A trip to Zion National Park should be on every family’s bucket list, make that every person’s bucket list! I have see the photos, and yet I still wasn’t sure what to expect. People talk very highly of this park, and for good reason. Yes, the hype is real… I think that Zion National Park was once a “best kept secret”, but let me tell you – the secret is out!
Here you will find the winding Virgin River, drastic canyon walls jutting into the bright blue sky, and the famous Narrows. Upon entering the park – my jaw dropped. I immediately asked my husband to pull over so I could fully take in what I was seeing before my eyes. I do not think I could ever fully explain just how majestic Zion is, I am still rendered speechless several days later.
I have compiled a list of the three A’s: Accommodations, Adventures, and Appetite! If you have any questions about Zion National Park or our trip please send me an email!
The town right outside of Zion National Park is named Springdale – it is the perfect place to stay when visiting. We stayed at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park. This is an amazing place to stay for traveling families for many reasons. The rooms are suites, with separate bedroom and living room space. There is a pool with a splash pad and hot tub, perfect for winding down after an adventurous day. There is a complimentary breakfast with someone for everyone (yes, even the pickiest eaters!).
My favorite part about SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park was the location and the view. Oh, the view. Just look at it! We were able to walk across the street to some great restaurants and loved the small town feel. It was an oasis for travelers, everyone was visiting from different places and was an amazing spot to find fellow adventurers.
Our room had two queen beds, a pull out sofa, a microwave and refrigerator, and a balcony overlooking “the view”. We spent two nights here and I wish we stayed longer!
Zion Peddler – First thing is first – transportation. E-Bikes are the BEST way to see Zion National Park. Zion Peddler is located super close to the entrance of the park, just across the street. We got two e-bikes and two trailers for our kiddos to ride in. Skip the lines for the shuttle and fully immerse yourself in the park and quiet surroundings.
From March through late November, access to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is by shuttle bus only – and e-bikes! This is the perfect way explore anywhere in the park, even in between shuttle stops to get away from the crowd. Zion Peddler has an excellent staff that teaches you how to use the bikes, the rules in the park, and then lets you loose! I had never ridden an e-bike, and also am not an avid biker by any means (I ride with my kids in the neighborhood). From Zion Peddler to the Narrows Trailhead it was about 9 miles – and my husband was very skeptical. That being said – neither of us broke a sweat getting there – it was the most peaceful and joyous ride I have ever been on. The e-bikes take the work out of biking and make it so enjoyable. Our kiddos also said it was their favorite part of the trip!
The Narrows – The amount of research I put into hiking the Narrows with kids was insufferable. I was worried, nervous, and stressed – but really wanted to accomplish it on our visit. That being said – don’t overthink it like I did. Pack water, snacks, a walking stick, water shoes, and a change of clothes. You have to take the Riverside Walk Trail to even get to the narrows which is a mile. Once that trail ends it puts you right into the Virgin River – and this is where the Narrows begins. If you forgot a walking stick – this where you will find many discarded ones. We found some sicks along the way and used those, but there were plenty to pick from that people leave after their hike.
We got to the trailhead for the Narrows at 9:45 AM and it was not TOO crowded as people have described. We also were there the first week of September so the weather was hot and the cool water of the Virgin River felt good. My youngest hiked barefoot if that tells you anything, ha! I highly recommend using a walking stick, they keep you balanced and also help you navigate the water depth. We saw one woman fall into a hole up to there chest because she wasn’t using one. Also, you can turn around anytime. We made it to the waterfall (maybe .6 in, and turned around). We felt accomplished and the kids were still very happy – win win! Be sure to pick up a Junior Ranger guide for the kiddos to complete while sitting on the bike ride!
**Check with a park ranger before heading to the Narrows. This is a flash flood area and they can tell you if it will be safe to hike. I am glad we went in the morning, the afternoon had flash flood warnings and they told people the trail wasn’t safe**
Pa’Rus Trail – This 3.4 mile out-and-back trail is paved and flat. It is a trail you can walk or bike and the has stunning scenery. It follows the Virgin River and has incredible views of the Watchman. When this trail ends, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive begins. So you will take this trail to get to the rest of the park on your e-bike. We stopped at this great stop that was unmarked on this trail:
Lower Emerald Pool Trail – This trail came highly recommended, both by park rangers and my research beforehand. Lower Emerald Pool trail is a rough, paved trail that leads through pinyon-juniper woodland to the Lower Emerald Pool and ephemeral waterfalls. You cannot go into the Emerald Pools, so make sure to watch your kiddos. This trail was easy and relaxing, the kids did it on their own, 1.2 out-and-back. Though the waterfall and the emerald pool were underwhelming. There were some mule deer that were in the pool drinking, so that was a highlight.
Moqui Sand Cave – Located in Kanab, Utah – we stopped here on our way to Zion. I had seen photos of this place and it looked like an amazing stop. Let’s be clear – other blogs gave me a false idea of the hike to these, so I wanted to share my experience. The hike to the base of the caves is easy – though it is not paved and definitely not accessible with stroller or wheelchair. It is also in the blazing sun with no shade so plan to go morning or evening in the summer.
That being said, the hike up the rocks to the caves is not a good idea for young children. My 7 year old was able to do it, but my 5 year old didn’t even want to try. It is steep and slippery – think of walking on a salt table (there is loose sand). Bring proper hiking shoes and water. My husband took our daughter, so while I did not get to see it – it does look gorgeous. My oldest adored this stop, it was her favorite thing we saw on the 10 day road trip. Well worth the visit – just understand you may not want to take littles.
The Bit and Spur – This southwestern restaurant was right across the street from our hotel, and we were so excited to get some beautiful outdoor seating here. The restaurant itself has cooling sprayers that create a really fun atmosphere. There was a lawn area for the kids to play while waiting for the food to be ready as well. The food was delicious, the staff are attentive, and the beer selection was great. Highly recommend Bit and Spur!
Zion Lodge – After hiking the narrows we biked to Zion Lodge for some lunch. It was a great place to rest and recharge, grab some cold beers and let the kids shop around in the air conditioning. The Zion Lodge is right across the street from the Emerald Pools trailhead.
Zion Brewery – After our day in Zion, we biked to the brewery to celebrate our day and grab some much needed food. The food here was great, I highly recommend the blackened shrimp tacos. Ironically the people sitting right next to us were also from Raleigh, what are the chances?! Oh, and the beer is great!
Until next time…