Are you thinking about bringing your family with children to Snow Canyon State Park? Will your kids enjoy it? We brought our two daughters 8 and 10 years recently. My kids loved it, but as with most State Parks or National Parks, there are multiple stops, and multiple things to do, so my goal here is to point out to you the best activities for families with children!
There are two entrances to get into the park, one on the north end and another on the south end. We entered on the north end because it was the easiest access from our hotel, so I will go in that order.
Petrified Sand Dunes
Our first stop was at the Petrified Sand Dunes. This area has large piles of sand that have hardened over the years. How many years? Try 200 million years! You can see the designs that the sand has made and it is probably familiar to you if you have visited any beaches in your life and have seen the design the wind can create with the sand. In the photos below you can see these same designs on this 200 million year old sand.
This is a great short hike for the kids because there’s lots of easy climbing involved and you can get up pretty high where you can experience some great views.
Lava Tube Trail
At the same stop as the Petrified Sand Dunes, you can access the Lava Tube Trail. You take the trail west for a bit, then the trail turns north for some time, then back west again. After a bit of hiking you will come to a T intersection where you can turn left or right. If you have children with you on the hike, you go right, if there are only adults in your party, you can go left. The hike to the left is not very kid friendly according to the park ranger. So since we had children with us, we of course turned right.
After turning right you will arrive at the lava tube almost immediately. When we arrived, we found a way to climb down into the lava tube and make our way into the dark cave. It was really cool and really creepy at the same time. The climb down into the cave is fairly easy, but you may want to help any small children you have to get down. It gets really dark in the cave, so make sure you bring a flashlight with you.
Sand Dunes Trail
This was our last stop on the trip and this is also the most kid-friendly stop in the whole park. The Sand Dunes trail is really short to hike, or if you don’t want to hike at all you can drive just a little bit further south and park right at the sand dunes. We chose to hike a little bit. Once we arrived at the actual sand dunes, we removed our shoes and felt the warm soft sand on our feet. This is the closest you can get to beach sand in the state of Utah as far as we know. If you know of better sand, perhaps with WATER? Please comment below.
The sand dunes cover a large enough area that you can have fun for about an hour. As an adult I enjoyed walking around the sand and feeling it massage my feet in a way. Our children Ariana and Bella enjoyed digging in the sand and building things, if only we’d brought our sand castle toys! Your children may also enjoy jumping down the small sand hills and landing in the soft sand.
BONUS: One bonus at the sand dunes is that it’s in an echo canyon. If you yell something, you will hear it repeat a couple of seconds later as if someone is yelling back at you from the top of one of the mountains.
There are plenty of hotels and motels in the nearby city of Saint George.
We stayed in the Red Lion Hotel, it’s good for the price, we booked it at less than $100 per night on Priceline. One of its highlights is the swimming pool that’s half indoor and half outdoor. The other highlight it the free breakfast in the morning. The rooms are probably the low point as they are really outdated. Part of the hotel is a motel, where you access your room from outside, the other part is the traditional hotel where you access your room from an inside hallway. Keep this in mind if you dislike motels. You may want to show up early to get your first pick.
A trip to Snow Canyon State Park is worth it. If you live in Las Vegas, you can easily do this trip in a day and return home in the evening as you are only 2 hours away. If you live in Salt Lake City, the drive is 4 hours, so you may be able to hit up some of the highlights of the park in one day, but be prepared for 8 hours of round-trip driving in one day.