For spring break this year, the Fab Fam took a camping road trip across the Southwest (from Austin to Big Bend Ranch State Park in West Texas, Page, Arizona for Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, and Zion and Arches National Parks in Utah). I’ll share our overall road trip route, itinerary, and recommendations in a few weeks, but leading up to that I am highlighting each of our destinations in detail. Today’s post covers our short, but memorable time in Zion National Park in southern Utah.
In our jam-packed road trip week, we found ourselves so close to Zion that we had to try and squeeze it in. We only had time for one day in the park, but it’s a place I have always wanted to go, and I couldn’t resist at least touching the surface. I do have to admit that one day was not enough time. We didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked. If I could do it again, I would have tried to book early enough to stay in the park (camping sites and accommodations book well in advance). That being said, we don’t regret our time there. Zion was so beautiful to behold that it was almost surreal. Everything was so large in scale, so majestic, that the photos don’t do it justice. So if you find yourself in a similar situation with limited time, here is our advice on seeing a few things and getting around with young kids.
Even the winding, 10-mile drive to the Visitor’s Center from the east entrance was full of epic scenery. We almost couldn’t believe our eyes at the majesty of what we saw when we exited the tunnels or turned a sharp curve to reveal magnificent, sheer cliffs.
The Visitor’s Center is where we were able to speak to friendly staff to get advice on kid-friendly hikes to do in a short amount of time. We were also recommended to park our car and take advantage of the free shuttle system that takes you through the canyons, stopping at every major trailhead. This was great advice, and took some of the stress and guesswork out of navigating the huge park.
The first hike we did, which was easy enough to do with children, was the Emerald Pools Trail. It is an uphill hike with stairs and some sheer edges, but if your kids can be safe and alert, it shouldn’t be a problem.
This hike allows you the option to hike to the lower, middle, or upper pools depending on how far you want to go and how much time you have (they are between about 1 and 3 miles round-trip depending on how far you decide to go before looping back). Either way, you are rewarded with beautiful views and waterfalls. We decided to go to the middle pool.
The Emerald Pools Trail is near the Zion Lodge. This was a great post-hike respite for a cool drink and snack before we hopped back in the shuttle to try and squeeze in another trail.
The second hike we attempted was Weeping Rock. This was a great hike for us, as it is only about a half mile round-trip. What is cool about this trail is that it leads to what looks like a waterfall, but is actually a rock that “weeps” water that is soaked into it like a sponge. The kids thought this was very cool!
The trail actually leads you all the way under the falling water.
Next time we go, we would love to dare Angel’s Landing (“one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the national park system” according to ZionNational-Park.com), but without the kids. There are also more view points and kid-friendly trails that we’d love to explore in this large park.
Stay tuned next week for a recap of the next part of our trip in Arches National Park, and pin this one for future reference if you take a trip to southern Utah!