Saturday, February 29, 2020

Visiting Zion, Bryce and North Rim Grand Canyon with Kids

The summer of 2016 we took a road trip with the kids who were not quite 3 and 6 years old. It was adventurous and we definitely had some lows, but I am glad we went. My only regret is not getting longer at these amazing parks.

It was 9 days total with 1-1.5 days at each park. The longest driving day was 6 hours which worked with lots of audio books. If I did it again, I would want 2-3 days in each park (maybe more for Zion).
Lodging plan was 1 night in Las Vegas, 2 nights in Panguitch outside Bryce, 2 nights in Kenab outside Zion, 2 nights in Freedonia (which was not as close to the north rim as I would have liked) and 1 in Barstow.

This was our itinerary.

Day 1: Drive to Las Vegas (about 6 hours) If you leave early enough, you get some exploring time around the city. We just wandered Caeser's Place, the Venetian and the Belagio. There are so manu options for kids that we found, but here are some of the cheaper ones and ones outside of the main choices.
* M&M Store 9AM-12AM
The Chocolate Factory 8 AM- 8PM
Fall of Atlantis at Caeaser's Palace has a free 11 minute show on the hour from 11AM-10PM
* Explore the Street Scene of the Grand Canal Shops in the Venetian. You can even include a gondola ride!
Belagio Gardens were free and the fountains of Belagio had a free show.
* The volcano at the Mirage starting at 6 on the hour.
Children's Park at LV Town Square Maze, Tree House Sprinklers 10AM-10PM
Aquarium at Mandalay Bay 10AM-10PM (8 Sun) $22/$15/Free
Las Vegas Natural History Museum (Reciprocal agreement with the SBMNH!) $12/$6/Free 9AM-4PM
*  Nevada State Railroad Museum $10/$5/Free 9-3:30 7 mile train ride

Day 2: Additional Time in Las Vegas and drive to Panguitch, UT (3.5 hours)
We stayed at a great Air BNB because of the ages of our kids.

Day 3: Bryce Canyon (35 minutes)
We were less adventurous here than later in the trip because we were uncertain how the kid would do.
* Drive the Scenic Byway. There are many looks out worth getting out of your car.
* Hike the Navajo Loop trail (1.3 miles) or Queen's Garden Trail (1.8 miles). I can't remember which one we did.
* Visit Mossy Cave (less than 1 mile).

If we had been there longer (or with older kids), we would have added the Rim Trail (5.5 mile) and Bristlecone Loop (1 mile) as well as a ranger talk.

Day 4: Additional Time in Bryce and drive to Kanab (1:15)
For the middle part of the trip, we chose a more expensive place with a pool!

Day 5: Zion (35 minutes)
* Drive through the tunnel!
* Walk to Emerald Pools (1.2 mile) to see the pools and waterfall.
* Hike to Weeping Rock (.5 miles) which has a view of the waterfall and the canyon.
* Walk the Temple of Sinawava trail (1mile hike all paved) We ended up hiking some of the Narrows and then wading in the river.
* Complete the junior ranger program.

If we had stayed longer or with older kids, I would have added Pa’rus Trail to Canyon Junction (3.4 miles) and spent more time in the visitor center as well as doing more ranger talks. The rangers here were engaging!

Day 6: Additional Time in Zion and drive to Fredonia (20 minutes)
This was not close enough to the North Rim, but we stayed on the quirkiest little farm run by sisters. My youngest got chased by a turkey larger than she was, adding to the family lore.

Day 7: North Rim of the Grand Canyon (1:45)
It is especially easy to choose short trails here that are the right length for kids. However, this was the only time I was worried about safety. The 3 year old stayed in a carrier and the 6 year old held a hand basically the whole time.
* Walk to Bright Angel Point (.5 mile).
* Hike Cliff Springs Trail (1 mile), a nice wooded trail past a spring.
* Walk the Cape Royale Trail (.6 miles), an easy paved hike with great views.
* Walk to Roosevelt Point  (.2 miles), a ver short path with wooded trails.

If we had stayed longer, we would have checked out the Grand Canyon CookOut Experience. I do feel like we did all that worked for our aged kids in one day.

Day 8: Drive Freedonia to Barstow (5:15) 

Day 9: Drive Barstow to Santa Barbara (3:30)

National Parks with Kids
Las Vegas:
North Rim:

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