Zion National Park – My Favorite National Park
I have been to a lot of national parks. They all have their different things to see and unique landscapes, all gorgeous in their own way. But if someone pinned me down and asked me what my all time favorite national park was, I’d confidently say, Zion National Park! We had the best time at Zion National Park, and I can’t wait to go back. We made so many great family memories there. Why is it my favorite you ask? Here is a list of reasons why I love Zion National Park, and why I think you should definitely add Zion National Park to your summer bucket list.
We slept in a motorhome while visiting Zion National Park. In my opinion, staying in a motorhome is a dream compared to sleeping in a tent. We loved camping at Zion National Park because we felt like they made things convenient and easy for their campers in RV’s. We stayed at Watchman Campground . It was $30 a night for RV’s and $20 a night for tents. The thing that I appreciated the most about this campground was the 24 hour plug-ins that were available. It was so nice to be able to cook or watch a movie on OUR schedule, instead of on the rigid schedule of the campground. Nothing is worse than going to use the microwave and realizing that you can’t because you’re 10 minutes passed the designated generator usage time. Although they don’t allow generators, it didn’t matter to us because of the convenient plug-ins.
The view from our campsite was unreal. Just look at that massive red rock mountain that greeted us every morning when we woke up. So pretty! Watchman Campground is very close to the Visitor’s Center, which I really appreciated. I like the convenience of being able to easily ask questions to the experts who work there when needed. You can make reservations up to six months in advance for this campground. Reservations are a must, as spots fill up very quickly. If you can’t get a reservation at first, don’t give up. Keep checking back. People cancel their reservations regularly. We sometimes got campground spots the day before or sometimes even the morning of during our two-month motorhome road trip. Sometimes you have to wake up early to stand in line and get a reservation, but it is possible to get them if you’re willing to sacrifice some sleep.
Free Shuttle Bus
When I am traveling with Jimmy, convenience is key. Zion National Park has created a convenient and easy way to get around the park. There is a free shuttle bus that all visitors can use. This unlimited service that is included in our entrance fee, made all the difference in our visit to Zion National Park because it reduced stress and gave us peace of mind. It runs quite regularly all day long, and we never were waiting long for a ride, maybe 5 minutes at the max. You don’t have to worry about driving yourself, finding parking, none of that. You just hop on their free shuttle bus and hop on and off as you please. It’s amazing!
Another thing that we loved about the shuttle bus is that we could hook our stroller to the front of the shuttle bus on the bike rack. It fit perfectly and was so convenient. It kept us from having to fold the stroller every time that we got on and off. Maneuvering around Zion National Park was a breeze, and I know it is fully because of the shuttle bus.
Gorgeous Desert Landscape
Maybe it is because I didn’t grow up in southern Utah desert type of landscape so it is new and different for me, but I think Zion National Park is absolutely gorgeous. I wouldn’t normally think that rocks would be THAT pretty, but at Zion, they are. Everywhere that I went, I was in awe at the massive red rocks and the gorgeous scenery that surrounded me. The depth of color in the red rocks is so visually pleasing. I used to think that where I grew up, in Northern Idaho, with the lush greenery, was the prettiest type of landscape, but this southern Utah red rock I’d say is a very close second. Who knew that a desert could be so stunning?
A Smaller Sized Park
I really enjoyed the small size of Zion National Park. It didn’t feel overwhelming to me to be there. When we went to Yosemite, I felt so overwhelmed with where to stay, what area of the park we should focus on, where to go, etc, etc. etc. At Zion, the small size of the park was easy to navigate and no matter where you camp, everything is fairly close together. Everything that you want to do there is never too far away. It was nice not having to waste a ton of time traveling to and from every activity. At Zion, travel time is reduced because everything is in close proximity to each other, which allows for more fun outdoor time. I’d say with a child, spending 3-4 days at Zion National Park will allow you to see everything that you want at a relaxed pace. If you are going without children, then you could probably see everything in 2 days.
I might be in the minority here, but I love the warm weather at Zion National Park. It was so beautiful when we were there, and I couldn’t get enough of the sunshine. We visited in mid-September and I thought the weather was perfect. Nate might argue that it was too hot, but for me, the weather was great. I’d much rather be a little hot than a little cold.
Convenient Snack Stops
Zion National Park always felt really easy. Everything that we tried to do worked out without much struggle. It was nice. Whenever we needed a snack or drink, especially for Jimmy, we either found it easily, or we were just a short shuttle bus away from getting it. Things were convenient which I really appreciate as a mom traveling with my child. After hiking The Emeralds, we charged ourselves up with a small snack at The Zion Lodge. It was nice to sit in the shade, hydrate, and relax, while enjoying great views of Zion National Park.
Family Friendly Hikes and Bike Trails
There are so many family friendly hikes at Zion National Park. Many of them are fine for strollers too!
This trail is gorgeous. We did the Pa’rus Trail late one night during sunset and enjoyed having the trail all to ourselves. This trail is perfect for a stroller, and is great for bike riding too! Completely paved, wide, and flat, it’s the perfect hike for families with kids, the elderly, and people who want to take it easy. We saw a lot of wildlife when we walked this trail. Walking on Pa’rus Trail was a relaxing way to end the day.
Riverside Walk is also flat and paved. This is the perfect hike for families traveling with young kids and would 100% accommodate a stroller. The Riverside Walk is not good for bike riders. The Riverside Walk is also the entrance to the longer and more strenuous hike, The Narrows. You must complete The Riverside Walk before you enter the canyon to hike The Narrows. We brought our stroller with us when we hiked The Narrows and used it on the Riverside Walk. Then when we were starting The Narrows hike, we found a tree to lock our stroller up to with our bike lock. We were so happy to have our stroller with us AFTER hiking both The Riverside Walk and The Narrows because by that time Jimmy was extremely tired and needed a break. In fact, he fell asleep in the stroller on the way home that afternoon.
The Emerald Pools hike is breathtaking. We only completed the hike to the lower pool as the other pools were closed due to flooding. Even with the closure, this hike was worth doing. I loved the sprinkling waterfall at the top and the gorgeous views. This one is a must when visiting Zion National Park! It’s a bit more strenuous then the other two mentioned above, but still very doable for families. We took our stroller with us, but it was hard to push at times. We had our jogging stroller with large wheels, so it got over the rocks and bumps rather easily compared to the average stroller, but not without some effort. However, It really was only the last little section that we felt like the stroller physically couldn’t make it through. Because of that, we decided to park it and have Jimmy walk the rest of the way up. We were really glad that we took the stroller with us because it would have been very tiring in the heat to have him walk the whole hike.
This reason might be silly, but it gave me peace of mind as a mom traveling with a toddler. I am always paranoid about bears when we go camping and especially when we are out hiking. I always talk about how we need to buy bear spray (even though I’ve never actually bought it) and learn the rules of what to do when you encounter a bear. I think it is a little scarier when you have a little one involved and you are responsible for keeping not only yourself safe but your child too. Well, you don’t have to worry at Zion National Park because there are no bears there. We did see some deer right outside our campsite that Jimmy was very intrigued by, but that was it. So nice to not have to stress. And, also nice not to worry about locking up your trash at night!
Hiking the Narrows
As I talked about in my last blog post here, hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park was one of my favorite hikes that I’ve ever done. It is one of my favorite THINGS that I’ve ever done. It is probably up there in my top ten favorite life moments. It is that memorable. When you go to Zion National Park, make sure to hike The Narrows. Don’t miss it!
I hope you love Zion National Park as much as I do! As much as I joke that I wish I was European, the United States sure has some breathtaking scenery that really can not be beat. Have you been to Zion National Park? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!