Zion National Park – Utah

Yesterday we visited Zion National Park.

We got out of bed around 7:00AM, which is early for us. We are not super early risers. I had read that we should arrive between 8-9AM to be able to get a parking spot. You can park in Springdale and take a shuttle if you want or are unable to get a spot at Zion.

We arrived around 9:30AM. All the spots were taken. Lucky for us, we were able to park in the oversized vehicle lot. Our passenger van most places consider either a passenger vehicle or an oversized vehicle.

The cost to get in Zion is $35 per vehicle. We got in free thanks to Cherish’s 4th grade pass.

We first went to the information desk at the visitor center to find out which hiking trails would be good for small children. We were directed to three different trails.

We went to the gift shop to let the kids purchase postcards. They have a slew of pen pals, and all our older kids love sending mail to family and friends.

At the last park we visited, Mesa Verde, we tried the Junior Ranger program. It is a really neat program. Each kid is given a pamphlet with activities and questions pertaining to that specific park. The child finds the answers and fills out the pamphlet along the way. He or she turns in the pamphlet when complete. Then each child is given a badge from a park ranger.

Our kids enjoyed participating at Mesa Verde, but we have decided not to continue to participate in the program. Our kids felt like they were so busy trying to get all the answers that they couldn’t truly look, learn and soak everything in. And, as parents, helping 9 children find answers and complete pamphlets added a stressful element to something that was meant to be fun. As an alternative, we offered to buy each kid a national parks passport book. For those you purchase a sticker at each park for $1.99 to put in your book. Then you use an ink stamp at each park to stamp your book. Our kids loved this idea, so that is what we are doing.

The first trail we walked was Pa’rus Trail. It was 1.75 miles and took about an hour. It was very easy walking, mostly flat land. The landscape was beautiful. I pushed River in our jog stroller, and Ryan carried Bravely in a baby carrier.

We stopped for a snack lunch and potty break after the first trail. We then rode a shuttle to the next trail we wanted to hike, which was the Upper Emerald Pool Trail. It was a 1 mile hike that took about an hour.

It was what I consider more of a true hike. There were a lot of ups and downs, it was fairly narrow and there were drop offs. I did push the jog stroller. It wasn’t super easy, but was still enjoyable. We had to watch our little kids closely and keep them close by to make sure no one ventured over the side. All the kids seemed to enjoy this trail, and many of our girls said this one was their favorite.

The views were amazing. There was a waterfall near the end. It was more of a sprinkling of water, but it was still neat to see.

There were deer and squirrels that would come up very close. This squirrel almost let Bravely touch it when age she held out her hand. She loved it.

After we finished the second trail we stopped for a snack, water and another potty break.

Our little ones were needing to rest their legs, though they never complained.

We then rode a shuttle to our third and final hiking trail, The Riverside Walk. The shuttles had a lot of seating and would be very easy for 95 percent of people, couples and families to ride. We are not in that 95%. Ha! It wasn’t bad, but we really had to hustle on, keep headcount, separate in groups and share seats. There was a wrack to put strollers on the front of each shuttle.

Our little girls loved riding the shuttle. Treasure kept asking when we’d ride the school bus again.

Bravely really loved the shuttle ride and cuddle time with her mommy.

The last trail we hiked was about 2 miles and took about an hour and a half.

It was an easier hike than the second trail but still had some ups and downs. It felt safer and easy going with kids.

This trail went alongside a river. It was a beautiful view, the best of the day I thought.

Oh, our kids wore their Sibling Squad shirts I had made for them, and Ryan and I wore our Squad Leader shirts he had made for us. We had probably 50-100 people comment on the shirts. People loved them. One lady with an English accent thought our family was adorable and asked to take a photo. We find all this hilarious because we are just used to having a big family and living our lives. But we are also used to getting many reactions, questions and comments everywhere we go. We enjoy meeting so many different people and having conversations. And we’ve become quick at throwing a witty comeback to witty comments we get. It’s our life, and we like to have fun with it.

River is just starting to understand what a river is. She loved that we walked alongside the river and that she got a photo taken by it. She also loved that people kept saying, “river”.

About halfway through this hike, our little ones really started asking if we were about to go home (the RV) or ride the shuttle or even just sit down. Those little legs were getting tired!

We encouraged them, and they really did great through the end.

We took a shuttle ride back to the visitor center, got in our van and went to Chipotle for a big carb and protein dinner.

It was a great day, a first hike for most of our kids, and something we’d do again. Zion National Park is a great place to visit!

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