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Tips for visiting Zion National Park with a baby?
February 22, 2012 2:36 PM   Subscribe

On a whim my husband and I booked a trip to Zion National Park for mid-March. We love hiking and photography, and we're excited to visit Zion for the first time. Our 8 month old daughter will be with us, and we're looking for advice on getting the most out of the park with a baby in tow.

We're staying at the lodge in the park, so we'll be able to take her back to the room for naps (if she doesn't just sleep in the baby carrier). Which trails should we hit? (The Narrows will be out of the question, obviously). Anything else we should know?
posted by eliina to Travel & Transportation around Zion National Park, UT (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Zion has got to be one of the most user friendly national parks I've seen. My hiking buddy and I observe that, on some of the trails, you could push a wheelchair part way along (seriously).

It is also, I might add, one of my favorite parks and an absolutely beautiful place.

See the park's Map and Guide here for detailed information.

There are hiking trails, and then there are hiking trails. Some, like the Narrows, are probably not a good idea with a little kid in tow. Among my favorite trails that should be doable with a backpack-baby-carrier thingy are:

Observation Point: 4 miles as the feet walk to a lovely view of the valley. This is not a difficult hike (although a good work out nonetheless as there is about a 2,000 foot gain in altitude), but there is a bit through a canyon-like area that fills up with snow and ice during the winter. So depending upon what the winter has been like, you may encounter more snow, ice and / or water than you might be comfortable with. But then you turn around, and do another trail.

(Note: in March, the snow / ice / water issue may require impromptu changes in plan as hiking skill and comfort dictate.)

Weeping Rock Trail: A short walk to a rock alcove with a dripping spring and a hanging garden-like effect of plants. This trail is accessible from the same stop on the park service bus as Observation Point.

Emerald Pools Trails, Lower and Upper: A lovely hike to waterfalls. After the lower pool you might decide not to walk under an overhanging waterfall to continue on to the upper pool, but that's fine as the lower trail is worth it.

Par'us Trail: For a lovely, flat walk along the Virgin River (paved in whole or in part).

Angel's Landing: This is a popular hike, but beyond a certain point it has very steep drop-offs that motivate many (most maybe) to turn around. I haven't done this hike yet; it is tentatively on the list for the trip this spring, but I'm not sure about the exposures.

There are lots of other options to explore once you get there. The rangers in the Visitor Center are always very helpful.

Also note that the Park Service Map and Guide is very conservative in its descriptions of the levels of difficulty of the trails. For example, it describes Weeping Rock Trail as short and steep: it is short but not steep for an experienced hiker. Of course, YMMV.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by cool breeze at 3:41 PM on February 22, 2012


I love Zion. The park's guide to the trails is pretty accurate, as are cool breeze's descriptions. I have done Angel's Landing a few times, and I would not go past Scout's Lookout with a baby on my back, but the rest would likely be fine and would still be pretty. As a bonus, most deaths on that hike are from crossing Scout's Landing while icy and slipping, so, ah double no in March.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:58 PM on February 22, 2012


The non-Springdale end of the park (outside of St. George, Utah) is often overlooked. The Double Arch Alcove hike out in the Kolob part of the hike is beautiful, gentle, and probably great for baby-hauling, although I've never done it in March. It's also known as the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:08 PM on February 22, 2012


If you don't already have a (good) backpack-style baby carrier, I'd highly suggest one. My favorite (and the one I really wish I'd had when my son was that size) is the Deuter Kid Comfort line; probably the 2 if you'll be hiking for several hours, or the 3 if you want something bigger.
posted by EKStickland at 5:33 PM on February 22, 2012


I've been to Zion in March. THere will be snow on the trails starting about halfway up. There will be waterfalls.
posted by notsnot at 6:44 PM on February 22, 2012


Though I have not hiked Angel's Landing myself I know that there is a section that requires clinging to chains to cross a very narrow and steep section of the trail. I personally would hesitate to attempt it with a baby in tow.

However, I was in Zion with a seven-year-old a couple of years ago and found many of the trails to be easily manageable even by people with little legs who tired easily. So there will be plenty of easy hiking available for people hauling a baby.

On a side note, if you happen to be going anywhere near the Coral Pink Sand Dunes state park on your way to or from Zion, it's one of the most serenely beautiful places I've ever been. Not as thunderingly impressive as Zion but very lovely.
posted by DSime at 7:37 PM on February 22, 2012


Yup n'thing angels landing being a bit sketchy, the place were everyone stops has a wonderful view though. I went the whole way up, complete with backpack full of photography gear and tripod. Up was fine, down got a bit slippery and uhm, entertaining. There is a spot that is only about 3 feet wide with 1000'+ drops on either side. With that said, The view from the very top is absolutely unreal with the river arcing around on 3 sides of you, just pay attention to the conditions. I was there in March/April and had clear trails.

I would also recommend a side trip up to Bryce canyon, about two hours drive away, and several thousand feet higher. There was a lot of snow when I went but the road was plowed bare. Absolutely beautiful for photography because you get the red/yellow rocks and white snow and brilliant almost violet skies.

If there is a lot of snow/ice you might want to bring along in some sort of traction aid like microspikes or yaktracks and some gaiters to keep the snow out of your boots.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 9:07 PM on February 22, 2012


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