Zion National Park is a great place to create family memories, rejuvenate, or just have a blast. Many of our guests comment that when they arrive, they have no idea what to do first. This is the Lodge at Red River Ranch’s play-by-play guide to a Zion vacation. Take whatever suggestions you like, and have fun.
Zion National Park is most commonly entered from the south, near Saint George. As you near the park boundaries, you get to pass through the villages and gift shops that have sprung up to support the tourist trade. There are some very excellent restaurants, bistros and cafes among the towns. It’s fun to spend a day window-shopping among the different stores.
Zion charges a nominal fee of 25 dollars to enter the park proper. During the height of the tourist season, consider parking outside of the park boundaries; it can get crowded in there. Your first stop should be at the Visitor’s Center. The building itself a remarkable example of environmental and conservationist architecture, and it has lots of information to enhance your trip.
In order to tour Zion Canyon, you will need to board the shuttle system. The buses reduce congestion in the canyon, and help regulate pollution. The first stop on the bus route is the Zion Human History Museum. If you want to know the history of the Zion region, check this museum out. A film about Zion National Park plays every half hour. It’s a great way to put context into your trip.
Throughout the park, ranger stations provide additional information about the many aspects of Zion. The Park Rangers can usually answer any question you might have about the landscape, history, etc. of the park. If you want to know something, just ask.
Various stops along Zion Canyon allow you to get out and explore. On of the Lodge at Red River Ranch’s favorite hikes is Emerald Pools. This short hike is easy enough to take kids on; part of it is even paved. Upper Emerald Pool is almost a magical place, it is so green and vibrate. After the hike, walk across the street to the Zion Lodge and buy some ice cream at the gift shop.
If you want a little more adventure, hike Angel’s Landing. This is a perennial favorite among park visitors. It is more strenuous, but the views are worth every effort. Many people try to time the hike in order to catch the sunset or sunrise.
After you’ve had your fill of the towering stone monoliths of Zion Canyon, head back to the visitor’s center. You have to drive the Zion- Mount Carmel Scenic Highway. Everybody, especially kids, gets a kick out of driving through the one-mile tunnel caved into the mountain. The tunnel is a triumph of early 20th Century achievement, and it opens up to more great views as you climb in elevation. You can continue on this road and exist the park on the east side, or you can backtrack and exist to the south.
A trip to Zion is not worth taking if you can’t stay for a couple days. Many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and other types of accommodation can be found in the area. Zion Lodge is also a good place to stay. Camping is a great option if you want to save some money, and have an all round good time.
Of course, we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch haven’t even touched on most of the experiences you can have in Zion National Park. Whole books have been devoted to this subject. If you need more advise, ask the park rangers, or talk to us.