Spring or Fall Zion Itinerary with Older Kids
I love sharing different perspectives when it comes to visiting Zion & Southern Utah. Since I am a local, I tend to see this area a little differently than someone who has never visited before. I am so excited to bring you this itinerary from Domonique of Simple Proof Travel. If you are contemplating a trip to Zion in the spring or fall with older kids (ages 8-15), this itinerary will help get your trip planning started. Read all the details below.
As avid National Park enthusiasts, we often center our domestic travel around parks we’d like to visit and Zion National Park has been at the top of that list a very long time! Too hot for me in the summer, a fall trip to Zion was the perfect time for us to visit. It was clear, crisp, cool and most importantly, not crowded. An unexpected treat was seeing the last of the fall color in the area. I suppose because it’s a desert we didn’t anticipate much fall foliage, but we were pleasantly surprised by all the golds and yellows on the trees. It made for the perfect color explosion against the red rock landscape.
WHO: Me, Mr. Simple and our 3 kiddos (15, 12, 8)
WHEN: November 2018
HOW LONG: 3 nights
WHERE WE STAYED: Desert Pearl Inn
TIPS: Booking hotels can be tricky for a family of five and we often have to book two rooms now. Desert Pearl Inn was a pretty good fit for us. We reserved two rooms with a king bed and sofa bed in each as well as a kitchenette. There was a restaurant on site where we had a nice buffet breakfast each day. Being right on the shuttle stop for the Springdale route to the park entrance was also really convenient.
We drove to Springdale from Las Vegas in about 2 1/2 hours. It was an easy and beautiful drive. We checked into our rooms at the Desert Pearl about 2pm, quickly unpacked and were excited to head into the park for the first time. Because it was close to 3pm, we took a chance on driving into Zion instead of taking the shuttle. We had heard how difficult the parking can be, but lucked out with a parking spot probably because it was later in the day.
Our first stop at any National Park is always the Visitor’s Center. We have a tradition to walk around, reading signs, talking with rangers about hikes and vista points we shouldn’t miss and picking up our Junior Ranger Guides. Each of the kids also has a National Park Passport that they proudly stamp whenever we visit a new National Park. They’ve been to at least 10 parks in their short little lives (lucky kiddos). They tease me because I act like their national park passports are of equal value as their actual passports. When travel is at the core of your family’s values, these little books are our family history.
After familiarizing ourselves with the park, it was time to meet Arika of ZION ADVENTURE PHOTOG, our photographer. I found Arika on Instagram, following her adventures in Southern Utah with three littles. Her photography is beautiful and with holiday cards around the corner, I couldn’t resist reaching out to see if she could capture some memories of our family while we were in Zion. She’s the warmest person who immediately connected with my three kids. I knew we were on to something special. Hopping aboard the Zion Shuttle, we drove up the canyon a few stops until we reached the Court of the Patriarchs. Here we did a short hike SAND BENCH LOOP, looping around under the three massive peaks each named after the biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
When we first entered Zion National Park, as most people, we were immediately struck by the red sandstone and the peaks rising quickly out of the river canyon. This was being made even more special at this time of day by the glow of the setting sun. A short trail, that can be enjoyed by any age, and the quintessential start to a wonderful few days of exploring.
After saying our goodbyes to Arika, we took her recommendation and had a fun dinner at Oscar’s Cafe. Located about a mile outside of the park, Oscar’s was a lively spot with something for everyone on their menu. We sat outside and though it was a chilly night, their heaters kept us nice and warm. Our family had shrimp tacos, ribs, and macaroni and cheese, there are also burgers, salads and a famous Volcano Brownie Sundae!
This is the bucket list day. After letting the kids sleep in a little later than we planned, we had breakfast at the Desert Pearl Inn. It was a chilly morning, getting us all nourished up and warm from the inside our was critical for the day ahead.
PHOTOS BY DOMONIQUE OF THE SIMPLE PROOF
There are a few hikes in Zion that get all the attention. One is Angels Landing (not for young children, the faint of heart or the acrophobic) and The Narrows. In my mind, The Narrows is why we were here. I wanted to take the kids on a different sort of adventure, something out of our normal hiking, biking, camping. The Narrows was it. Zion Canyon is the gorge created by the Virgin River. The Narrows as it’s called, is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Upstream from the Visitors Center and the last stop on the shuttle, many visitors never venture into this section of the canyon. Why you ask? Because you have to walk through the river!