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3 Days In Southern Utah: A Perfect Family Winter Retreat Itinerary

Growing up in Hurricane Utah, just 20 minutes from Saint George, I have fond memories of jumping out of bed, running barefoot to the window and peeking out in wonder at the blanket of snow covering my backyard, but that was a very rare occurrence. The majority of my winter days were spent running around outside rarely ever needing a coat. It wasn't until I moved to Logan Utah for school and later Salt Lake City for 10 years that I came to understand what winter was all about. I must confess that even though I do love the snow my love for snow is tainted a bit by the fact that I do not like the cold. I am a Southern Utah native after all.

This article was first seen in Discover Utah Kids Magazine. Check it out Here!

Durning my winters living in northern Utah I would find respite from the cold by making regular trips back to my hometown in Southern Utah. Known for its mild winter temps and an unlimited supply of hiking and outdoor activities, Southern Utah is one of the best places out there to ditch the puffy coat and replace it with hiking boots and a backpack.

I moved back to Southern Utah with my husband and 3 kiddos a little over three years ago and believe me when I say we take full advantage of the Southern Utah winters. Summers are hot and crowded with tourists so when winter rolls around with cooler temps and the tourists find their way back home we go out and play.

I have put together a three-day itinerary perfect for any family itching to escape the cold with swirling red rock and desert adventures.

Day one

Start your day by fueling your adventure with a Haven Waffle or BO-rrito at the Xetava Garden Cafe in Ivins, just 15 minutes northwest of Saint George. After breakfast drive 6 miles to Snow Canyon State Park. This stunning park is scattered with volcanic cones, sand dunes, lava flows, and soaring red sandstone cliffs.

Just 1/4 past the south entrance you will come to Jenny's Canyon trail to your right. This .3 mile round trip trail will take you to a towering slot canyon on your left and an overlook to your right. The slot canyon is ideal for exploring and kids can even do a bit of rock climbing on the canyon walls.

After your short hike head up the road a short distance to the Sand Dunes. This giant-sized sandbox is the perfect place to let the kids run, play and dig to their heart's content. Once the kids have had enough fun playing in the sand drive north to the Petrified Dunes.

The parking lot will be to your left and a short trail will take you to incredible rolling mounds of petrified Navajo Sandstone. At the heart of Snow Canyon, the views from the top of the once-flowing mountains of sand are some of the most breathtaking in the park. Don't worry about following a trail, just climb, explore and enjoy the beauty until everyone is ready to head back to the car.

Later in the afternoon head over to Yant Flat. An easy 1.5-mile round trip hike through the woods will take you to 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.


Day two