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Zion Nat'l Park / Bryce Canyon - a couple of questions before we leave

Zion Nat'l Park / Bryce Canyon - a couple of questions before we leave

Jul 9th, 2009, 05:37 AM
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Zion Nat'l Park / Bryce Canyon - a couple of questions before we leave

We are a family of four - kids are 7 and 3.5.
Here is our itinerary first:

day 1 and 2 - Las Vegas - staying at Red Rock Casino - seems very family friendly and we are renting a cabana on day 2 for shade purposes (and for fun).

day 3 and 4 - Escalante, UT - staying at Wild West Retreat - this is our base for seeing Bryce Canyon and also Grand Staircase Nat'l Monument - will take some child friendly hikes and hopefully find some swimming holes.

day 5 and 6 - Springdale, UT - staying at Cable Mountain Lodge - right across from entrance to Zion Nat'l Park.

day 7 and 8 - St. George, UT - staying at Inn at Entrada - looking forward to poking around this area and learning about history of Brigham Young, etc.

day 9 and 10 - Las Vegas - Staying at Palazzo - apparently their pool area is in the shade until noon time. this is great for us!


** When we drive from Las Vegas to Escalante on day 3 (which will be a Thursday) - is there someplace to stop halfway with some pretty scenery to see and perhaps to get a decent bite to eat (doesn't need to be fancy, but good would be nice)?

**Is Escalante too far from the entrance to Bryce Canyon NP to be a good base? (am starting to doubt my choice), -- I'm intrigued by this area, however and looking forward to our visit there but am thinking I probably could have found someplace closer... perhaps on day 5 when we leave for Springdale we can get up early and spend the day in Bryce Canyon before checking into our lodging.

** Where are the best swimming holes for the kids (or rivers, etc)... very much looking forward to getting wet with them and would love some suggestions.

mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 05:50 AM
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Yes, Escalante is too far from Bryce. The drive on Hwy 12 however between Bryce to Torrey (Escalante is mid way) is fabulous.

I can't really advise you as our preferences are very different. No one could pay me to spend 4 days of my vacation in LV, so I would skip it entirely and spend my time in the parks.
Dayle is online now  
Jul 9th, 2009, 05:58 AM
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yikes! hopefully I haven't completely messed this up!

I've had an inkling that the Vegas portion of the trip was too long, but part of my thinking is that there will only be so much hiking we can do with the kids being so little and that we will get a flavor for the parks since delving too deep into them won't really be possible.

The kids love to swim so they will enjoy that aspect of Vegas and the first place we are staying has a lot to offer them.

My husband and I are really most looking forward to the national parks, but have to balance things to make it work.

Do you think lodging closer to Bryce would be better and just skip Escalante all together? it seems like a very pretty area, but I don't want to miss out on Bryce.
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 06:02 AM
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oh also, forgot to mention that the reason for two days at the end of the vegas trip is that originally we were going to have just one day and fly home on Thursday but flights were significantly cheaper on Friday so we added a day. adjusting the other lodgings wasn't easy because of prices jumping up or lack of availability so I tacked the extra day on to vegas.
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 06:45 AM
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With only 2 days, I'd actually skip Escalante and stick to Bryce so you can do more in the park like horseback rides and the like. I think these are more child-friendly activities. And I would only stay in the park or at Ruby's Inn. Anything else is going to be an hour's drive away, and that's too far with young kids.

I stayed at Red Rock Resort when I went to Zion/Bryce, and I thought it was a great location to base myself. It's reasonably family-friendly since there are several dining options, though all are off the smoky casino. Still, the pool is the best thing about the hotel, though with lots of loud music. Thankfully, it's away from the Strip, which I'd avoid all costs with 2 young kids if at all possible.

I don't know the Palazzo, but it's new and attached to the Venetian, which is a pretty good location if you have to be on the Strip. The mall there has a few family-friendly dining options, and you're within walking distance to the big Fashion Show Mall if it's not too hot.

If you stick to the hotel and don't stray too far, I think you'll be ok in LV, but, like Dayle, I would not have planned so many days in the city with 2 small children. It's just not a child-friendly place, even at the pools, which are geared toward the party set. There are a few child-friendly attractions on the Strip, but they are pretty far from this hotel.
doug_stallings is online now  
Jul 9th, 2009, 07:10 AM
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Okay... I am going to try to restructure this trip... sort of late in the game, but obviously I don't want to make any major mistakes.

I just called Xanterra and was able to get just one night inside the park (thursday)... checked the whole ten days we are out there and there is nothing for two days. Ruby's is also available for Thursday but also not for Friday. This is a little complicated and further so because today is the last day I can cancel the Escalante reservations without penalty.

Would you stay in the park on Thursday and then keep the Escalante reservation for Friday?
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 08:50 AM
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You can gain more time to add Bryce by dumping the two nights in St. George.

There's no swimming at Bryce unless you stay at Ruby's (pool).

Just north of Escalante is the Escalante River...a good place to wade and play in the water. Lower Calf Creek Falls has a nice pool at the base of the waterfall but I'm not sure the little one would be up for the 2.5 mile hike in.

Near Escalante is The Hole in the Rock Road with the Devil's Garden about 15 miles in. Very fun for the kids if it isn't too hot...not sure when your trip is. Escalante NM isn't like Bryce or Zion...it is just a huge area with many diverse attractions all spread over many square miles. Perhaps you might consider this for a later trip when the kids are older?

Here's a link to our trip report from the area:


If you click on the 'ALL GALLERIES' at the top of any page you'll find galleries of images from all our Utah trips for a little inspiration. You'll love the area and will be planning you next trip before you even finish this one...Have fun!
peterboy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 11:05 AM
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Am looking at your WONDERFUL trip report and gorgeous pictures. From reading this, it sounds like you camped... how did that work out for you? I would be interested in trying this, but how on earth do we fly out West with two kids and a bunch of camping gear? Are there places out there that can supply you with a tent? Are there bathroom facilities at the camp ground?
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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We camped at Bryce only. We planned on camping near Escalante but a tire problem prevented this. Also planned on camping at Goblins but storms and flooding caused us to wimp out there too....not that we minded.

Since there are just two of us, we manage to fit our small tent, sleeping bags, tiny propane lantern and stove into a large checked bag. Clothes go into another checked bag and out carry on is one soft sided cooler each. Once we arrive, we take our backpacks and camera gear out of the carry on coolers and use one for food, the other for ice cold beverages. We didn't prepare meals but needed thesingle burner stove for coffee since we like our FAR strongerthat we can usually find. Often we need coffee before the shops are open anyway...early risers.

I'm sure there are places to rent gear. Another option is to ship the gear ahead in boxes to your first hotel or lodging. Ask first of course but we've never had the friendly hotlier refuse.

There are pay showers at Bryce but I don't know about Zion but I'm sure there must be. Perhaps someone else has better info on that that they will offer. I'd suggest getting the Delorme atlas/gazetteer for utah...it has all this type of info about campgrounds in it. It will also allow your older child to follow along as you drive for something to do.


we find the Delorme books quite useful as we like to explore backroads.
peterboy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 01:30 PM
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The Lower Calf Creek Falls hike will be way too much. 2.5 miles in the heat and no shade until you get to the falls.

If you want in-park then keep calling every day until something opens up. It always does when the tours begin to release rooms.

There really isn't any water in bryce. However, the Queen's Garden - Navajo Loop hike isn't steep, is quite smooth and wide. You should be ok.

In Zion I would highly recommend the Riverside Walk. This is the preamble to the Narrows.

It's an easy walk that's paved with a sandy coating. If the kids are wearing bathing suits there are many places where they can dunk in the river on the walk. Even at the end where the Narrows begins.

Again, call Xanterra twice a day until your dates open up.
Myer is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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If you stay at Bryce View Lodge, you can use all the facilities at Ruby's Inn, including the pool. It's across the street from Ruby's.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 08:51 PM
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When you're in Springdale, you can take your kids tubing on the Virgin River. We didn't get a chance to do that when we were there, but I hope to if we ever have the opportunity to go back. The Zion Adventure Company provides tubes, which are launched next to their store on the river in Springdale - you float down the river to a park where their shuttle picks you up and brings you back to town - apparently it takes about 2 hours. The river is very shallow, so your youngest should have no problem with this. It sounds like a fun activity on a hot day!
Sara is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 10:01 PM
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Everyone is helping you w/ the parks -- my concern is w/ the LV bits. It will be bloody HOT and even w/ the pools and cabanas - there won't be much time you and the kids can be outside. IMO 2 days is a lot for Vegas in summer w/ kids, 4 days is a really REALLY lot.
janisj is online now  
Jul 10th, 2009, 06:09 AM
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Okay... I am really appreciating what everyone has to say and am trying to restructure things. If I can pull it off, how does this sound.

7/14 Day 1 - arrive Las Vegas
7/15 Day 2 - depart LV - arrive Bryce Canyon
7/16 Day 3 - Bryce Canyon (have the in park reservation for this night)
7/17 Day 4 - Escalante, UT (this is Friday July 17th... couldn't get reservations at anything closer to park)
7/18 Day 5 - Springdale
7/19 Day 6 - Springdale
7/20 Day 7 - ?
7/21 Day 8 - St. George
7/22 Day 9 - St. George
7/23 Day 10 - LV
7/24 Fly Home

What would you do for Day 7?
Also, am concerned that there will only be so many child friendly hikes we can do in the parks and that we will have more time than we need here -- are there activities I can set up that would be worth it? thinking of a tour, or hot air balloon ride or something?

Feel free to throw in suggestions of places I haven't mentioned. I am totally open to making changes to the itinerary but we leave in 5 days and some of the places have cancellation policies that I am running up against, so I would have to make changes ASAP.

mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 06:52 AM
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You probably already know, but it's going to be really hot in Zions and St. George this time of year. If you think your family might enjoy a play in an outdoor theater, Annie, is playing at Tuacahn on July 22.
BarbaraS is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 07:50 AM
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thank you!! we would all LOVE that.

is there any areas north of zion/bryce that would be worth the drive...

capitol reef?
anything else?
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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I guess I'd toss day 7 to Springdale and hang around the Virgin River to let the kids play in it. Do your park stuff early before it gets too hot then head back to the river. it is a small river...we'd call it a brook here in watery Upstate NY...and is shallow and gentle unless there's been a thunderstorm upstream.

There's also an IMAX theather in Springdale that the kid's would like (3D)


That or add another day to Bryce...that is the highest elevation on your trip and will be the coolest. Still, up early and chill out during the hotter afternoon will be the way to go. Ruby's has a pool for the kids so that might be nice after your more rustic pool-less night in the park. A half day horseback ride at Bryce might be fun for the kids. There are also horseback rides in Zion.

Check at the parks for ranger programs for you and the kids.
peterboy is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 09:16 AM
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Mama, It's sure too bad you didn't get this advice before planning your trip. Bryce in the summer is pretty nice, it's at high altitude and will be the coolest of your destinations. With the timeyou have, you could spend 2-3 days at Bryce, do a scenic drive from there one day and see some of the Escalante area, returning to Bryce where it's cool to sleep. Keep trying to get reservations at least near Bryce - Ruby's, Bryce Canyon Inn.

I wouldn't recommend camping/flying for a first timer with little kids. Probably too much work for you.

You could take more time at Zion to do activities very early, then spend the hottest parts of the day in the river!
Dayle is online now  
Jul 10th, 2009, 10:46 AM
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I notice you ask about going farther north. Going north in the west doesn't equate to cooler temperatures as it does here in the east. Cooler temperatures are found at higher altitudes in the southwest. Arches, Capitol Reef, Goblins and many other areas are weel worth seeing but it won't be cooler. Arches is out of your range on this trip anyway. For this time of year it is either get high or get into some water to stay cool outside.
peterboy is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 10:51 AM
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You won't want to go to Arches - it is great but too far/ too much driving with your kids. Day 7 would be great in Springdale/Zion. With kids, I'd select a motel with a pool. You can also rent bikes in Springdale and ride along the river. There are plenty of easy hikes/walks and nice picnic areas in Zion. Enjoy your trip!
elnap29 is offline  

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