Have you heard about the Secret Petroglyphs Hike in Zion National Park? We've actually written about them briefly before, but we hadn't done it with our kids. Since we were down at Zion Ponderosa Ranch a few weeks ago, we figured we probably should make another visit.
One important thing I've learned about traveling with young kids is that maps are important. So are pamphlets, especially if they have animals or other pictures to look at. While we know were most everything (we, meaning my husband) in Zion is, I still like to get maps and give them to the kids. Then they ask all sorts of questions and learn about the wildlife. Word of warning though, get two of everything. Sometimes sharing is hard and causes lots of fights.
The purple Subaru drove us safely to the Petroglyphs trailhead. I say trailhead, when really, it's the wooden fence. It's about 2.2 miles from the East Gate Entrance on Zion. It's also one the only wooden fences on the East side. So go ahead and park there. We actually took the long way.
We parked the car and then followed what looked like a trail just to the left of the photo above.
Luckily, we had our snow boots on, because we just went right under the bridge and through the "river." I saw river, but it was a small stream and is probably rarely there in the warmer months of
I was glad we left the kids in their coats and boots, because while it wasn't snowing, it was raining and quite windy in the wash we walked through.
Just keep walking up the river and eventually you'll find an opening to the left that leads to this plaque. (I forgot to take a photo of the opening but it can't be more than 7 minutes walk up the wash. I was too busy trying to keep little Aiko out of the stream.)
I'm not sure how long the plaque has been there, but I could have sworn they weren't there when we went 8 years ago. Either way, it's nice they closed it off, especially so my littles didn't go rub their hands all over the petroglyphs.
The kids thought it was super fun looking for different animals and shapes.
It was kind of hard to see them in the gloomy light though.
There was a dirt trail that kept going so we followed it to this sweet little wash area.
Don't worry, I didn't steal this rock from a National Park, but I did really want too. I love the different rock formations.
Seriously, we've only been to Zion in the dry season, so seeing it covered with water and ice is something else!
Don't forget to smell the ponderosa's. Seriously, I know I write about these all the time, but butterscotch and vanilla!
When you enter the opening by the plaque, you can go left or right. We hadn't taken the left side yet as we thought it was the actual trail to the plaques.
Come to find out it let to even more petroglyphs.
We decided to head back after seeing the second set, mainly because I could feel the air getting colder and I always worry about flash flooding. Luckily, it was just cold.
So this is actually where you can go down and start the trail to the petroglyphs. It's just to the right side of the bridge past the parking lot. But if you are feeling adventurous, go under the bridge.
The hike probably took all of 30 minutes, since we had tiny toddlers that require leading away from the stream. I'm sure you can go much quicker than that with older kids and adults. It is a little uneven as you are hiking on slickrock with the stream right beside it, but nothing we couldn't handle easily.
After the hike, we decided to head to the main side of Zion National Park, so we could go through the tunnels. These are my husbands favorite part. If you haven't read about these tunnels, you should, it's quite the accomplishment. Tunneling through 1.1 miles of solid rock and mountain, in the 1930s. I mean seriously. There are a couple "windows" that you can see below or on this hike I wrote about a few days ago. Can you see the window in the photo above?
We decided to just drive through Zion on every road possible. During the busy summer months, they have a shuttle system that requires you to ride the shuttles. While it's pretty efficient, it's also kind of annoying. My husband remember when you could drive everywhere and feels like it's a drag to ride the shuttles. In the winter months you can drive all you want through the park so we take advantage of it while we can.
The views are just dreamy too. I mean I love Zion in the warmer months, but who knew you could love it even more right before Christmas?
We've written about Zion National Park before, so be sure to check out our other posts here.
- No public bathrooms at Petroglyph trailhead.
- Easily done, but expect uneven, slippery rock.
- Watch the weather and ask about Storm Warnings at the entrance.
- Take water, especially in the hot months.
- You won't find this trail on the Pamphlets, that's why it's Secret.
In addition to the petroglyphs, once you get to the “dryfall” at the end of the wash there is a narrow footpath just to the right of the slab that leads further up canyon to some really cool water pockets in a vast swirling field of slick rock. I’ve been there many times and rarely have seen more than a couple of other people. Continuing further still up canyon there is a really cool hidden slot canyon that is easily hiked for 75-100 yards until you’re blocked by a rock jam. Canyonereer’ers climb the rock jam to continue up canyon but aside from a very slight bit of exposure just before you get to the narrow entrance to the slot, pretty much anyone can hike as far as the rock jam. You would, however, want to hold little hands in a few places, particularly just before you enter the slot. This is one of my favorite places to get away from the crowds on the east side of Zion and is also very photogenic.