Last summer, my family and I did a big family vacation with my husband’s parents and all his siblings and their kids to St. George, Utah. With kids ranging in age from 17 to 2, finding an activity that everyone would enjoy was a bit of a challenge, but ultimately we decided on hiking. St. George and the surrounding area is famous for its beautiful and unique red rock formations. I’ve visited St. George more times than I can count, but hadn’t spent much time hiking the trails found all around the city. However, we did find an awesome little place called Pioneer Park. We had so much fun that we visited two days in a row and it was a real hit with everyone in the family.
Pioneer Park is located next to the Red Hills Desert Garden (also a great place for kids to get out and stretch their legs). There are a bunch of smaller trails you can take and most are easy enough for smaller children to navigate by themselves or with some help. (Mine were 2 and 4 at the time of our visit.) The park isn’t too far off the freeway so its easy access makes it a great place to visit whether you are going to St. George to vacation or simply passing through and need to let the kids run around outside and get their wiggles out.
The portion of the park that we explored most with our kids is also referred to as a “mini narrows”, or small slot canyon, similar to those found in areas of Southern Utah. A slot canyon is basically a crack in the canyon wall that is extremely narrow. The entrance to this slot canyon in Pioneer Park is located near a parking lot and looks like a wide canyon with tall, sloping walls on either side. There are nooks and crannies for the kids to climb into and take pictures. If you walk farther in, you’ll be able to climb up some rocks to the beginning of the most narrow part of the hike.
We had to help our kids as we climbed up this portion of the trail because they weren’t tall enough. Either my husband or I went up first and then the other helped one kid up and then the other joined us. I wouldn’t say it was dangerous, but red rock can be slippery so be sure to wear proper shoes (aka tennis shoes or hiking shoes).
Depending on your size, this may be as far as you go. Some parts of the slot canyon are only 6 inches wide, so if you are claustrophobic, this probably isn’t for you either. My daughter and I were able to make it through all the way to the top. Once you make it to the top, you can climb back down on either side of the canyon to the base. We hiked down both ways and found that the left trail took a bit longer, but was easier to hike for everyone, while the right trail was steeper and required a little more climbing and may not be suitable for younger kids.
All in all, I highly recommend Pioneer Park for people of all ages! There is actually more to explore in the park than the “mini narrows”, such as some old buildings and other trails, but our kids had so much fun here that we didn’t venture around much. I really like that this park is near the Red Hills Desert Garden because they have drinking fountains and nice, clean bathrooms to use.
And if hiking with your kids seems a little intimidating, or you’re just not sure where to start, you can check out this post I shared about 7 tips for hiking with kids! (Plus, check out the giveaway from Nuby on this post running from today (6/8) to next Wednesday (6/15) at 11:59pm.)
Where are your favorite places to hike with your family?