Zion National Park was definitely the part of our trip that I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint in the least. This was the part of the trip that I really planned out last summer when we were in Utah, even though I had no idea if or when we would be back!
That Wednesday morning dawned early (okay.. we were up hours before dawn) so that we could head to Springdale, UT to meet two guides to go canyoneering.
Zion Adventure Company
I spent a lot of time researching the best company to use for canyoneering since we would have kids from age 7 and grandparents along for the trip. The more I researched, the more I kept coming back to Zion Adventure Company and after a couple of phone calls to ask questions, I was ready to book! ZAC offers several different options, but after comparing prices and activities we decided to go with the Family Adventure Day for a full day.
We met the guides at the shop and because the morning was chilly, they quickly invited us inside for a safety talk and provided us with the recommended gear. Donned with boots and water proof socks (and extra layers for the kids) we loaded back up to head to Zion.
First Glimpse of Zion
The drive through the park was breathtaking. As you drive through Zion you are greeted with beautiful views in every direction. The highlight of the drive through for the kids was driving through the 1.1 mile tunnel through the mountain that was completed in the 1930s. Unlike most of the tunnels they have driven through, this one has no lights other than the natural light coming in from a few openings cut into the rock!
On the other side of the tunnel, we exited the park and found a place to park alongside our guides.
Family Adventure Day
Here we donned our backpacks, grabbed our lunches, put on our scuttle butts (yes, that is really a thing) and started the trek towards the canyons. The mile long trek was cool, but seeing the snow over the canyon and park was a beautiful way to start the day. We were all excited to take a short break before entering the narrow opening into the canyons.
By mid-morning we made it to our first rappelling stop. Our guides led our first safety lesson and then we all took turns rappelling a 20-foot rappel. The kids were impressive. Maybe the rock climbing lessons at the YMCA in Ohio really did stick with them 😊. This was definitely the highlight of my day!
One of their favorite things was sliding down one of the rocks into the canyon below. They learned how to use those scuttle butts to keep from hurting their bottoms. And they proceeded to slide back and forth on as many rocks as they could (and on the snow too).
We stopped for lunch before our longest rappel of the day and picnicked in the sun, losing our coats to backpacks and enjoying the beautiful weather. We also figured out how to use natures’ best bathrooms 😉 while waiting to rappel.
After lunch we had a 90 foot rappel that made everyone a little nervous, except for the two youngest girls, and surprisingly everyone handled it like champs!
This was the drop that brought out everyone’s fears and insecurities, but between that rappel and the end of the day everyone was able to face their fears and embrace the fun of the adventure. Our day ended with a few rope drops and a couple of shorter rappels. As well as rock climbing through some narrow canyons.
When we exited the canyons, we had to make the uphill trek back to the car. This was probably the hardest part of the day. Everyone was tired and the most fun parts of our hike were behind us. Our day ended up being much longer than anticipated, but our guides were still patient with us!
Despite the weariness climbing up the hill, when our guides offered to return with a car to pick us up, most of the kids said no and instead raced the car back to where we parked!
We drove back through Zion to Springdale and made our way back home, stopping for dinner on the way! By the time we made it back to the house everyone was ready to relax in the hot tub.
Zion Day Two- A Short Hike
I still had not had my fill of Zion’s beauty. The next morning my mom offered to keep the kids in the pool at the AirBnb and I quickly accepted. We offered them the chance to go, but all of them preferred a rest day at home, even without electronics. My dad drove E and I back to Zion. He dropped us on the far side of the tunnel through the mountain to hike to the Canyon Overlook.
If you are familiar with Zion National Park then you have probably heard about the infamous Angels Landing hike. We decided early in our planning that this was not a hike for the kids to go on with us. Within the month prior to our visits there were two deaths at Angel’s Landing. So it was not a hike that this mom was the least bit drawn to. The day before the guides made some recommendations for hikes to us. They said they preferred the Canyon Overlook over Angels Landing due to the smaller crowds and views just as memorable.
They were right and after a short hike out we found ourselves looking out over the Canyon below. It was breathtaking and once again pictures just do not do it justice.
My only regret was not forcing the kids to come along with us. They would have loved climbing over rocks and ducking into caves to make their way out to the Overlook.
After our short hike, we walked the road to meet my dad. Since our phones did not work on the road, we just walked until we saw him again.
Then we made our way back through the tunnel. We took pictures of the overlook from below and of the tunnel we had driven back through!
Zion was definitely my favorite part of our whole trip. If we go back we will definitely do more hiking and spend more time in the park.
My key takeaways:
- Plan ahead. Shuttle tickets can be hard to come by. There are parts of the park that can only be reached by shuttle. We got them for afternoons, but no mornings!
- Canyoneering was a fantastic splurge. If you visit and can afford an adventure like this, I would definitely check out Zion Adventure Company.
- There are so many incredible things to do here, but you can see amazing views just driving through the park. If you enjoy hiking, definitely plan to spend several days.