“Show them what you’re made of Mum”
We were in St. George Utah and Kalyra screamed at me from the back of our ATV as I screamed.
I think an oh shit even slipped out of my mouth as I pressed my foot down on the accelerator and roared up the sand dune.
Breathing was tight, possibly even held, as that old familiar fear from my youth arrived. It would take my breath and freeze me in the back seat of our car as my nervous mother attempted to drive up the vertical notorious Rampart.
As a child it felt so high and steep and I was convinced each time it wouldn’t be able to grip tight to the road and gravity would roll us back down.
Heading up that mountain to my friend’s birthday parties was literally the scariest thing of my childhood.
Now that feeling was overtaking me as I was the one attempting to get up the high and steep hill, except this one was made of sand and we were in a small ATV (all-terrain vehicle) with no sides.
Breathe and focus was my mantra as I wrestled control back from the demons to get up.
With two quad bikes behind me I had no other option.
I certainly couldn’t stop else we probably would roll back down. So it was foot down, squeals at the ready and push that thing up with will power – well maybe a little gasoline too.
Yes! Show em what you’re made of! I squealed rising up to the top “Nailed it!!”
There was no time to stop and revel in the glory.
We finished with one last drive up a hill – this time it was extra sandy –like full sand dunes without a whisper of dune grass to be seen and the wind shaping it as we approached.
It was short and steep with little run up for momentum.
These dunes had scared Kalyra for the past 30-minutes so she wasn’t screaming her confident motivational speech at me rather, “I don’t want to do this mum!’
Co-pilot Savannah, was comforting Kalyra and telling her it would all be okay, complete faith laid in her mum to get us up. Her other cries throughout the drive were to go faster.
“There’s no turning back now”.
I pressed my foot down, watching the ATV in front of me almost stall at the lip and slide out before just making it over the top.
This time I kept the Oh shit to an inside scream and the panicked cry, I really don’t think I can do this one.
Breathe and focus.
Up we went following the ATV’s path of slip and slide and slow down. Oh no. We’re not going to make it.
Fear of stalling at the top and rolling back hit me just as the nose of the ATV pushed us up and over and we came to a grinding halt behind everyone.
This is our last stop. Let’s enjoy the sunset before heading back.
I handed the driving seat back to Craig and rolled out into the sand to watch the setting sun.
Like this area needed any more color or things that make you go, Wow! This adventure made our list of places to see in Utah that no one tells you about.
Sand Hollow State Park
You will not believe the colors of this State Park in Utah are real.
The clear blue of the man made lake surrounded by orange sand dunes, red rock formations and the snow peaked mountains in the background.
It is a feast for the eyes for sure and loads of good soul food for your chakras.
Sand Hollow State Park is just outside St George in Southern Utah and is the perfect recreational area for ATV adventures as it offers some of the best Utah ATV trails around.
It’s Utah’s newest state park and already one of the most visited destinations in the Utah State Park system, with recreation opportunities for nearly every user from boaters to bikers, and OHV riders to equestrians.
What a place to cool down after a day of traversing the dunes on an ATV.
This 20,000 acre state park is well renowned for its ATV and OHV off-road trails that take you to 3,500ft in elevation.
It has 6,000 acres of off-road trails over sand dunes that are host to many rallies and competitions each year.
The trails cater to open riding as well as technical trails where you can test your skills off trail and you’ll see plenty of dune buggies zipping around.
The sand areas are divided by incredible rock formations in the upper areas and bounded by the blue man-made lake at the lower edges.
You could play in here all day and we enjoyed watching some motorbikes doing aerials off the dunes.[ybox: We started this day with an awesome Utah hike with kids on the Red Reef Trail! What a way to follow up with that. [/ybox]
The ATV & Jeep Sunset Tour
Looking for adventure travel and fun things to do in Utah with kids?
We were hosted by the company on their 4 hour sunset tour which took us on a trail that had the perfect combination of red-rock formations, dunes and open desert.
The tour started by getting suited up in our helmets and protective gear and a safety run through by Bob our guide. We then had a practice drive around the dunes and over a small rock face.
Bob gave us the nod and we were off.
Sand Trails with a View
The first part of the tour was spent whizzing around the easy sand trail area with the views of the lake and the snow peaked mountains the entire way.
It couldn’t help but enhance your joy.
We stopped to admire the views and learn more about the park’s flora and fauna.
The good thing with the ATV Jeep and Adventure tours is they give you time to get used to driving on the terrain and building your confidence before moving to the more difficult places.
There were a couple of easy rock crawls in this area and plenty of twists and turns through the hills and valleys.
Riding around the sand trails has its perks! There are lots of twist and turns, hills and valleys.
The first steep hill that I mastered was the beginning of our little adventure into a box canyon.
As there is only one way in and out it was the perfect hiding spot for native American tribes to lie in wait for the new settlers coming through for surprise attacks.
On certain days a zip line is set up to fly across the canyon.
Jurassic Park is an amazing area where mother nature has crafted out the sandstone hills to look like various per-historic creatures, sculptures, faces and one hill even looks like a huge cruise ship.
It was fun driving between them.
We stopped for a break here and to climb over a few of the rock formations and experience stunning views over St George and Warner Valley 1,000ft below and far in the distance beyond the rugged cliffs, the Grand Canyon West.
Major Sand Dunes
The end of the trail took us to the area that had nothing else but a valley of rolling red sand dunes.
Nothing beats the rush of driving up and down the big sweeping dunes and feeling the ATV glide underneath you.
Phew. You’ll be relieved when it glides over the top and not slide back down!
We ended at the top of one of the dunes – the hardest to get up – to watch the sunset and to enjoy the views back over the lake.
The sunset itself wasn’t so spectacular as it’s still a little high in the sky and washed out as it slips behind the sand dunes. The colors you get looking back out over the lake however are.
It was a lovely way to end an epic adventure. We all decided we wanted to buy an ATV after it.
Definitely put this on your list of fun things to do in St. George Utah.
Things to know about ATV and Jeep Adventure Tours
- You must wear long pants and closed toe shoes
- Cameras are okay as long as your arms don’t go outside the vehicle using them!
- Water and snacks are provided
They have three vehicles available for their ATV tours:
- ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) or 4-wheelers.
- ATV 2-UP (All-Terrain Vehicle built for 2 people). This is an ATV that is specially built for 2 people. Passengers must be 10 yrs old.
- We rode in a Jeep-UTV (Utility Task Vehicle) also known as Side-X-Side. They hold 4 people, one driver and three passengers. The girls loved that they were able to sit in the front.
There are three general adventure tour lengths: 3, 4, or 5 hours offered by ATV Jeep and Adventures.
Tours operate year round. Book your tour here.
Video: ATV adventure in St George Utah
Southern Utah Travel Planning (bucket list)
Where to Stay in St George
You can camp at the Sand Hollow State Park, which is what we wanted to do but it was booked out.
We stayed at KOA Hurricane St George, which we weren’t too impressed with, although it was close to Sand Hollow.
St. George hotels that come recommended are:
- The Desert Garden Inn offers free WIFI, parking, a pool with a view and a hot breakfast. It’s great for families and they allow pets.
- The Best Western Abbey Inn is located in the middle of St George giving you easy access to restaurants and stories. Free breakfast, pool and hot tub.
- Wingate by Wyndham is also located near restaurants and shops. It also has free shuttle, complimentary bike rental, free breakfast, pool and is pet friendly.
- Inn at Entrada is a luxury resort choice located just outside of the stunning Snow Canyon Sate Park. Golfers will love this choice.
- Inn on the Cliff is another resort option that often makes the Best of Lists! Gorgeous views, especially from the pool.
How to Get to St. George
St. George is just under two hours from Las Vegas.
So you could visit Sand Hollow State Park on a day trip, however we recommend spending longer in the St. George region as there are so many awesome things to do here.
Other Things to do in Utah
During our month long stay on this one year road trip we are seeking out all the fun things to do in Utah, including lots of outdoor activities in Southern Utah.
For more incredible places to visit near St George and Utah, check out:
- 14 best things to do in Zion National Park
- 11 amazing things to do in Arches NP
- 12 incredible things to do in Canyonlands NP
- 20 Incredible Places to Visit in Utah For Your Utah Road Trip
- 12 Don’t-Miss Things to Do in Capitol Reef National Park Utah
- Magical & Unique – Goblin Valley State Park, Utah Is Remote But Worth It