If you had half a day in Zion National Park...what would you do?
Even with the snow on the ground, there is still plenty of hiking to be done!
I found myself asking that question on Halloween Day. We were down visiting family and really wanted to visit Zion. My husband and I hadn't been to the main entrance of the park for years and years, so we felt it was the perfect time to go since it wasn't blazing hot.
We thought it was going to be cold, so we all packed long sleeves and jackets. Luckily, it ended up being a 70 degree kind of day.
Since we had to wait for a shuttle we decided to take a quick tour of the Zion Human History Museum. I love maps. Especially a topographical version. It was super cool to see all the places we've hiked in Zion from above. We are pointing to Angel's Landing hike. If you haven't been, I'd suggest you put it on your bucket list.
My little Aiko (3) thought the shuttles were the coolest thing in the world. They were pretty packed, so we stood and watched the rocks go by.
I don't recall ever visiting the Main Lodge...honestly, it was slightly disappointing. Sometimes, I just want a good tourist place to go and buy an Christmas ornament from. I didn't find much of a selection there. (Never forget your Ergo Baby Carrier either.)
After visiting the Lodge, we headed down to our first Hike.
1 hour | 1.2 miles
Now that we have kids, we went on hikes I'd never been too. My husband grew up hiking all over Zion National Park, so he'd hiked the Lower Emerald Pool Trail many times. First time for me.
This hike is actually a paved trail and we saw lots of strollers making the trip. Aiko even walked most of the hike...slowly, since everything was so exciting.
I love being in Zion National Park. One minute you are in the middle of a beautiful red desert and all of a sudden you are next to a giant waterfall.
.5 hour | 1 mile
We decided to continue on hiking to The Grotto Trail instead of taking the same trail back.
It's another easy hike, a little rocky and not stroller friendly. But we made it just fine with babies on our backs.
Luckily, it was such a nice day, we ended up stripping off all of our layers and getting a sun tan!
The Grotto (above) is the perfect place to picnic. We hadn't packed anything but Clif Bars and water, if I had planned a little bit better. But it was cold in the shade.
We jumped on the shuttle for our next quick stop!
Temple of Sinawava
However long you want it.
The last stop on a shuttle leads you to the entrance of the Narrows and the Temple of Sinawava. We decided to do a short walk to the river and gaze up at the giant cliffs.
I reallllllly wanted to do the hike there, but again, with babies and lunch getting close, we had to once again board the shuttle.
Luckily, everyone was still smiling!
We decided to get in one more hike before we left.
Weeping Rock Trail
.5 hour | .4 miles
Again, this was a new hike for me!
Just a short, steep walk up a paved trail to see water seeping out of the rocks.
My father in law says that it takes a million years for the water to come through the rocks.
It was a pretty busy hike, but well worth the small crowds of people.
We when started the trail I could smell tortillas...like a tortilla that's warming up. I looked down and saw a few guys eating tortillas that they had made with their little camping kits. It smelled amazing! I knew it was time to leave and get some lunch.
You probably can't see it very well, but just to the left of the arch there is a little dwelling. My mother in law said when she was a kid, they used to climb up and play inside the dwelling. (You can't do that anymore.) The Native Americans used to store seeds during the winter on the higher ground and it used to have a roof.
My mother in law also used to come to Zion National Park every year for Easter, where they would picnic and roll eggs in the Grotto. Then my husband would tell me about how they used to wake up super early, hike to Angel's Landing and then drive home right as the sun was coming up. Or, he used to hike Angel's landing at night. (?!) Crazy I know. Even in college, we would play hooky at work just to go and hike The Subway. This National Park will always have a special place for our family, especially since it goes back a few generations.
My husband kept talking about this "Tunnel" and honestly, I couldn't figure out why he was so excited about this particular tunnel.
Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
Come to find out, it's 1.1 miles long tunnel through solid rock and mountain. It was started in 1920 and finished in 1930. Back when they didn't have cool machines like we do now.
Honestly, it was quite impressive. There are lookouts that you can see driving up. Back in the day, they used to let the cars pull of and tourists could get out and look out, but not anymore. Now, you can only drive through the tunnel. Crazy fact. If there is a vehicle pulling a trailer, they have to stop traffic on both sides and let the trailer go through first. The tunnel is pretty narrow, so it only fits in two regular sized vehicles.
Since we were heading home, we decided to take a different route and head towards Mt. Carmel Junction.
It's crazy how much different the mountains and rocks change color after coming out of the tunnel. All of sudden, you've got white rocks instead of all the dark reds!
We left just in time, because the husband and babies all fell fast asleep!
So, if you have half a day in Zion National Park with kids, here's all the places to visit!
- Lower Emeral Pool Trail and continue on to The Grotto Trail.
- Picnic at The Grotto
- Visit the Temple of Sinawava.
- Hike Weeping Rock Trail.
- Bathrooms at almost every shuttle pass.
- Park at the Zion Human Museum of History if possible.
- Always check the weather before starting out on a hike. Especially in Flash Flooding season.
- Pack some snacks.
- We always hike with an Osprey Packs Poco - Plus Child Carrier & Ergobaby Original Baby Carrier
Check out all the other hikes in Southern Utah!