A Packed 5 Day Family Adventure in Zion - Itinerary
Cory and Andrea live in Denver, Colorado with their three kids Liam (4), Elijah (3) and Finley (1). Cory is a third culture kid who grew up overseas in Northern Pakistan and he has lived in five different countries and traveled to 26 other countries. Andrea used to help run a youth program at a homeless shelter where she would take her students on camping trips and outdoor adventures! "We want our kids to have the same opportunities to travel and live life as we have had. Hiking and being outdoors allows for our family to slow down, explore and spend time together without any distractions. We hope to teach our kids more about the world by connecting them to people and places of different cultures, landscapes, and experiences."-Andrea. On most weekends you can find them in the mountains.
DATES OF ADVENTURE
Sunday, September 24, 2017 - Thursday, September 28, 2017
AGES OF CHILDREN
4,3, and 1 years old
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at The Watchman campground and loved the location. It was close to the visitor's center, shuttles, and Zion Outfitter. Because of the free shuttle that takes you to most of the trails in Zion, we were able to do very little driving. The campground had dishwashing and bathrooms. Zion Outfitters, just a short walk from our campsite, had laundry and showers. We didn't like the bees and squirrel’s that were so prevalent. The bees made it hard to enjoy our meals. At times we had to eat in our tent due to the bees swarming our food and us. We also didn't like how close our campsite was to other people (we typically camp off grid).
TIPS FOR CAMPING AT THE WATCHMAN CAMPGROUND
We booked our site five months in advance, and we got one of the last spots. We recommend booking at least 6-8 months out.
Bring bee traps to help with the bee problem.
There are some campsites with no shade. If you want shade make sure you bring an awning for those hot days.
Zion Outfitter has showers and laundry in close walking distance.
We checked in at noon which is standard check-in time. For lunch, we cooked at our campsite on the camp stove. We had mac & cheese with hot dogs. We then explored the visitor center, picked up Jr. Ranger Workbooks, got info about hikes and bus times and then set up camp
For dinner, we cooked at our campsite on the camp stove. We had grilled chicken, noodles and salad. Afterwards, we hiked Emerald Pools. It was an easy hike. Do this hike in the evening as it is the most popular hike at Zion. We did the entire hike up to the Upper Emerald Pool. It took us about 2 hours. The hike was beautiful, and our kids loved walking under a waterfall. We love doing this hike in the evening because it was nice and cool and once we reached the Upper Emerald Pool, the crowds had cleared and it was quiet and peaceful. When we got back to our campsite, we made a fire and did smores and hot chocolate/apple cider. We also prepped for the next day's adventures.
Cory woke up early and hiked Angle’s Landing while I stayed with the kids and cooked oatmeal and fruit. Angle’s Landing took Cory 2 ½ hours (6:30 AM-9 AM). He met a guy from the Netherlands who he hiked with the entire way. The views were absolutely stunning and worth the hike to the top. Do this hike early to avoid crowds and long lines around the chains.
For lunch, we had sandwiches, fruit, and chips at our campsite. After lunch, we hiked the Riverside Walk up to the Narrows and hung out by the river playing and throwing rocks. The Riverside Walk was crowded in the afternoon. There is a dirt trail near the river that is less crowded. It took us about 45 minutes to reach The Narrows. There is an area just before the trailhead to The Narrows that is less crowded where we were able to sit down and let the kids run around and play in the water. It is also not in the direct sun, so it was nice and cool.
For dinner, we made soup and grilled cheese on our camp stove. Afterwards, the kids worked on their Jr. Ranger Workbooks and we made a campfire for smores and hot chocolate/apple cider. We prepped for the next day adventure into The Narrows. We walked over and rented neoprene socks and water shoes at Zion Outfitters. They are located right outside of the walk-in entrance of the park.
For breakfast, we cooked eggs on our camp stove with fruit and yogurt. We then set out to hike The Narrows as a family. We started the hike around 8:30 AM (go early to beat the crowds). We brought our four-year-old a wetsuit and neoprene socks to help keep him warm during the hike. We carried our two other kids in hiking backpacks. The wooden hiking sticks we rented from Zion Outfitters were very helpful. You can also pick up sticks that people leave behind on the wall at the trailhead of the Narrows for free! We rented neoprene socks and water shoes at Zion Outfitters, but the moment we started hiking in the water, our shoes filled with water. I wouldn’t waste my money again. Just make sure you wear waterproof hiking boots or tennis shoe to protect your feet from the rocks.
We packed lunch to eat on our hike. We hiked 8 miles (which includes the Riverside Walk). It took us about 6 hours(9AM-3PM). It took us extra time hiking against the current. Also, on the way back crowds started to form, so we had to wait to cross fast currents or deep-water sections. We stopped a couple of times to sit down for lunch, resting (letting little ones out of packs to stretch legs) and to enjoy the view.
TIPS FOR HIKING THE NARROWS
If you are hiking The Narrows with kids, make sure to pack lots of water and snacks for the hike. Hiking in water is hard work!
Our kids get cold easily, so we bought a wetsuit and neoprene socks for the one hiking in the water and a hat and jackets for our other two. We all got hot hiking, later on, so we just packed them away in our packs at that point.
Be prepared for this hike. Having the right gear is essential such as wood hiking sticks and closed toe shoes.
For dinner, we cooked chicken, rice, and vegetables on the camp stove. Afterwards, the kids worked on their Jr. Ranger Workbooks and we made a campfire for smores, and hot chocolate/apple cider. We also prepped for the next day's adventures.
For breakfast, we cooked pancakes on the camp stove and had yogurt and fruit. After we cleaned up, the kids played around the campsite, and then we headed to Zion Outfitters to do laundry and take showers
For lunch, we ate at the Zion Canyon Brewery Company. Our son has a peanut allergy so we had to ask a lot of questions and the hostess and some of the staff kept having to run back to ask the chef questions. They were not extremely knowledgeable about food allergies, so it was a little frustrating, but the food and beer were good. We recommend the fish and chips. The staff could have been a little more helpful and friendly. Afer lunch we drove up to the east side of Zion and hiked around. We later met up with Arika from Zion Adventure Photog (highly recommend).
We went outside of the park to Fort Zion in Virgin for dinner. There were not many people there when we went as we went close to closing time and the service was quick; our food was out soon after ordering. The portions were BIG, huge burgers and a full potato for fries. Our three toddlers could have split one kid's meal; we had lots of leftovers. Everythings was so good. There was a small petting zoo there that cost $1/person to enter. We definitely recommend visiting Fort Zion. Afterwards, we drove back to the campsite. The kids worked on their Jr. Ranger books and we made a campfire for smores, and hot chocolate/apple cider. We also prepped for the next day's adventures.
Cory cooked breakfast with the kids at the campsite while I hiked Angle’s Landing. It took 2 hours (8AM-10AM). The views were absolutely stunning and worth the hike to the top. If you are afraid of heights or you have young children, there is a beautiful lookout spot at the top before you hit the chains. However, if you can, and you feel comfortable, you should definitely go up to the top. When I got back to the campsite we cleaned and packed up. The kids went to a morning ranger’s talk and earned their Jr. Ranger’s badges. Check-out was at 11:00 am.
TIPS FOR VISITING ZION
Make sure you bring your pass and driver’s license as you are exiting and re-entering the park.
Buy groceries outside of the park, as groceries inside of the park and around Springdale are expensive.
Get out early or later in the day to do hikes. Do classes during the day to avoid crowds.
Catch the first bus at (6 AM) to do early morning hiking or hike -late evening to avoid the massive crowds on the hiking trails.
Spend time on the east side of the park. There are far fewer people over there.
Go prepared with the right equipment along with lots of water and snacks on hikes.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TRIP
Hiking the Narrows
Hiking Angel’s Landing
Witnessing such an beautiful and unique landscape
Getting to experience Zion with our kids
HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE KIDS
Getting their Jr. Ranger Badges
Hiking the Narrows
The shuttle rides
Zion is absolutely stunning; it’s unlike anything else so it’s worth the trip. The trails are crowded so go early or later in the day. Our kids loved this place from the Jr. Ranger Program to the unique hikes and all the wildlife around the park. Ask locals like Arika for advice and secret hikes. Have fun!!!!