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Young children in Zion

Georgetown, Kentucky
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Young children in Zion

I am just looking into a possible trip to Zion, the North Rim Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon in May. I have a reservation at the North Rim Lodge on May 20, so I would be looking to work the dates around that. For Zion, I am looking into Pioneer Lodge in Springdale and for Bryce we would try to get a room at Ruby's Inn. We haven't booked airfare but Las Vegas looks like the best option in terms of costs. How many nights would you recommend at each place? I was thinking 3 nights for Zion, 1 night for the North Rim, and 3 nights for Bryce.

We will be traveling with ou two kids ages 17 months and 4 years. How does the shuttle work? I would assume car seats won't be required? Will we be able to take a backpack carrier and stroller?

I am also considering looking for a house to rent in a central place and making day trips. But I am guessing that would be too much back I forth.

Kipling. SK
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for Zion National Park
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1. Re: Young children in Zion

Las Vegas is the best choice for an entry/exit point because it would provide the shortest drive times from Bryce, North Rim, and Zion.

Considering that you are unlikely to be doing any of the long Zion hikes as a family, three nights in Springdale would be all right.

General advice on the forum is to allow one night to see Bryce, because you can get around to the viewpoints rather quickly. That being said you can either take three nights at Bryce, and enjoy some of the sights outside of the park as a day trip. The outside of the park daytrip that everyone will recommend will be to drive the www.scenicbyway12.com route, either to Boulder. or to Torrey, and back again. A possible option to this plan would be to stay in Torrey for a night, and take in Capitol Reef NP.

The second choice to three nights in Bryce would be to trim your stay down to two nights in Bryce, and two nights at the North Rim. Yet another option to this plan would be to split the two nights at North Rim to a night at the North Rim, and a night at Page/Lake Powell. This last part might work well for you if you were only able to secure one night at the North Rim lodging.

Lots of possibilities. Make sure to ask questions about any aspect of your planning if the need arises.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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2. Re: Young children in Zion

There are no seatbelts on the shuttle for a car seat. It will be too crowded and take off to quickly anyways to lug one around. You'll have no problem just holding the kids in your lap. And yes, you'll be able to take a stroller or a backpack carrier.

I would not recommend doing day trips particularly with children that small. That's just too much time in the car going back and forth.

Georgetown, Kentucky
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3. Re: Young children in Zion

Thanks for the input. I just have one night at the North Rim. I will watch for another opening. Then probably plan for 2 or 3 nights at Bryce. One night stays are hard with all the baby gear.

As far as hiking, 5 miles round trip seems to be our upper limit with the little ones. And that is 5 miles at a very slow pace as the older one stops to look at everything through his binoculars and poking each rock he sees with his hiking stick. :-). So we might do one nice hike in the 3-5 mile range but otherwise short walks would be our focus.

Edited: 05 February 2014, 19:56
Kipling. SK
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for Zion National Park
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4. Re: Young children in Zion

At Zion, Parus Trail and Riverside Walk are two flat, short, paved, and safe hikes. I have not been down Lower Emerald Pools or a while, but it is another fairly safe hike with minimal edges and where the stroller should work for most parts. Grotto trail is alright as well The other hikes in the park start to involve more edges, elevation gains/losses, and uneven terrain where you will have to use much more caution with the little ones. A couple of trails that you can look at that will require mild caution is Canyon Overlook and Kayenta Trail

At Bryce, the rim trail at the main amphitheatre and all of the overlooks along the park drive and canyon rim will be very possible. It will be possible to do some hiking below the rim at the main amphitheatre at Gueens Garden trail, but definitely not with the stroller.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Young children in Zion

Lower Emerald is a nice wide and mostly paved trail, with enough of a slope that you know you are hiking. Though there was a big to-do a few years back about some child falling off the trail and down one section. There was quite a little discussion on TA about whether it was safe for kids or not. I was on the yes, take the kids, side, but there were some quite adamant that it was unsafe. I don't know, I took my at the time 4 y/o and 6 y/o and never gave it an instance of worry.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: Young children in Zion

We took our children, ages 8,6, and 18 months in addition with another family who had a 3, 6 and 9 year old and all navigated Lower and Upper Emerald Pools just fine. Weeping rock, Kayenta and Riverwalk trails we also enjoyed. Their favorite hike by far was to Pine Creek Waterfall. Off the beaten path by ourselves and they loved the scrambling.

We've done Bryce as well with the same age children. Care must always be taken near the rim and we successfully hiked down and back up the Navajo trail. It was hard for them but they were proud of themselves. Their favorite hike at Bryce was the Mossy Cave hike. We went much further beyond the waterfall there and they enjoyed it as they walked in the water the entire way.

As always, our hard and fast rule is that the kids must always be within sight of us and if we know that we are hiking with ledges or any type of drop off they must hold our hands, be within arms reach and walk on the inside of the trail. We always go over the rules before starting off on any hike.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Young children in Zion

With all the National Parks, it depends on what you want out of the vacation.

In the case of Zion, keep in mind that depending on the trails, there are sometimes severe drop-offs. Pa'rus (as long as you don't mind dogs and bikes) and Riverside would probably be fine, but after that you'll have to keep the 4 year old either within immediate grabbing distance or strapped in. Emerald Pools can be deceptive. It's quite easy, and there's plenty of walking room, but it has some pretty dangerous dropoffs, and I saw a young man who got too close to the edge almost get into serious trouble on the innocent looking Lower Pools trail when I was there. There are also some trails like the Canyon Overlook in East Zion that you wouldn't be able to do.

Basically, it depends on how long your 4 year old can tolerate being strapped in and not able to walk around.

Just something else to think about: I know holding off for about 10 years seems like a very long time, but for something like this, might you not want to wait until your kids are old enough to know and appreciate what they're looking at, and old enough for you as a family to have more options?

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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8. Re: Young children in Zion

IMO, it depends much more on your kids and what you, as parents, are comfortable doing. I think you can certainly have a meaningful family vacation in the Southwest National Parks with young kids. (Better than Disney any day, in my book, and my now-15yo son would agree.) While many people may assume that these parks are "dangerous" for young kids, the reality is that it's very, very rare for them to get hurt. It's much more likely to be adults who get hurt, to be frank.

I like nmaw's suggestions above. I wouldn't have hesitated taking my 4yo on the Canyon Overlook but one of the parents would need to be confident about taking the 17mo in the carrier. And, no, I don't think the 4 yo would need to be "strapped in."

Georgetown, Kentucky
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9. Re: Young children in Zion

Thanks for all the recommendations. We are still working out the itinerary as we are hoping to have some family traveling with us. Right now we have 2 rooms reserved at the Zion Park Motel May 9-15, then a frontier cabin at the North Rim Lodge May 15-17. We may need one more room so I am checking frequently for cancellations there. We will plan to visit Bryce Canyon as a day trip. Looks like the lodging there is really expensive and/or booked for the dates we are considering

10. Re: Young children in Zion

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