Hiking families and nature enthusiasts cannot resist the call of Zion National Park. Soaring cliffs of Navajo sandstone dominate the landscape creating an otherworldly environment. If you ever wanted to pretend you were on Mars, this is the place to go during sunrise and sunset. The deep reds that settle into the stone add to the sci-fi reality that surrounds you. Even if your family isn't particularly outdoorsy, you will find plenty of easy hikes and fun in the park for all experience levels.
Stay outside of the park so you can explore the town and have more eating options, but make no mistake, there is one major reason to visit. You are here to explore Zion National Park and there is very little to compete with this wonder of nature.
The Cliffrose Lodge and Garden is the perfect spot to set up if you aren't staying in the park. The lodge is a 5-minute stroll to the visitors center where you can pick up a free shuttle to begin your tour of the canyon. Accommodations include standard guestrooms plus 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom suites. Most suites have a full kitchen, which can save families time and money on meals. A hot breakfast is included in your room rate. The coffee is always flowing, along with eggs, bacon, breakfast burritos, cereal, fruit, and pastries.
Zion Lodge (in the park) has the Castle Dome Cafe, which offers a simple breakfast menu (coffee and cinnamon buns) and generic lunch (burgers, hot dogs, and fries), but the microbrews in the Beer Garden on the patio save the day for tired hikers looking to unwind. The Red Rock Grill is a more formal spot to start or end your day of hiking around the park. Entrees include steaks, vegetarian options, and Alaskan salmon. Sit back with a glass of wine as the sun sets on the canyon wall and recount the best parts of your day.
If you are staying in town you definitely want to pop into the Spotted Dog Cafe. Their dinner entrees are perfectly proportioned and the flavors coming out of the kitchen match the interior decor. Don't let the Boho exterior turn you off. This place is worth a stop, and your whole family will find something to devour after their day in the park.
When Sol Foods Supermarket opened locals and visitors rejoiced. Finally there was a market to stock up on essentials for camping and cooking and prepared food to take into the park for picnics. Prices are higher since it is the only game in town, but you can still find most of what you will need to make your stay in Zion National Park more than comfortable.
There are plenty of easy and moderate trails to tackle with your kids, no matter your skill level or the age of your children. The Riverside Walk takes you down a winding paved path toward the entrance to the Narrows as you follow the Virgin River throughout Zion Canyon. Let your kids skip ahead while you gaze up at the towering cliffs, over at the dripping walls of stone, and down at the rushing river that brings life to this desert landscape.
If you are looking for more of a challenge, head to the Emerald Pools Trail. The hike to the lower Emerald Pool is easy for hikers of any skill level as most of the way is paved. If your kids are up to it, continue to climb to the upper pool, which can be a bit more tricky with its sand and rock trail, but the end result will be enchanting. Even in the dry season when the pools can be little more than murky puddles, the hike is worth it.
Does your family enjoy being outdoors? Wheres your favorite place to get back to nature?
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Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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