Sunday, June 30, 2019

Our Favorite Things To Do In Zion National Park

Zion National Park was a favorite of our family. There are so many things to do in Zion National Park. Southern Utah has 5 major National Parks but we were only able to visit Zion along with the Grand Canyon on this trip. Previously we were able to visit both Arches and Canyonlands National Park. Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef are on our list for future trips. We took this trip before we were fulltime RVers so we had one week in March for Spring Break and were traveling with our minivan and popup camper.

Where to Stay

We tried to be spontaneous this trip and stay at 1st come, 1st serve campgrounds in the national parks. Despite being March, we had no luck getting a spot in the national park campground. Thankfully because it was March the RV parks right outside the national parks were mostly empty. We ended up at Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort. We really enjoyed our stay here and would definitely recommend this RV Resort (not sponsored). The location was literally just outside the park entrance. You could walk to the visitor's center. Since Zion has a mandatory shuttle bus we did walk to the park entrance on several occasions and then road the shuttle bus into the park.

Driving into the area

Things To Do In Zion National Park

Visitor Center

The visitor center is an important 1st stop for your time in the park. National park visitor centers and national park rangers are a wealth of information. Not only do they have exhibits and typically a park film, almost all the rangers love talking to visitors and help them plan their trip into the park (talk about dream job). My favorite thing to do is take the time to talk to the rangers about their favorite part of the park and ask what they would do with kids our age. I also often ask what is a less visited part of the park they would recommend. On many occasions I have received insider tips about the park and been told to visit things I wouldn't have seen otherwise. The park rangers are truly the experts on the park and most love their jobs. Don't skip this step!

Zion National Park

Junior Ranger Program

The visitor center is also where you can pick up your junior ranger books. The National Park Junior Ranger program is another highlight of the National Parks for our family. Each park (or monument or historic site) has a booklet of information, activities, and challenges for the kids to complete. Once the kids have completed the activities they can return to the visitor's center to be sworn in as junior rangers and receive a badge. Our kids have become junior rangers at 21 National Parks sites so far. Junior ranger books make for an awesome day of homeschooling. You spend the day in the park exploring, hiking, learning, reading the visitor center exhibits, and watching the park video.

All 4 kids being sworn in as junior rangers at Zion National Park

Showing off his badge and his cheeseburger smile

Ranger Led Activities

Ranger lead activities are another National Park favorite for our family. If you visit in the off season the activities will be limited but if you visit during peak season there should be several activities each day. Ranger talks are informative and a lot of fun. Ranger lead hikes are some of our favorite as the rangers take you on a hike to a specific area and narrate the hike with their wealth of information. Such a great experience! Some parks even offer special junior ranger activities that are geared towards kids. We have done things like play games focused on learning about the park or getting to touch animal hides or bones. Read your park newspaper and map and ask what ranger activities are available while you are visiting.

Zion National Park

Hike The Narrows

Hiking The Narrows is a highlight of visiting Zion National Park. It is a narrow section of canyon that can only be hiked by walking up or downstream. If you want to hike upstream, as most people do, a permit is not required. If hiking in a river isn't your speed, you can view The Narrows area of Zion National Park the paved riverside walk one mile from the Temple of Sinwava. Since it was March when we were visiting it wasn't too hot outside and the water was really cold so we only hiked in a short distance. Our youngest was also almost 4 years old so that limited how far we wanted to hike in the river. Even if you don't plan to hike The Narrows, I still recommend visiting the area. It is beautiful!

The Narrows

Silly faces at The Narrows

Weeping Rock

Hiking to Weeping Rock was another favorite for our family while we were there. It is a short trail but Weeping Rock is really neat. The area is a lush hanging garden where water flows year round. Unlike a waterfall the water seems to just seep out of the rock continuously. It is quite the sight. The kids especially thought it was neat, as they had never seen anything quite like it. I see how the rock got its name, it looks like it is weeping. Definitely add this to your list of places to check out in Zion. Check out this quick video clip of Weeping Rock:

Angels Landing

One area of the park where we wanted to visit but weren't able to was Angels Landing. Angels Landing is a strenuous trail with steep drop offs but the view from the top looks amazing. It is not recommended for small children or those afraid of heights and we had both in our group. If you are a good hiker and have older kids I would definitely recommend this hike. Next time we visit Zion it is on our list.

Final Thoughts

Zion National Park is a beautiful National Park and should be on everyone's list to visit some day. It's location makes it easy to plan a road trip from many western states. It is easy to include Zion on a trip to Moab, Utah (and Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park) or The Grand Canyon (what we did), or even Las Vegas, Nevada. Including more than one site into a trip makes the drive or flight seem more worthwhile. If you are able to camp and plan your own meals and bring the food you need, you can make a national park vacation very affordable. Another money saving tip is to purchase the America the Beautiful National Parks pass for $80 and enjoy unlimited National Park visits over the next year. Happy adventuring!

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