Our Favorite Hikes, Restaurants and Sights in St. George

My parents bought a home in St. George, Utah a few years ago. I must admit, I wondered why. I had always seen St. George as a sleepy retirement community or a place for silly high schoolers to cruise the Boulevard, but one spring break week with my husband, 4 boys and my extended family (and many weeks since) and I am completely sold. It just may be one of our favorite vacation spots ever. So, I wanted to share with you what we like best.

My parents' home is near Snow Canyon, which is a bit out of town, so we usually arrive, go shopping at Costco and spend our mornings hiking, our afternoons swimming, and eat in. There really is nothing better. I am positive that hiking is the best free family activity out there. Everyone can do it (even our 2 year old!), everyone enjoys it, it keeps us active, and allows us to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature. Here are a few you must try:

SNOW CANYON HIKES (Park entrance fee $6)

Butterfly Trial: This one is our very favorite, so if you only have time to do one, choose this. It is daring enough to keep the boys interested and moving (the beginning is a little slick and steep) but it is not scary. The last half is fairly flat and allows time to enjoy the views of the red and white rocks on all sides. When the butterfly trail ends, you can turn to your left and hike up a HUGE rock formation. The hike is a little difficult but doable if you are willing to push. The view from the top is unbeatable and a few guys were throwing a frisbee from the top to the bottom which made for some good entertainment. We loved the climb! If you go to your right, you can hike the Lava Tubes.

Lava Tubes: These are also a must. My boys were in love with exploring the deep caves. The average family can climb down for a minute and poke around, but if you are really daring and have head lamps, you can wind through the lava tubes. This is not for the leisurely hiker or for little ones. If you plan on hiking the lava tubes, wear sturdy shoes and pants and preferably a long sleeve shirt since it's easy to get scraped up. You will also have the chance to climb through small spaces, so if you are claustrophobic, don't push it.

Marble Mountain: This hike starts in Snow Canyon at the "Upper Galut" trail head. It looks like a nice picnic area, but if you keep walking up the mountain, you can find tons of naturally formed marbles out of the red rock. It is pretty amazing! My kids loved collecting them and seeing how they were formed. As a family we enjoyed hiking up the large rocks to the very top. At times it was steep and for a moment we needed to be on all fours but it wasn't hard. It also wasn't crowded at all...a nice bonus!

White Rocks Trail: A little longer hike that allows hikers to also explore the white rock amphitheater. This hike gives views of the white rocks and lava flows with plenty to keep everyone moving and interested.

Sand Dunes: If you have time to stick around and play or if you have little ones that don't plan on hiking, you can spend hours and hours playing in the warm, soft, red sand. Bring some toys for digging, sunscreen, and some snacks and it is an awesome way to spend the afternoon. One warning, just recently there was a death from someone stepping into a sink hole here. It almost never happens, but be sure to stay together.


Gunlock Reservoir: We would love to do this hike when the water is flowing during the spring and there are waterfalls. We have heard amazing things about it at that time of year, but we have never seen it ( from our research, it rarely happens, but if it does you will need your swimsuit). We still enjoyed our hike though...the boys loved blazing their own trail and really exploring. Best for older kids who don't need a trail and who like a little adventure, but our little ones were fine too.

Chuckwalla Trail: This is one of the easiest hikes (walks) in St. George but it is beautiful and my boys love it. It's about 1 mile, but you can turn back whenever you are tired. The path is easy to follow and we even found a tortoise the last time we were there! A perfect beginners hike!

The Glass Mine: This is located just south of St. George and is an abandoned Gypsum mine. Our friends went and said it was so cool! They came out with plenty of pieces of their own gypsum. We can't wait to give it a try next time. It is hard to find, but the directions here can get you there!

Photo via HERE

Photo via HERE
Dixie Rock: There are tons of tunnels and trails at Dixie Rock that can make for a great morning of exploring.

image via HERE
Padre Canyon Trail: This trail starts in Tuachan and ends in Snow Canyon if you go all the way through. A little adventurous but doable.
Trail Passing in Between Large Rocks
image via HERE

Santa Clara Petroglyphs: I cannot even imagine how excited my boys would be to actually discover real petroglyphs! We will definitely be taking this hike on our next trip.

Santa Clara Pictographs
image via HERE
Red Reef Trail: This hike is fun and scenic and takes you to a natural pool. Park at the Red Cliff's Campground and take it from there.
image via http://dostgeorge.com/OLD_SITE_MAY_13_11/recreation-areas.html


As I said above, we spent most of our time grilling our own food, but we have lots of friends who take the opportunity to eat out in St. George and love it. Here are some of their suggestions for a hungry tummy. We are looking forward to eating our way through St. George on future trips.

Breakfast at Tifiny's $
Kneader's $
Cafe Rio $
Five Guys $
Mad Pita (owners are from Michigan woot! woot!) $
25 and Main $
Anasazi $$$
Capaletti $$
Benja's Thai and Sushi $$
Don Pedro's $
The Egg and I $$
Black Bear Diner $$
Habit Burger $
Piccolo Mondo $$
Irmita's $
Wagon Wheel $
Pizza Factory $
Veyo Pies $ (food too!)
Croshaw Pies $ (food too!)
Nielsen Frozen Custard $
The Sugar Cookie $
Swig $
Fractured Prune Doughnuts $


Church History: There is lots of Mormon Church History to visit here! It is always fascinating to learn about the early settlers in an area. We stopped at the Brigham Young summer home, the Jacob Hamblin House, the St. George Temple, and the St. George Tabernacle. They have tours going on, but if you have a large group, you can schedule your own.

trying fresh grapes at the Brigham Young Summer Home

Tuachan: If you are around May-October, Tuachan is AMAZING...something you will not want to miss. This season they will be putting on The Little Mermaid, The Wizard of Oz, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat. The quality is really impressive and it keeps young and old completely entranced.

image via HERE
Parks: St. George has a million parks and splash pads to choose from. A few highlights are Cottonwood Cove Park and the Hidden Valley Splash Pad.

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