Zion National Park - The Family Edition

Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah. As one of the most sought after nature preserve distinguished by Zion Canyon’s steep red cliffs, Zion sees millions of visitors each year. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive cuts through its central section, leading to forest trails along the Virgin River. No matter the age or level of hiker there is bound to be plenty to see and experience. 

We followed the adventure of a family of three through their two days at Zion National Park. Because they had a two-year-old at the time, they opted out of hiking and chose the lodge life. 

The trip started by checking into their home for the weekend; Cliff Rose Lodge. The lodge is a 5-minute walk to the entrance of Zion National Park. The rooms are quaint, and they come fully equipped for families. The options Cliff Rose offers can accommodate small and large families. They have double queen beds in addition to one-three bedroom accommodations. Check in includes delicious local cookies that you can help yourself too. 

A few tips our family shared for a perfect stay at the lodge:

Pack a swimming suit – The pools are heated!!
There are fire pits, but you need wood, and supplies to make smores with.
They have three play gyms for toddlers (the free-standing ones with slides, a climbing area, etc.) that are fun to play with the little ones.
Bring bug spray!!! It’s right on the river.
Breakfast is free! It’s not terrible, but it is basic — so if you have any picky eaters they had: Waffles, Eggs, Bacon, Potatoes, Burritos, Cereal, and Yogurt.
There is a little beach area kids can play in the sand, but watch them carefully around the water because it moves quickly.
They do NOT sell water bottles here. In fact, they are very eco-friendly. Bring cases of water if you want them. There are refrigerators in the rooms.
No matter if you hike or just ride the buses through the park, Zion has a unique beauty. Once you pay ($15 per adult, Toddlers Free!), you have full access to the park and the shuttle system. The shuttle system gets busy toward the end of the day, so prepare if you have strollers or big backpacks. They stop at all of the trails within the park. Our family started their hiking experience on the Emerald Pools Trail.

The Emerald Pool Trail has three levels (lower, middle, top) — The lower pool is safe for families with young kids because as you started to go higher, the trails get narrower, and the drops were “death upon falling” kind of drops. Some people had strollers because a lot of the trail is widely paved the way to the lower pool.

As long as you don't have a stroller, you will have the flexibility to move toward the middle pool where the view is breathtaking. There is also a picture perfect narrow rock, and the best place to toss rocks. 

While it isn't considered a hiking trail in the minds of those who hike a lot, The Pa’Rus Trail, reminds visitors of a stroll on a beach boardwalk. It’s level ground, and most of it is paved. It runs along the river and the campsites. It’s a great place if you have wanted to ride bikes, scooters, walk your dogs, or push a stroller. There are plenty of wildflowers and beautiful scenery around you to look at. It is also less stressful than maneuvering tight spots. 

Our family shared their tips for hiking in Zion with a toddler:

  1. Wear your child, or carry them if they don’t want to walk. Strollers make hiking tough.
  2. Bring extra water and Gatorade. 
  3. Sunscreen. It may sound juvenile, but a lot of people were complaining that they forgot sunscreen.
  4. Wear light layers — it can be cold in the morning, but then it heats up real fast.
  5. Bring a backpack that snaps over your chest.
  6. Fill that said backpack with protein bars for everyone to snack on if needed.
  7. Stick to the trails — don’t destroy plant life.
  8. Wear hats! 
  9. Stick with these trails: Emerald Pools, Pa’rus Trail, The Grotto Trail, Archeology Trail, or the Weeping Rock Trail. Everything else is too intense for a toddler.
  10. Eating at the Lodge is your only option unless you carry food in, or go back to the hotel. The lodge has pizza, burgers, ice cream, and sodas. It’s not the best — but when you have a hungry toddler screaming at you, you’ll give them pizzas (am I right?).

You will never regret taking a family trip. Plan ahead and be vigilant with snacks. Do you travel with your children?

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