The best beaches around Cowichan Lake and River

Pristine lake on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Lake is a beautiful 30km long lake located in the Cowichan Valley, popular for swimming, boating and fishing. It is also where the Cowichan River starts, providing another fun activity – tubing down the river!

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The area is sparsely populated, in large part because only a small section of the lake has paved road access. The largest town on the lake is Lake Cowichan at the eastern tip of the lake where the river starts. (That’s Lake Cowichan on Cowichan Lake, not to be confused with Cowichan Bay which is a nearby town on the ocean – confusing, right?) On the south side of the lake are two smaller communities – Mesachie Lake and Honeymoon Bay. On the north side of the lake is the community of Youbou (pronounced you-bow). It is possible to drive around the whole lake along logging roads, which can take up to 2 hours.

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Boating and water sports are popular on Cowichan Lake

So where’s the beach?

When we first moved to Lake Cowichan nobody seemed to be able to give me a straight answer when I asked where the town beach was. Now I know it’s because there is no single “main beach” on the lake. Instead the lake is dotted with small to medium size beaches and secret spots as well as some private beaches. Here is a list of my family’s favourite places to swim around the lake and the river.

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Little Beach on the Cowichan River is great for swimming

Popular swimming holes

Cowichan River Tubing

The two main places to launch tubes are Saywell Park (drive through the roundabout, over the blue bridge and park beside Jakes at the Lake Restaurant) and Central Park (right beside the roundabout – park at O.R.K.A. Tube and Kayak Rentals, Country Grocer or beside the park). O.R.K.A. and The Tube Shack are the two tube rental outfits in town, and both provide shuttle service to pick you up from the exit point of Little Beach. You can also bring your own tube or buy one from one of the stores in town.
Saywell Park: 125C South Shore Road Lake Cowichan BC
Central Park: 46 Stanley Road, Lake Cowichan BC

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A few tubers on the Cowichan River in Lake Cowichan.

Little Beach

As mentioned above, Little Beach is the place where tubers finish their ride down the river. As the name suggests, it is quite a small beach, and yet one of our favourites. The water is a very nice temperature July through September and there is a deep pool for swimming as well as shallow areas for wading. The water alternates hues of green, gold and turquoise depending on the light and we regularly see kingfishers, herons, a variety of ducks, geese, crayfish, otter, small fish and once even saw a black bear crossing the river a little ways up. Because of the popularity of tubing which peaks on weekends, it can be a bit crowded and even rowdy on the weekends, especially in the early evening. Midweek though we rarely see more than a couple other people and often have the place to ourselves.
Address: 7940 Greendale Rd, Lake Cowichan, BC

little beach cowichan river swimming lake cowichan
Beautiful green waters of Little Beach on the Cowichan River

Arbutus Park

Our kids favourite place on the lake is Arbutus Park in Youbou. There’s a large grassy field with picnic tables and a covered picnic shelter. There is a small playground with slide, short flying fox and swings. The main attraction is the sandy beach with a dock, water slide and diving board. In July and August there’s a lifeguard and life jackets available. There are also a couple places nearby to stop for a snack or ice cream. We love Cassy’s coffee house which has homemade food and ice cream, and the Youbou Mini Mart has basic groceries and often has fresh fruit and house-made packaged sandwiches.
Address: Alder Crescent, Youbou, BC

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Sunset from the dock at arbutus park in Youbou on Cowichan lake
arbutus park in Youbou Summer beach swimming waterslide on cowichan lake BC
Picnic shelter at Arbutus Park in Youbou is a great place for birthday parties.
arbutus park youbou swimming beach on Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island in BC
Great family swimming spot at Arbutus Park in Youbou

Lakeview Park and Campground

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Playground at Lakeview Park and Campground in Lake Cowichan
lakeview campground beach cowichan lake bc
Sandy beach at Lakeview park and campground in Lake Cowichan on Cowichan lake, BC

The Duck Pond

The Kinsmen Duck Pond is a playground and beach on the river with a dock you can swim out to. If you plan to float the river with your own tube it is a great spot to launch. There are bathrooms and changerooms and a foot bridge from the park will take you to the main strip in town for an iced coffee at Scarlett’s Boutique and Coffee Bar or an Ice Cream at Deep Fried Ice Cream or J&V’s Diner.

Gordon Bay

Gordon Bay is a Provincial Park with a campground and nice flat sandy beach in a protected bay. There is a 20 minute trail that will take you a beautiful sunny spot at the mouth of the bay with a short swim or wade to a small island. The trail starts at the end of the parking lot.

Lesser known local favourites

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Sunset on Cowichan Lake from Spring Beach

Spring Beach

Spring Beach offers a nice, secluded gravel beach at the tip of the north arm of the lake. This is a day use site that can be reached by a short trail through the forest. Coming from Duncan on Highway 18/Youbou Highway, turn left onto Meades Creek Road. If coming from Lake Cowichan along North Shore Road, turn left onto Meades Creek Road and continue until you see a forest plantation on the right (fenced forest with lots of hats on the fence). Park along Meades Creek Road and look for a big yellow gate and big sign for Spring Beach Recreation Area. The beach is a short walk down the trail from the gate.

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Kids playing with logs at Spring Beach

Price Park

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Secluded beach in Price Park, Youbou

Price Park in Youbou has a series of small beaches accessed via forested trails. Main trail access is from Miracle Way. There are also entrances from Youbou Road and Swordfern Way.

Price Park CVRD info

Lily Beach, Honeymoon Bay

lily beach honeymoon bay cowichan lake dock

Lily Beach in Honeymoon Bay gets sun all afternoon. There is a roped swimming area with a dock as well as picnic tables. The beach can be reached by a short trail from the parking lot which is located on Beach Drive off of South Shore Road.

lily beach honeymoon bay cowichan lake picnic

Central Beach, Honeymoon Bay (Park Avenue)

A great little gravel beach that is generally not too crowded and sunny late into the afternoon.

Fisherman’s Beach

Fisherman’s Beach is only accessible by a trail that crosses the Trans Canada Trail. It is not marked so a little tricky to find. The trail starts from Cowichan Lake Road, approx 4km west of the Skutz Falls turnoff, or 4km east of Lake Cowichan. You can park on the side of the road at an ‘S’ curve about 20m east of a blue house on a small farm with a barn. Follow the trail until you reach the river – approx. 20 minutes.

Fishermans Beach Cowichan River Vancouver Island BC
Fisherman’s Beach on the Cowichan River (portrait by a toddler)

Gravel Road Access Beaches

There are quite a few beautiful campgrounds around Cowichan Lake that have their own beaches. These are gravel road access only so roll up your windows and slow down. Many of these roads are also in active logging areas, so drive with extra caution during work hours (Mon-Fri).

Pine Point Campground

Pine Point is about 3.5km past the end of the paved road in Youbou and has a day use beach.

Maple Grove Campground

Maple Grove is approx 5.5km past the end of the paved road in Youbou. Drive through the campground until you reach the sign for the beach.

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Picnic dinner on the beach! Maple grove recreation site and campground near Youbou on Cowichan Lake
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Time for a dip in the lake! Maple Grove campground beach on Cowichan Lake.

Caycuse Campground

Heather Campground

Nixon Creek Campground


BC Local News Best Beachs of the Cowichan Lake Area

Truth, Love, Parenting – Meet the Parents

Papousse’s Meet the Parents series offers a behind the scenes look at adventurous parents who are inspiring other families to explore. Truth, Love, Parenting. is a parenting blog written by Drew Tupper, a husband, father, and teacher based in Victoria, BC. Drew is an advocate and educator for thriving families and healthy children. He and his wife also take their kids on fun adventures around Vancouver Island and beyond. We recently caught up with Drew to learn more about his peaceful parenting approach and tips for keeping your cool on the road.

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1. We’ve been loving your peaceful approach to parenting on your new blog Truth, Love, Parenting. What prompted you to start sharing your experiences and tips for other parents?

I used to be an angry Daddy. I definitely didn’t start out as a peaceful parent, I transitioned to it. I was also loving, of course, but my default in difficult times was anger and frustration. It began as a self-improvement project and has taken off into a blog, public speaking, and a coaching practice. After adopting peaceful parenting strategies not only do we have a happier home, my kids are better behaved. There is an old way of thinking that assumes you need to be really firm and hard on your kids in order for them to behave. Not true. So, how could I not share this? How could I not help other people understand that they can have a happier home with more helpful children?

moos pizza kayak camping van Vancouver Island family roadtrip

2. You mentioned you spent much of last summer travelling in a van with your kids. How do they like van camping? What worked well? Were there any challenges?

My kids are absolutely in love with the van camping, almost too much. They get excited and goofy which makes putting them to bed a challenge. We have a weirdo Japanese import called a Mazda Bongo Friendee. It is similar to a Westy. It too has a pop-top and can comfortably sleep 4. We travelled around Vancouver Island from Victoria to Quadra and Cortes Island and everywhere in between. The Discovery and Gulf Island are some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I’ve been on beautiful beaches in Koh Pi Pi Thailand, Sardegna Italy, and Mallorca Spain. Vancouver Islanders are absolutely blessed!

About other challenges, there is something about fresh air and sunshine that just sorts everything out. I’m sure there were some challenges but they don’t seem all that serious in the summer. What works well is going with the flow. Having the camper van helps with this. If all else fails, and we don’t get to our destination, we can pull over somewhere and sleep.

peaceful parenting toddler beach little explorer vancouver island

3. Do you have any tips for keeping things relaxed while travelling?

It’s all about preparation and expectations. Either be really well prepared or don’t set your expectations too high, one or the other. Like I mentioned, we tend to go with the flow and let the day/vacation unfold in a natural way, as the spirit moves us.

picnic dinner travel with kids vancouver island

4. What are a few of your favourite places to camp around Vancouver Island?

Parksville, Saltspring Island, Quadra Island, Cortes Island, Denman Island, Hornby Island.

gulf island little explorer bc family roadtrip

5. What destination is at the top of your list for a family vacation?

My dream is to take a year off and travel around with the kids. I’d love to go to lots of places. I am a sucker for Europe. I love it…the people, the food, the beauty, the architecture. But places I haven’t been which are on the list: India, South America and Africa.

Learn more about Drew’s peaceful approach to parenting on his blog — Truth, Love, Parenting. Get Drew’s latest blog posts and parenting tips via his facebook page:

kids camping sunset gulf islands bc

kayak microsfashion toddler family travel outdoors

Little Explorer Reads: Amos & Boris

At Papousse, we believe books are a fantastic way to adventure with our kids. Our Little Explorer Reads series introduces books to inspire you and the little ones in your life to explore.

We’re honoured to have Ashley from Ashley Degraaf Writer Photography (check her out on Instagram, ashley.writerphotographer) guest post with her favourite book for little ones.

Amos & Boris by William Steig

I have always been a book nerd. Now that I have kids I’m a children’s book nerd too. Searching out books with beautiful illustrations, funny rhymes, easy to read lines, comical or cute characters, and good stories and morals has become a big pleasure of mine.

William Steig’s classic tale of friendship and helping others no matter how different, with enough irony to even amuse parents, Amos & Boris fits in the realm of an all-around good children’s book in our house.

Before I explain why, here’s a little bit about the book.

Amos, a curious little mouse with a big sense of adventure, decides to build a ship and set sail on the sea inspired by his love of the ocean. He finds himself in need of rescue, as he falls overboard and loses sight of his ship, The Rodent. He’s rescued by Boris the whale who tells him he will take him to the Ivory Coast of Africa, where he was headed anyways. After they go their separate ways, and many years later, Boris finds himself in trouble and Amos finds a very clever way of returning the favour to his friend and rescuing him.

Reasons why we like the book so much:

The illustrations. The cover art itself is cool and well, this may sound strange to you, but the soft and simple pastel colours and the image of Boris the whale (with Amos the tiny mouse perched on top) fit our home’s nautical theme. I proudly display it on the top of our bookshelf in the kid’s loft space.

The text. I studied poetry in university and although I majored in journalism I dabbled in it for several semesters and fell in love. So of course, lines like, “…surf sounds – bursting breakers, the backwashes with rolling pebbles…” inspire that warm and joyful feeling when words take you to another place.

amos and boris phosphorescent sea

I especially loved this part:

“One night, in a phosphorescent sea, he marveled at the sight of some whales spouting luminous water; and later, lying on the deck of his boat gazing at the immense, starry sky, the tiny mouse Amos, a little speck of a living thing in the vast living universe, felt thoroughly akin to it all. Overwhelmed by the beauty and mystery of everything, he rolled over and over and right off the deck of his boat and into the sea.”

Although this may seem a bit sophisticated for a children’s book, and the idea too big for a little one to take in to some, I don’t think it necessarily is. It provides a brilliant image of those moments of observing nature’s beauty while abroad and that feeling of complete wonder, also that overwhelming feeling of a universe so big. It’s also a great segue to talk to your little one about the story of Amos’ journey.

The moral.

Discovery. Defying odds. Adventure. Helping others in desperate times. Being there for friends, no matter how different they are from you. How everyone plays a very important role in the universe. These all play a part in this simple story of a whale and mouse becoming friends. How cool is that? Your child might not pick up on all of that yet, but some parts yes, and more later down the road as they get older. 

One day they might be the one reading it to their children too, totally immersed in all the lessons that can be learnt from this classic.

They liked it too!

And lastly, the kids love it and request it quite often. I guess that should be one of the most important aspects of why a children’s book is a favourite in the household, not that just mom thinks it’s a super groovy book that has cool images, poetic language, and great lessons.
amos and boris by william steig

Are we there yet? // Little Explorer Reads

At Papousse, we believe books are a fantastic way to adventure with our kids. Our Little Explorer Reads series introduces books to inspire you and the little ones in your life to explore.

Are we there yet? By Alison Lester

Recommended ages: toddler to grade 4

A journey around Australia

‘Are we there yet?’ is a joyfully illustrated account of one family’s amazing 3 month journey around Australia. Grace and her two brothers get to spend the whole winter term touring the country with their parents. Sometimes camping in a tent trailer, sometimes sleeping with friends or family, their adventure is the perfect blend of entertaining and educational. The story is based on an actual trip taken by the author, which I suspect is what makes it feel so authentic.

are we there yet? by alison lester - a journey around australia

Lester impressively weaves together accounts of over forty Australian destinations including famous cities like, Melbourne, Sidney, Cairns and Canberra as well as many natural attractions and lesser known spots. Every other spread includes a small map so you can track their progress.

The book is on the longer side for a children’s book but does a fantastic job of keeping both my kids (aged 2 and 5) engaged right to the end. Lester uses a repeating pattern that creates a predictable and calming flow, making it a relaxing bedtime story. She is also a superb illustrator and every time I read it I discover something new in her delightful paintings.

‘Are we there yet?’ will appeal to audiences of all ages. There are funny bits that just the adults will get, lots of sights and activities that will entertain kids of different ages and the funnest for my 2 year old is the repetition of the classic road trip mantra by little Billy – ‘are we there yet?’

are we there yet? by alison lester - a journey around australia

The author has also sprinkled little gems of fun dialogue in a cartoon style throughout the story. These aren’t essential to the plot so can be skipped for shorter attention spans, or included for more enthusiastic audiences.

My Australian friend Kim sent my kids this book to encourage us to visit them and it worked! We are super excited to be planing a family trip to Australia. It was neat to learn more about places I’d heard of like Tazmania, the Twelve Apostles, Alice Springs and Uluru, Darwin, and Surfers Paradise. I was also amazed at how many interesting places I knew little or nothing about – the Flinders Ranges, Windjana Gorge, Wilson’s Promontory, Kakadu, the Bungle Bungles, Turquoise Bay, Katherine Gorge, The Great Australian Bight, and the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains.

If you are planning a trip to Australia with kids I highly recommend trying to find this book. I recently discovered it has been adapted for younger audiences as well, under the title “Are We There Yet? Lift the flap and play I-spy!”

Other books I love by this author are Alison Lester’s ABCs, Magic Beach and Imagine. Near to Wilson’s Promontory is Alison Lester’s Gallery and Bookshop in Fish Creek. My friend Kim tells me it is amazing! Kim has also shared a family travel guide to Wilson’s Promontory which you can read here.
Are we there yet? a journey around australia, by alison lester, book review

Contributor giveaway – Wild Flower Botanical Perfume Oil


flore wild flower botanical perfume oil prize

We are giving away this dreamy FLORE Wild Flower Botanical Perfume Oil to one lucky contributor. Have you recently been on your own family trip? Inspire other parents with your travel story to be entered to win.

Share your story to Enter

Travel with your senses in Papousse’s current Contributor contest. Did you know that smell is one of the most powerful way to trigger memories? We promise, you’ll want your little one to remember cuddling you smelling just like this!

Wild Flower from FLORE Botanical Alchemy is a sweet joyous scent with warmth and the puckering flavour of sugared blackberries behind it. Features notes of Poplar Buds, Honey, Mimosa, Blackberries, Amber, Jasmine, Linden, Citrus, Sandalwood, Orris Root, and Cassie. These oil purfumes blend beautifully with your own body chemistry to create a scent unique to you. Purchased from Picot Collective by co-founder Bronwyn when she and her little one were roaming around Fernwood, Victoria, BC (check out her story here to see how easy and simple sharing a story can be).

BONUS: Our friends at Picot Collective in Victoria, BC are offering a special discount for all contributors on Submit your story to get the discount.

Little Explorer Reads: The Airport Book

At Papousse, we believe books are a fantastic way to adventure with our kids. Our Little Explorer Reads series introduces books to inspire you and the little ones in your life to explore.

In this post, we’re honoured to have Anna from The Tangled Yarn (aka KidLitCrafts on Instagram) guest post. She shares not only a great book recommendation, but also a fun craft to engage our kids.

Book Details:

The Airport Book

By Lisa Brown
Recommended ages: Preschool to grade 2 (but my toddler loves this one too!)

What’s the book about?

This fascinating book by Lisa Brown is the perfect introduction to one of the most overwhelming parts of any long-distance vacation: the airport!  While the main storyline is simple and informative, older kids will love diving into the lively illustrations, following various people (and a precious stuffed monkey!) throughout the busy airport.

Whenever we do something new with our little ones, I think it’s important to talk about what things will be like, hopefully assuaging some fears in the process.  Books like this one can be a great resource for travelling families to start discussions about upcoming trips.

Inspired by the sweet little suitcase on the cover, we transformed an empty mint tin into a tiny suitcase of our own.  It’s just the right size for a few legos and patterns to build- the perfect airport activity!

Find more great children’s book recommendations and craft ideas by Anna – follow her on Intagram @kidlitcrafts or check out her website:

Meet the Parents: Wild and Tiny

Welcome to Papousse’s feature series – Meet the Parents – a behind the scenes look at adventurous parents who are inspiring other families to explore. For our first in this series we are thrilled to share our interview with Wild & Tiny, not your average Mom Group based in North Vancouver. Hilary Hawkshaw, the founder, is creating a space for outdoor loving moms to get outside together with their little ones. Read on to learn more about her awesome plans for this group.

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

1. We were super excited to see your new Instagram account @wildandtiny – tell us about your plans for this group.

Thank you! We are so excited to be here. Wild & Tiny is a group of progressive and adventurous parents committed to raising our babies with as much influence from the great outdoors as possible. Our meet ups range from hikes to leisure walks, forest playtime, beach scavenger hunts, to overnight family camping trips (future goals!). We want to be able to encourage parents, particularly new moms, to get outside for some fresh air and know that they don’t have to do it alone. Hiking with babies can be a daunting task at the best of times and we are here to support them. We are a friendly, non judgmental group of friends, mom, dads, and care givers fighting cabin fever together! There are some startling facts coming out of the US with the amount of time kids are spending indoors in front of screens vs outside and I want to be able to help with that. I am also extremely passionate about our planet, and our planet’s well-being. These babies and kids are the next generation who will have to protect it so as a parent, I feel responsible to instill the importance of that with our kids.

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

2. What are your top 3 “bring a baby” hikes on the North Shore?

Can I choose 4? Rice Lake, Quarry Rock, Mystery Lake & Dog Mountain.
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Rice Lake is a very simple cruise (even stroller friendly) if you’re just looking for a quick loop and some fresh air; you’ll see lots of toddlers on this trail it’s that easy. Quarry Rock is similar, but ups the ante a touch by introducing a few climbs and a rewarding view at the end. Still short – you can complete this round trip in about 1.5 hours at a moderate pace, wearing a baby. Mystery Lake on Seymour Mountain is so beautiful in the summer time and very family friendly. It’s a short hike and the lake is swimmable when its warm! Dog Mountain, also on Seymour, is a little longer and good if you’re looking for a sweat. Lots of roots and steep in portions, but the view is worth the climb. These are my go-to hikes, depending on my energy levels!

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

3. What’s your favourite trip you’ve taken your little one on?

In the summer we road tripped with our little one from North Vancouver – Kamloops – Kelowna – back along the beautiful Duffy Lake Rd to Whistler, and over to the island where we ended at Hornby Island. Our province has so much to offer; traveling local is one of my favourite things to do! We stopped at lakes, waterfalls, markets, coffee shops… Being in a different spot every 2-3 nights can be challenging with a baby, but it helped that we stayed in our own timezone and only travelled in the car at nap times. Whenever she’d wake up we would pull over for a break and it was part of the fun to see where we would land!

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

4. All your photos are seriously gorgeous. Tell us a little about what goes in to getting your shots?

Thank you! I have to credit beautiful BC for that. 80% of my Instagram shots are from my iPhone 6S which is a 12megapixel camera and a 63MP in Panaramo mode so I use it a lot. I also just bought a second hand Canon Rebel t3i with a 50mm 1.8 lens from my photographer friend and it has been so much fun! It’s nice not having to be on my phone all the time but still being able to get the shot. I’ve always been a lover of photography, and usually have an image in my head of what I’m trying to achieve with a photo so combining photos of nature + my baby has been pure bliss.

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

5. What are a couple things you like to pack when hiking and/or traveling with a baby?

I never leave home without my Ergo! Whether it’s to the grocery store, road trip or flying it comes with me everywhere because being hands free is a must! Also: SNACKS. Not just for baby, but for me. I plant little snacks for myself everywhere, the car, diaper bag, carrier, etc, because there is nothing worse than a hungry mama. When we air travel I’ve started vacuum packing up my baby’s clothes and it saves me so much space. You can get the bags at the dollar store and it really helps. I’ve got it down to only one suitcase for both her and I when we fly.

A photo posted by Hilary Hawkshaw (@hillyhawk) on

6. What hike or destination is currently at the top of your bucket list?

Ohh, its hard to just pick one! For hikes, I’d have to say hiking the Lions in North Van has always been a dream of mine. It’s an overnight hike and requires a bit of prep, although some people can do it in a day. That or Black Tusk in Whistler is high on my list too. They aren’t entirely baby friendly so it would be an exciting mom & dad adventure. Destinations to travel to would be Iceland, or Norway, Finland, Sweden. I am really drawn to the Scandinavian culture and the way they are raising their babies. That and I want to go to Burning Man with my family in 2018!

A photo posted by wildandtiny (@wildandtiny) on

Follow @wildandtiny on Instagram to get inspired and find out about upcoming meetups.

5 awesome places outside Las Vegas to bring your kids

Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre
Air display at the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre

Las Vegas is full of lights, excitement and entertainment of all kinds (Check out our Las Vegas with a Baby guide for some ideas for visiting with a wee one). When sensory overload kicks in and you crave a zen desert moment (or your kids are driving you bonkers and you need to let them run wild) here are five amazing places you should check out next time you’re in Nevada.

1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

This amazingly beautiful site is just 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip in the Mojave Desert. There is a 13-mile scenic loop drive that circles around the conservation area, so you can even take in the views from the car if you have a napping baby on board. There are loads of hiking and biking trails that branch off from the loop drive, as well as picnic areas, rock climbing spots and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store. Red Rock Canyon also has a campground – the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association has everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – Photo:

Check out this Red Rock Canyon blogpost on Nature Play Trips for a great firsthand account of visiting Red Rock Canyon with kids.

A photo posted by cecimami (@cecimami) on

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is another great family stop located within Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. In addition to nature activities there is an historic ranch house you can tour, a living history program (including costumed role playing and historic re-enactments) as well as the super theatre program. Details available at the Nevada State Parks site.

2. Seven Magic Mountains

A photo posted by Le0 718 (@le0nyc718) on

Seven Magic Mountains is an outdoor public art installation of brightly coloured stacked boulders created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The sculptures stand more than 30 feet high and are set in front of a breathtaking mountain backdrop. The towers are an accessible way to introduce kids to art and a fun place to get outside and move around. You’ll find the desert creation about 10 miles south of Las Vegas and it will be on display until May 2018. #sevenmagicmountains

Here’s a video of the making of the Seven Magic Mountains:

3. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area

view of boulder basin from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail
Panorama of Boulder Basin from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Photo:

Hoover Dam is another great spot located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. More than 1,000,000 people tour the dam and power plant annually. The guided Powerplant Tour takes about 30 minutes, while the Dam Tour lasts nearly one hour. If you take one of these guided tours, and want to explore more features at the dam (not included on the guided tours), they suggest you plan for about 2+ hours for your entire visit.

And there is lots more to see than just the dam – for some easy outdoor family fun you can walk or cycle on The Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. This trail is the railroad bed that was once used to haul supplies and materials to construct the Hoover Dam. It’s an easy going trail and you’ll be treated to awesome views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert landscape.

Just below the dam is a launch site for canoes, kayaks and personal rafts to take a trip down the Colorado River. Note you must make prior arrangements for hoover dam rafting for your paddle craft to be transported to the site – rentals are also available.

4. Death Valley National Park

Join us tomorrow night (Friday 10/28/16) at 7pm for a geology program at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center with Dr. James Calzia.

A photo posted by Death Valley National Park (@deathvalleynps) on

Death Valley is about a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas an incredible 3.4 million acre desert classroom. It is the hottest, driest and lowest national park and is a place of extremes. Despite the name it is full of life. Rare rainstorms can bring lush fields of wildflowers for a short period. Every so often, as in spring 2016 there is a super bloom – a massive display of a variety of wildflowers. Flowers or not there are stunning displays of nature throughout the year and as with all National Parks there are fantastic resources and activities. Check out Death Valley National Park’s list of things for kids to do.

5. Grand Canyon National Park

Las Vegas is one of the closest cities to the Grand Canyon (only Pheonix is closer) making it a great home base from which to visit what is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is about 450km (278 miles) from Las Vegas to the popular south rim of the park. The South Rim is open year round. You’ll find everything you need to plan a trip on the Grand Canyon National Park Service site.

Check out our guide to Las Vegas with a Baby:
las vegas with a baby

Contributor giveaway: travel planning prize pack


We are giving away this beautiful travel planning prize pack to one lucky contributor. Have you recently been on  your own family trip? Inspire other parents with your travel story to be entered to win.

Share your story to Enter

The dreamy prize pack includes a beautiful mug from Picot Collective (because part of traveling is about discovering unique, local treasures), this passport themed journal designed by Rifle Paper Co (a little treasure nabbed by co-founder Bronwyn Dunbar on her family trip to San Diego – read her guide to San Diego), and this hand-dyed table runner made by co-founder Aldea Wood.

BONUS: Our friends at Picot Collective in Victoria, BC are offering a special discount for  all contributors on between now and February 28, 2017. Submit your story to get the discount.