Explore UT {Zion National Park}

After a short few days in Arizona, we headed north to Utah. We began our Utah journeys in Zion National Park. Did you know that the National Park Service currently offers a 4th grade pass (A Kid In Every Park)? Right now it is good until August 2016. I am not sure if will be continued for the 2106-2017 school year. The pass allows for a 4th grader and their family (or a certain number of people with them) into most national parks for free. We have been using it at every stop and telling our 4th grader he is the most valuable family member on this road trip.

4.16Zion-014.16Zion-034.16Zion-04Zion has a rugged gorgeousness about it. There were so many different hike options, but we kept ours pretty short. With our kids we can usually do one long hike (4+ miles) or several short ones in a day. We opted for several in the 1-2 mile range at Zion.4.16Zion-06My goofball kids. They decided to do lunges going up one trail. They asked me to take a picture and send it to their Crossfit Kids coach.4.16Zion-07Despite it being cold for our standards, two of my guys could not pass up the opportunity to stick their head in dripping water.4.16Zion-084.16Zion-094.16Zion-10She has been adamant about carrying a backpack. With all the water and snacks we pack, I am pretty sure the pack weighs about as much as she does. She carries it for a bit until one of us can convince her to let us have a turn.4.16Zion-12Somewhere in the distance there are 3 boys and their dad climbing rocks. The girls opted for a snack break.4.16Zion-136 of the Campbells…4.16Zion-144.16Zion-15The boys are on a rock in the distance…it is a little hard to find them!4.16Zion-16At the top of Canyon Overlook trail. It was one of our favorite trails. The hiking isn’t limited to a flat trail…lots to climb on and around and it was just over a mile.4.16Zion-174.16Zion-184.16Zion-194.16Zion-20Like every other park we have visited, we now have a list of all the things we want to go back and try. The top of our list for Zion is to do the Angel’s Landing hike and the Narrows. The Narrows was closed due to rain (it would have been too hard with our girls anyway). Chris and I talked about taking turns to doing Angel’s Landing, but ultimately decided we will just have to come back when the girls are a bit older and we can all do it (or at least those of us that want to).

Our family is at a odd age with hikes. The boys could go on much longer, more strenuous hikes, but the girls aren’t quite ready. We are getting to do so much more than any years before, but our appetites are also wet for more intense hiking. I do know it felt like yesterday that Chris and I each had a baby strapped to us while hiking and here we are now doing things that seemed so impossible not that long ago. Our long hiking days will come. And it will feel like yesterday we were hoping for them.

Anyone else have any tips, thoughts or experiences at Zion? Please share!

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  • Maria Grace - 10 years ago when I was 21, I also visited most of these places you are telling about. And now I watch these photos with a special feeling of, “I’ve been there! I’ve been there! I’ve been there!” I like your photos anyway, but in this case because I’ve been to most of these places myself, I can almost… smell and hear them. And whenever I see your blog pop up in my sidebar with a new post, I click eagerly to experience more of your adventures.

    And whenever I see photos of your little one, I think how happy I am that she is with you. What a difference you have made to this little person’s life. I almost tear up with joy when I see photos of her, and I’m not usually a very tearful person.

  • Leigh - What a beautiful place to explore! All of your posts about hiking make me want to try hiking with my kids! What do you bring with you on your hikes? I wouldn’t even know where to start!

  • Jenny @Words On Wendhurst - You are up in our neck of the woods! We are in Denver Colorado. If you come through to Colorado and would like a place to stay, we have a big house, hot showers and lots of little kids to play with. Seriously. We’d love to have you.

  • Karen - How do your kids stay happy/occupied on the long car rides?

  • Kelly J. R. - Zion is my favorite National Park by far and I’ve hiked many of their trails. Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart and definitely not for little ones. There are scary 1,000 foot drop offs with only a few feet between you and the cliff edge. The first time I hiked it my legs were shaking so bad and I’m not even afraid of heights! I couldn’t believe the NPS actually encouraged people to hike up there. If you think you might want to do Angel’s Landing but aren’t sure if you can handle the exposure, I would suggest trying Hidden Canyon first. That trail has a few ledges with chain supports that will give you a taste of what Angel’s Landing will be like. OR you could hike the Angel’s Landing trail just up to Scout Lookout. You still get amazing views of Zion Canyon without the exposure/scrambling.

  • LisaAnn - It looks like you may have done the hikes that worked best with my 5. (Emerald Pools, and Weeping Rock, and the river trail.) Besides Zion, if you are spending more time in Southern Utah, I would recommend Bryce Canyon National Park (we did the main trail with our kids and it was longer but definitely worth it. The kids liked the hike because you go down into the canyon and then back up.) Capitol Reef NP is also neat, not as popular so it’s less crowded. The Fruita campground has fruit that you can pick in season which is also fun. If you have the chance though, Arches is a must see. It has a variety of hikes at different ability levels. We went there when I was pregnant with my fifth and our oldest was 9. We did 5 shorter hikes in two das. You do have to bring your own water, and since we were there in July, we packed several frozen gallon size jugs. Also the state park Goblin Valley amazing! There aren’t designated trails really and you can just explore the rock formations and climb on then. Definitely a kid favorite. We went there as an extended family vacation and it still remains the favorite–more liked than the national parks because it was less crowded and more free range.

  • Emily Bartnikowski - Have I told you lately how inspiring I find your blogs? Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Mallory - I think the Every Kid in A Park is supposed to last for the next 12 years! So hopefully you can continue these wonderful adventures for the next few years as the kiddos get older!

  • Sarah May - My husband and I went to Zion, and Bryce, a few weeks ago and are planning to take our boys with us next year. Canyon Overlook was a favorite of mine too. The Kayenta Trail on the way down from the upper emerald pool was another favorite. We didn’t do Angel’s Landing because I’m a chicken but the hike to Scout’s Lookout where Angel’s Landing starts was a great hike and a good waiting point for the courageous hikes who want to keep going. I’ve loved following your trip!

  • Jane - Although we live in Canada, we have visit Zion many, many times and keep going back. We have a relative that lives in Springdale, the small town just outside the park gates. Lucky! We have done a variety of hikes in the park from the ones you did (with my 75 year old dad) to full-on overnight canyoneering adventures. You’re absolutely right, some of the hikes wouldn’t yet be appropriate for your littles, but they’ll get there. My daughter did Angel’s landing with her dad when she was 9 and had no trouble. Yes, the last bit up from Scout’s landing can feel a bit dicey, requires care in your footing, but it’s not too bad. I actually prefer the view from Observation Point, my favourite day hike in the park. It’s a bit further down the canyon, one more shuttle stop, and longer than Angel’s landing with a higher elevation change. But the view from up there is stunning. You see Angel’s Landing ahead (you’re way above it) and see the beautiful canyon ahead. There are no dicey areas of the trail, it’s just longer. Observation Point is definitely worth doing. If you are back and willing to split up, your boys would likely love some of the slot canyons – Key Hole, Pine Creek…there are so many. They require some rapelling and I’d always want to go with a guide for safety. The Narrows is also an amazing experience. You could literally spend months in Zion and have a different adventure every day.