spaces that you’ll find in the state parks in Southern Utah (and nearby Nevada). From sand dunes to sandstone spires to waterfalls, the Southern Utah state parks have so much to offer, as do the state parks just across the border in Nevada. Plus, these state parks tend to be less crowded than the more famous national parks. The 10 Best Southern Utah State Parks While a visit to Zion and Bryce Canyon might be what attracted you to southern Utah, there are so many other cool places to explore in the area! Here are my favorite southern Utah state parks, plus a few other nearby parks and recreation areas that are worth a visit: Snow Canyon State Park Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Sand Hollow State Park Kodachrome Basin State Park Gunlock State Park Quail Creek State Park Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada) Cathedral Gorge State Park (Nevada) Cedar Breaks National Monument Lake Powell/Glen Canyon National Recreation Area When planning your southern Utah itinerary, be sure to include some of these southern Utah state parks and other local gems. 1. Snow Canyon State Park Snow Canyon State Park is a fantastic place to visit because it’s close to Zion, but without the crowds. At Snow Canyon, you’ll discover incredible views featuring unique sandstone and basalt rock formations while soaking in the solitude. LOCATION Located just north of St. George, Snow Canyon State Park is about an hour drive to the west of Springdale, so it’s just a quick trip from Zion. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES You definitely have to explore the Petrified Sand Dunes when you visit Snow Canyon State Park. The short trail is just over a mile out & back, but you can choose your own adventure and just wander wherever you want around the Navajo sandstone hills. Kiddos especially love the freedom to run around here! Another must see in Snow Canyon is Jenny’s Canyon. Take a short, sandy walk through this easy slot canyon, which is fun for the whole family. And don’t miss the Lava Tube Trail which offers both panoramic desert views as well as several different caves you can go in and explore. (Be sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight to check out the caves.) Rent e-bikes at Rampage e-bikes, right outside the entrance of the park, and bike the 11.4 mile Snow Canyon Look trail. This is one of my favorite things to do with my kiddos! 2. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park The red mounds of sand at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park will draw you in, practically begging you to take off your shoes and play in the sand. Luckily, you are allowed to play here, from hiking up the hills with your toes in the sand to sledding down them on boards. Read more about sledding at Coral Pink Sand Dunes in my blog post about our family adventure trip to Kanab! CLICK FOR MORE INFO LOCATION Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is located in Kanab, UT, and is about an hour away from the west entrance of Zion in Springdale. If you’re staying in East Zion, it’s just a half hour drive. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES Sand sledding is THE thing to do at Coral Pink Sand Dunes! You can rent sleds and sand boards at the park visitor center for $25 each, then slide down the sand dunes to your heart’s content. It’s so much fun! The sand dunes are also an awesome spot for ATVing, and you can book a scenic ride with Coral Pink ATV Tours to ride around and explore. For a different perspective on the sand dunes, try a guided rappelling experience with All Ways Adventures. You’ll get a chance to hang off a cliff edge with a panoramic view of the beautiful red sand dunes around you. 3. Sand Hollow State Park For an oasis in the desert of southern Utah, head to Sand Hollow State Park where the reservoir is the main attraction. The two sides of the lake have different vibes…younger kiddos will love the soft sand and shallow water on the south side, while older kids and adults will get a thrill out of scrambling and cliff jumping on the north side. LOCATION Sand Hollow State Park is located about 45 minutes east of the Springdale entrance to Zion, southwest of the town of Hurricane, UT. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES Have a chill beach day on the south side of the lake, where the sand is perfect for sandcastle building. The water here is shallow so the kids can splash around, and there are picnic tables so you can basically set up for the whole day here. On the north side of the lake, you can scramble around on the red rocks, and it’s so fun to explore. Look for my favorite spot where the water runs over the rocks into the lake like a mini waterfall…it’s just gorgeous! The most adventurous souls in your group can chase that adrenaline rush by cliff jumping on the far northeast section of the lake. The cliffs range from shorter heights suitable for beginners to really tall ones for more advanced jumpers, so there’s something for everyone. (But, of course, gotta add the disclaimer that cliff jumping is a risky activity and may result in injury or death.) Check out my full blog post on fun in the sun at Sand Hollow State Park here! 4. Kodachrome Basin State Park Kodachrome Basin State Park is often overshadowed by all the other amazing places in southern Utah, but it’s absolutely a hidden gem of a southern Utah state park.  Kodachrome Basin is home to 67 stunning sedimentary pipes or stone spires formed from multicolored sandstone. The natural colors you’ll see in Kodachrome Basin are actually what led the area to be named after the Kodak color film in 1948. LOCATION Kodachrome Basin State Park is only half an hour east of Bryce Canyon National Park, so it’s a great addition to a trip there. It’s just over a 2 hour drive through Zion if you’re coming from Springdale. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES For a great easy hike that showcases the awesome landscape of Kodachrome Basin, take the 1.5-mile Angel’s Palace loop. This is the perfect family-friendly way to see the park. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, hit the Panorama Trail, a double loop of almost 6 miles which takes you to the scenic Panorama Point and several of the park’s signature sandstone spires. And for those that prefer pedal power,  three of the trails in Kodachrome Basin - Panorama Trail, Big Bear Geyser Trail, and Grand Parade Loop - are open to mountain biking. 5. Gunlock State Park Gunlock State Park is home to one of the most amazing waterfalls in southern Utah, where water cascades down tiers of red rocks. Gunlock Falls runs in the spring, but not every year, so it draws crowds when it does. Even when the falls aren’t flowing, enjoying the water at Gunlock Reservoir is a fun way to spend a day in a southern Utah state park. LOCATION Gunlock State Park is around a half hour northwest of the town of St. George, UT or a little over an hour if you’re coming from Springdale. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES Gunlock Falls is the main attraction here when it’s running, which only happens in the spring after a heavy snowfall. The falls are absolutely stunning and worth a visit if you’re lucky enough to catch them running. Gunlock State Park is always a great destination for playing on the water in Gunlock Reservoir. You can go swimming, boating, or SUPing in the warm water, and make a day of it with a picnic on the beach. Anglers also will appreciate the chance to fish in Gunlock Reservoir, where you might catch  largemouth bass, crappie bluegill, rainbow trout, or channel catfish. 6. Quail Creek State Park Another one of the state parks in southern Utah with a spectacular reservoir to splash around in is Quail Creek State Park. The scenery of red rocks against the water here is beautiful, and there are activities for everyone, ranging from hiking to biking to swimming to boating. LOCATION Quail Creek State Park is located just east of Hurricane, UT, about 45 minutes away from the Springdale entrance of Zion. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES The water at Quail Creek State Park is warm and great for swimming along the rocky shoreline. You can also paddleboard or kayak on the reservoir. Quail Creek also offers several trails for hikers and mountain bikers to explore more of this southern Utah state park. Quail Creek Overlook Trail is a nice moderate 5-mile out & back trail with great views. You can also go boating or fishing (or both!) on Quail Creek Reservoir. There are two boat ramps, and the lake is stocked with fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, and rainbow trout. 7. Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada) The desert southwest is full of stunning landscapes, but Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada still manages to stand out with its red sandstone formations which contrast with lighter colored rocks. Throughout the park, you’ll also spot petrified trees and petroglyphs. LOCATION Valley of Fire State Park is across the state border in Nevada, so it’s a perfect pit stop if you’re traveling to Zion from Las Vegas. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Springdale. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES Don’t miss the Fire Wave, a unique formation of red and white striped rock that will take your breath away. The trail is just over a mile round trip, but be aware that it’s closed in summer due to extreme heat. You also should hike to the White Domes, cool-looking formations which stand out from the orange and red sandstone that dominates the landscape. The mile-long loop trail also goes through some slot canyons and caves. Be sure to check out Atlatl Rock as well, which features petroglyphs carved into the sandstone by ancient Puebloans. 8. Cathedral Gorge State Park (Nevada) At Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada, you’ll find tons of cool clay spires that are quite different from the typical red sandstone towers of the desert. The cream-colored spires in the park were formed from a volcanic eruption that took place over a million years ago. Each time it rains, the spires erode and reshape so the landscape of Cathedral Gorge will never be exactly the same. LOCATION Cathedral Gorge State Park is just over a 2-hour drive northwest from Springdale, across the state border in Nevada. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES One of the best places to explore in Cathedral Gorge is right near the parking area. By the water tower here,  you’ll discover a maze of caves, slot canyons, and spires which are really fun for the whole family to wander around. For an actual hike that’s family-friendly, head out on Miller Point Trail, which is about 2 miles round trip. You’ll get an excellent view back down the whole canyon from Miller Point Overlook. 9. Cedar Breaks National Monument While it’s not technically a southern Utah state park, Cedar Breaks National Monument is a local gem in the area. The monument, sometimes called the “Circle of the Painted Cliffs,” is a naturally-formed rock coliseum with colorful arches, hoodoos, and canyons. Ancient bristlecone pine trees also dot the spectacular landscape. LOCATION Cedar Breaks National Monument is located near the town of Brian Head, UT, which is about a 1.5 hour drive north of Springdale. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES The hike to Alpine Pond showcases the varied terrain in Cedar Breaks. It’s a 2-mile loop trail which runs through forest and meadows and features lots of excellent views of the incredible rock formations. After reaching the pond, the trail passes by some ancient bristlecone pine groves on the way back. Since Cedar Breaks National Monument sits at a higher elevation than the Zion area – around 10,000 feet – it’s a great place to escape the heat in summer or find the snow in winter. You can snowshoe or cross-country ski on the trails at Cedar Breaks, or go snowmobiling on a trail that runs along Utah Highway 148. 10. Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Recreation Area Created by the Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell is a massive reservoir consisting of a chain of flooded canyons that is an absolute blast to explore! The recreation area straddles the state border of Utah and Arizona, and although it’s not actually a southern Utah state park, it’s a must-visit in the area. LOCATION Lake Powell is located across the state border in Arizona south of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It’s about a 2-hour drive west of Zion National Park. FUN HIKES & ACTIVITIES My favorite spot to play at Lake Powell is The Chains area. While lots of places on Lake Powell require a boat to explore, you don’t need one to have fun here. You can swim and splash in the water, go cliff jumping, or hike and scramble around the red rocks. If you do want to see more of Lake Powell, you can take a boat tour to explore further into the canyon. You can also rent kayaks and SUPs at many areas around the lake. One of the coolest places to explore by boat or kayak is Cathedral in the Desert. This unique site was once hidden underwater but has since emerged. I hope this post inspires you to add at least one of these awesome state parks in Southern Utah to your itinerary when you’re visiting the Zion area! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Timber and Tin Kanab – A Fantastic Family Getaway

    Dreaming of the perfect family getaway in the southern Utah desert? Someplace where the kids can play, you can relax, and the whole family can adventure in awesome places and make magical memories? Well, stop dreaming and head to Timber and Tin Kanab! We spent 5 days at Timber and Tin Kanab in July and loved every single minute of our stay! Staying at Timber and Tin feels like staying at an Airbnb in a small house with a kitchen, laundry, and all the conveniences, but you also get the perks of a resort. It is truly the perfect getaway with kids. Staying at Timber and Tin Kanab LOCATION Timber and Tin is located on Main Street in downtown Kanab, Utah. I really love that Timber and Tin is right in town because it makes it so easy for the kids to walk to the shops and do things on their own. CLICK FOR MORE INFO Kanab is also a really convenient location to explore the best of southern Utah. Kanab is only an hour from Zion National Park and is close to so many other amazing places like Bryce Canyon and The Wave hike. PROPERTY Timber and Tin Kanab offers lots of amenities right on the property, including a pool, hot tub, and a pavilion and picnic area. The swimming pool is so much fun to splash around in, and since this is a smaller resort, you aren’t sharing the pool with a ton of guests. It was never very busy during our stay. There is also a restored barn you can hang out in, which features a theater room with old movies, tons of games, and a ping pong table. It’s a lot of fun to spend time playing in there! ACCOMODATIONS At Timber and Tin Kanab, you’ll stay in one of seven small homes on the property, so you have your own space along with access to all the resort amenities. Most of the modern homes are 2 bed/2 bath, giving you room for the whole family. Each home is unique, so you can pick the style that speaks to you. They all have private rooftop decks though, which are perfect for soaking in the sunset and stargazing. Things to Do in Kanab with Kids Timber and Tin Kanab makes an amazing basecamp for a family getaway in southern Utah! Here are some of my favorite activities in and around town…and check out this blog post for even more reasons to visit Kanab with kids. Jackson Flat Reservoir Jackson Flat is a super fun spot just a 5 minute drive from Timber and Tin Kanab. During our visit, we spent so much time here enjoying this beautiful lake by kayaking, playing in the sand, and riding bikes around the lake. Local tip: If you don’t have your own, you can rent kayaks, paddle boards and e-bikes from ROAM, which has a little stand at the lake. Kanab City Swimming Pool While Timber & Tin has its own pool, if the kiddos need a change of scenery, the Kanab City Pool is a fun and inexpensive way to keep them entertained for a few hours. The big slide is the main attraction here! The city pool is just a mile from Timber & Tin, and a day pass is only $6/each for non-residents. Moqui Caverns I have visited Moqui Caverns many times, but I’m still always blown away by the beauty of these caves (also known as the Kanab Sand Caves). The kiddos might need a bit of help on the short scramble up a rock wall to the caves, but will have an absolute blast exploring them. Belly of the Dragon Not far from Moqui Caverns is another cool formation…the Belly of the Dragon! This man-made tunnel features rippling sandstone walls that have been shaped over the years by water runoff from the upper canyon. Local tip: Bring a headlamp (or use your phone’s flashlight) to illuminate the tunnel which can get quite dark inside. Squaw Trail This short trail (3 miles round-trip) is located right in town and is perfect for a morning or evening hike with the kiddos. With a little bit of steep uphill hiking, you get to experience gorgeous views of Kanab from above. Kanab Drug While you might not think of a drugstore as a fun attraction, Kanab Drug has the cutest gifts, and my kids wanted to go here every day on our trip! This little drugstore is right in town, and also has a soda shop inside with ice cream and sandwiches. Trust me, they make the most amazing ice cream treats…yum! Best Friends Animal Sanctuary If your family is full of animal lovers, you absolutely have to visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab. Best Friends is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the US, and it provides a caring home for over a thousand dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, horses, pigs and other animals. You can book a tour of Best Friends to see the property and meet some of the animals! Read more about our wonderful visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary here! Brown Box Kanab We love Brown Box Kanab so much! This super cute bakeshop has the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and is a great place to grab an ice cream when you need a sweet treat. Brown Box Kanab also features a little gift shop, along with couches to relax and a swing outside. The Chains at Lake Powell My favorite part of Lake Powell is only about an hour away from Kanab, near Page, AZ. The Chains section of Lake Powell is awesome because you don’t need a boat to explore it, like a lot of the rest of the lake. Here you can swim, cliff jump, and scramble around the red rocks…my kids had the best time and want to go back! Wire Pass Trail Wire Pass Trail takes you through a super cool slot canyon that makes for an awesome adventure that is totally doable for kids. The trailhead is about an hour east of Kanab and is totally worth the drive down a bumpy dirt road. Local tip: Permits are required for day-use in this area. They are $6/per person (and per dog) and can be reserved at recreation.gov. Find more details about hiking the Wire Pass Trail in my blog post here! Red Canyon You’ll find Red Canyon in Orderville, UT just under half an hour north of Kanab. This very short hike to a slot canyon is a nice little excursion for the whole family. You can also book a horseback riding tour of Red Canyon with East Zion Adventures for a unique experience. The Nautilus The Nautilus is a hidden gem of a hike through a white rock formation that spirals around you like a mollusk. After a short hike through the sand, you enter The Nautilus by literally sliding down the rock 10-12 feet. My kids loved that part, and immediately climbed back up to slide down again! Get all the info on this trail in my guide to The Nautilus hike here! Water Canyon Water Canyon is a lovely day hike with a little bit of everything from rock scrambling, sandstone cliffs, a shallow year-round creek, a waterfall canyon oasis, and valley views. The hike is about 4.25 miles round trip, and I’ve done it with kids several times…they just might need a little encouragement and extra snacks, haha. Water Canyon is located about an hour west of Kanab near Hildale, UT. Horseshoe Bend If Horseshoe Bend is on your bucket list, you can check it off with a visit while you’re staying in Kanab, since it’s only an hour drive away. The iconic overlook is in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Page, AZ, and the view is even more stunning in person than in pictures. Local tip: Parking at the trailhead is $10/vehicle, and the parking lot will be closed when it fills up during busy times. Hope this helped you get excited for a dream desert vacation at Timber and Tin Kanab! And don’t forget to check out this post for even more things to do in Kanab with kids! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

  • Why You Should Visit the Grand Canyon North Rim

    Do you dream of visiting the Grand Canyon? Well, you absolutely should! The striated sandstone walls rising above the Colorado River completely live up to the hype and are incredibly breathtaking in person. When most people think of the Grand Canyon, they think of the iconic views from the South Rim. And don’t get me wrong, the South Rim is amazing! But the Grand Canyon North Rim is worth visiting for a different perspective on this spectacular canyon and you can't beat the convenience when visiting southern Utah. Reasons to Check Out the Grand Canyon North Rim The Grand Canyon North Rim is a special place that I really love! While most visitors to the Grand Canyon congregate on the South Rim, the North Rim is far less crowded but still offers so much stunning scenery to explore. I try to make a quick trip to the North Rim at least once a summer. Here are just a few of my favorite reasons to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim: If you’re staying near Zion in southern Utah, the North Rim is a significantly shorter drive than the South Rim. Plus, it is at higher altitude, so it’s a great escape when you’re in search of some cooler temps. On the way to the North Rim, you’ll pass Jacob Lake Inn, which is a MUST stop for the world’s best cookies…seriously! If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of wild bison in the big meadow just outside the North Rim park entrance. It’s totally worth it to wake up early and hike to Bright Angel Point for a truly spectacular sunrise. For an equally awesome sunset, take a drive down Cape Royal Road. Walking into the Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim will take your breath away when you see the incredible views out the huge windows. And you can’t take a trip to the North Rim without sitting on the patio next to the lodge and watching the sunset over the canyon…ideally while sipping a margarita from the Rough Rider Saloon. Grand Canyon North Rim Season Be aware that the Grand Canyon North Rim is not open year-round. Because it sits at higher elevation (around 8,000 feet), winter hits the North Rim hard, and it is only open from May 15th to November 30th. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO The campground and lodge are closed in November, and the North Rim is only open for day use, so the best time to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim is from mid-May through October. One-Day Grand Canyon North Rim Itinerary I’ve been to the North Rim several times and always love going back for a quick visit. This one-day itinerary hits all the must-dos at the North Rim and is great for anyone, including the kiddos. Drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from Southern Utah When you’re exploring southern Utah, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is most easily accessed from the east side of Zion. It’s just over a 2-hour drive from East Zion Resort or just under 2 hours from Kanab. If you’re coming from the west side of Zion, the North Rim is approximately 2.5 hours from Hurricane. Pit Stop: Breakfast at Jacob Lake Inn On your way to the North Rim, you’ll pass Jacob Lake Inn in the middle of nowhere about an hour outside the park. It’s the perfect place to stop for a hearty diner-style  breakfast to fuel up for a day of exploring. And don’t forget to grab some cookies to take with you for snacks later – trust me, these cookies are SO good, you might have to stop for more on your way home. Morning: Cape Royal Of course, you have to start your day at the Grand Canyon North Rim with a spectacular view, and you can find it at Cape Royal. From the parking lot, a short paved trail leads to some of the best viewpoints on the North Rim. Be sure to walk around to check out the different outlooks, including Angel’s Window, where you can see all the way down to the Colorado River. I recommend packing a picnic lunch to have at Cape Royal, so you can spend extra time here. There is a perfect little picnic area right near the parking lot. Afternoon: Grand Canyon Lodge Spend the afternoon at the Grand Canyon Lodge, where you can stay inside and take in the impressive views through the giant windows or head out to the patio for even more incredible vistas. The saloon serves coffee if you need a little caffeine pick me up Evening: Sunset at Bright Angel Point While you can watch sunset from the lodge, I highly recommend taking a short hike from the lodge out to Bright Angel Point for a view that will really take your breath away. The paved trail to Bright Angel Point starts from the lodge, and it’s only about a ¼ mile walk to the viewpoint. Watching the sky catch fire and change color over the incredible landscape of the Grand Canyon is definitely a bucket list experience. (Be sure to bring your camera to capture it as best you can!) Dinner: Roughrider Saloon As the last rays of sun dip behind the canyon walls, head back to the lodge for dinner at the Roughrider Saloon. Even when it’s too dark to see the canyon, you can enjoy your meal (and a margarita!) next to the cozy fireplace on the veranda. One-Night North Rim Camping Itinerary If you’re looking to spend the night at the North Rim, I highly recommend sleeping under the stars at the North Rim campground. I’ve stayed there a few times, and it’s a lovely spot. At the entrance to the campground, the North Rim General Store is filled with souvenirs, coffee, and great snacks…my kids and I really love it. The campground area is also a fun place to ride around on e-bikes and scooters, but you need to bring your own, since they don’t rent them there. Camping at the Grand Canyon North Rim Details The North Rim campground is open from May 15 - Oct 15, and you must reserve your site through recreation.gov. All sites are reservation-only, so you can’t walk up and get a site. Reservations open 6 months in advance (so for example, on January 20, 2024 at 8:00am MT, availability will be released through July 20, 2024.) The fee for tent sites or non-electric RV sites  is $18/night. Check in is at 12:00pm MT and check out is at 11:00am MT. You can stay up to 7 consecutive nights at the campground. If you just want a quick trip to hit all the North Rim highlights, here is my recommended itinerary for spending one night camping at the North Rim.. Early Afternoon: Take Transept Trail to the Lodge After checking in and setting up your tents, stretch your legs with a hike on Transept Trail which connects the campground to the lodge. When I stayed a night at the North Rim campground with my family this past summer, we hiked the Transept Trail, and I loved it…while my kiddos complained the whole way, haha! Transept Trail Details Distance: 2 miles one way Elevation Gain: ~340 feet The trail goes along the rim of a side canyon called the Transept through a beautiful forested area with a few nice views out into the Grand Canyon. It’s mostly an easy hike, but there are some steep and rocky sections. The trail is the perfect way to explore this part of the North Rim while also making your way to the Grand Canyon Lodge. Late Afternoon: Hike Bright Angel Point Trail Make sure to spend some time at the lodge enjoying the views out the huge windows or from the patio, and grab a snack or lunch at the Roughrider Saloon. Then take a hike to Bright Angel Point to see some of the very best views from the North Rim. If you want to have dinner back at camp, give yourself enough time to hike the Transept Trail back to the campground well before sunset, because you definitely don’t want to miss that! Evening: Drive to Cape Royal for Sunset After an early dinner back at camp, drive down Cape Royal road to the viewpoint to catch what is sure to be one of the most incredible sunsets you’ve ever seen! The wide open vista of the Grand Canyon lit with the red and gold of the fading sunlight is truly something special. Morning: Hike Cape Final Trail Enjoy a leisurely morning at camp (unless you want to get up early and head to one of the viewpoints for sunrise), then break down and pack up your tents to check out before 11am. But don’t pack your hiking shoes, since there’s one more trail to check out before you leave the North Rim. Cape Final Trail Details Distance: 4 miles round trip Elevation Gain: ~495 feet The Cape Final Trail is located along Cape Royal Road, and the parking area is a couple miles north of the Cape Royal parking lot. This is an easy hike, so it’s great for families. From the trailhead, you’ll hike through a forest for a while, until it eventually opens up. At the end of the Cape Final Trail, you’ll be rewarded with some seriously stunning views to cap off your visit to the North Rim. I hope this inspires you to add a trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to your itinerary during your next visit to southern Utah! And be sure to check out my post on more awesome day trips from Zion here! Happy Adventuring, Arika Check out more about me and book a shoot here CLICK HERE FOR RELATED BLOG POSTS

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