Family Fun Adventure: Zion National Park

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Hey Lovelies! Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season and making fantastic memories. For once I have pictures a plenty for this post. The scenery was SO stunning and I found myself snapping a photo every couple of steps. Hubbs also took many of the pictures I’ve included in this post on his phone. Everywhere you look is postcard perfect. Come along with us on a picture journey through Zion National Park

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We were kinda of on the fence about taking this trip at Thanksgiving break, because we weren’t sure if the weather would be fun for us Cali natives to hike in. We were extremely lucky in that we lucked out both days with pretty clear weather and views for both days that we visited Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.  Here’s is the itinerary we followed for our 4 day trip to these beautiful Southern Utah parks and a few tips. Enjoy!

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Happy to be outta the van and ready to hike

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Day #1: Woke up early and started the day long drive out to the Zion area. We broke up our journey in Vegas for a Thanksgiving buffet lunch, thankfully we made it in before the huge dinner crowds. The meal ended up being about what we would’ve spent on a home cooked special meal, so even though it was not an inexpensive meal, it still worked out ok. We learned that if you sign up for a players card (you don’t need to play) at the casino that the buffet is attached to, you can receive a couple bucks off each meal. After the lunch pit stop headed on out to the town of Springdale, Utah, which is the last town outside of Zion Canyon. Since we weren’t sure we would make it all the way there and not just stay in Vegas, we hadn’t booked rooms. We arrived only to find rooms were going for $175-$200 per room (of the two places we stopped at. The cheaper one was a locally owned type place and the other was a large chain) NOT fun! Since we need two rooms for our crowd of 7, we hopped on the wifi in the parking lot and booked more reasonable rooms at $126 (for two rooms) back the way we came in the town of Hurricane. Since it was a holiday weekend we were very fortunate to not be stranded, everything was pretty packed out. Needless to say we booked the next nights rooms in the next city as soon as we checked in that night

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Day #2: Got up early, packed up, had free breakfast included at the hotel and were on the road at about 7:30. One really great feature about this park is the bus that takes you to a bunch of scenic views and trail heads. We optioned to buy the inter agency pass, which is an annual pass for all the National Parks at $80, instead of the one day pass for $30. Since we were going to visit Bryce Canyon the next day and usually make it to 1-2 other parks during the year, we just went for it. After entering the park, we parked the van and got some warm clothes on. We then boarded the bus and stayed on for the entire loop, to get a feel for the area and sights. The bus driver and recorded information tells a little history of the park and other interesting facts. We spotted lots of mule deer the entire day which was extra fun for the littles

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Back on the bus we headed to the end of the loop to the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava bus stop. This easy 2.2 mile walk (the park website says it takes about 1 1/2 hours) takes you to the entrance of the Narrows hike, which takes you through the canyon walking in the river. How awesome is that! Of course that 8 mile hike is just too long for our littles at this age. But we got to watch lots of waterproof clad folks headed up that way. What we loved about this park was the up close feel. Walking between the canyon cliffs were pretty amazing. Hubbs and I agreed we preferred it to viewing, say the Grand Canyon from the rim

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The Riverside Walk Trail is very easy for all ages, no climbing and its a paved, easy to follow path. Very enjoyable to not have to worry about someone falling off the edge. We were among many visitors to the park that weekend, plenty of people around but it was not too overcrowded. We were very happy to see lots of fellow ‘home grown’ tourists out in nature enjoying our beautiful country

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 Azure at the mouth of the Narrows Trail

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Silly fun by the Virgin River on the Riverside Walk Trail

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Check out all those gorgeous cliffs. The colors were stunning!

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After the this hike we stopped off at the van for lunch and boy was the parking situation crowded! At least 10 people asked us if we were leaving, and lots of other people were circling trying to find parking. Good thing there is a shuttle pick up in the town of Springdale too if you don’t manage to snag a spot in the park. After lunch the buses were so crowded (they are taking all park visitors around as no private vehicles are allowed) we decided to walk from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Zion Human History Museum which was a short mostly flat, paved walk which is part of the Pa’rus Trail

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By the afternoon it was getting a little foggy and we were glad we brought winter jackets. Yeah, I know we are cold sensitive Californians

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We were spoiled by the beautiful fall colors and river views

After checking out a bit of the museum and Azure picking up his Junior Ranger booklet, we divided forces. A couple of less than outdoor enthusiastic big boys took littlest brother for a much needed nap and settled in the van with snacks and books

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The smaller troop of Azure (age 7) and our oldest, Alvin (age 16) were still happy to accompany Mom and Dad for another approximately 2 hour hike that was a little more challenging.  First we made the short walk on the Weeping Rock Trail. Nothing too amazing. The whole park for me was all about the views, rather than the ‘sites’ to arrive at

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The Kayenta Trail has a great view of the Virgin River from a height

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We walked around that huge mountain following the river

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The Lower Emerald Pools Trail leads through a canyon crack. COOL!

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The Kayenta Trail, which starts at The Grotto bus stop is more of a hike. It’s not paved, there are steep drop offs and the trail is a little narrow it places. I was glad that littlest brother (age 4) sat this one out, while he could have made the hike, we would have had to move slower and held his hand to feel comfortable. The trail continues on to the Lower Emerald Pools Trail. Maybe, it was just the time of year (Late November 2015) there wasn’t much water in the pools or coming over the falls, it wasn’t very interesting or too picturesque to me. But the views of the hike were totally amazing and we enjoyed every bit of it

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Azure took part of the Junior Ranger program and was sworn in and given a badge by the ranger after completing a Zion National Park booklet. He was real excited to earn another badge after receiving one at the  Grand Canyon National Park earlier this year

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At Zion we felt like we got to see a good portion of the park and didn’t feel like we were missing out on most of the sites/things to do. Even though there were plenty of longer and more difficult trails we didn’t get to take,I really liked that this park didn’t seem so huge it was overwhelming. Like, say Yellowstone did to me

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I can’t believe we have lived within a day drive of this place and had never been. Get out and explore guys! Our country is SO amazingly beautiful

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One final picture I took while driving out in the evening. TOO much gorgeousness.

What did you do for the holidays this year?

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