Spring Break Trip – Zion National Park and Las Vegas

Zion National Park

Vacation for our family usually means a sunny beach, lounging in the pool and the majority of the steps earned are from walking to the bar to get another tropical drink to beat the heat. For the 2019 spring break we decided to do something different and planned a trip to the beautiful Zion National Park in Utah. The original plan was to drive to Bryce National Park as well but due to bad weather and some road construction we had to cut that out. We spent 2 nights in Zion and 1 night in Vegas so while the trip was relatively short it was action packed!

Getting There

The closest airport to Zion is Vegas and then the park entrance is approximately 3 hours away from the airport. The highlight for my son (an aspiring pilot) was when the pilot allowed him to take the seat next to him and play with the controls!

There aren’t many places to eat around the national park so we had ordered some groceries using prime now at a whole foods near the airport and it was super convenient! We picked up our groceries and headed to Zion listening to our propriety blend of Bollywood and Hollywood hits.

Early morning flight
Road trip to Zion
A dream come true – Sitting in the pilot’s seat
Yay! We made it

Basics of Zion National Park

The town of Springdale, UT is where the hotels are. The town is just minutes away from the entrance of the park and there is an amazing free shuttle service which takes you to the entrance of the park and then there is another shuttle line to commute within the park. While you can drive and park inside too, there was no need to do that if you are staying in the area. We stayed at the Springhill Suites by Marriott and it was a beautiful hotel with great rooms, free breakfast and amazing views from the windows. Check out some of the pictures below!

View from the hotel
Amazing backdrop right outside the hotel
Outdoor fireplace near the breakfast area

Hike 1 – Lower Emerald Pool

The park has some great hikes and we started off with a very popular trail which was only about 1 mile round trip. The trail ends in a beautiful waterfall and had great views of the virgin river as you hike. We spent some time in the Zion lodge area to recharge after the hike and since we were super tired after the long journey from Seattle, we returned to our hotel room to get some well deserved rest.

Emerald Pools Trailhead
Great waterfall at the end of the hike

Hike 2 – Watchman Trail

My son had seen a YouTube video of this trail and was really excited to go on this trail. This was in the moderate category and was about 3.5 miles round trip. There was some great views of the canyon as you climb but there were also equally terrifying steep drop offs in many places. We hiked quite a bit of it but at around the 80% mark we felt it was a bit too risky with our son and decided to return back. It was a great workout for sure!

Hey dad, this looks exactly like the YouTube video we saw

Amateur mountaineers simulating a rope rescue 🙂
Peace and tranquility between the rocks
Stuck between a rock and and a hard place – Look at the shades of red!

Hike 3 – Riverside Walk

After being tired from the watchman trail we had a good picnic lunch at the zion lodge before heading to the last shuttle stop called – Temple of Sinawava. This is the starting point of the the riverside walk and interestingly the end of the riverside walk is the beginning of the park’s most famous hike – The Narrows. When we went there (April 2019) the narrows was shut due to the flow of the water being too high but we could definitely appreciate why this hike was so famous.

The riverside walk is a super easy hike which goes along the virgin river and you can the majestic canyons on both sides. There was tons of naughty squirrels trying to entice the hikers to feed them 🙂 We saw some deer along the trail as well and if you are lucky enough you might even spot a Peregrine Falcon perched on top of the mountains!

Waterfall emerging from a rock!
This is where the narrows trail actually begins, maybe we will try it on our next visit

Hike 4 – Weeping Rock

Even though we had done 2 hikes that day, we still didn’t feel like going back to the hotel and decided to do one additional short hike. As the name suggests, the water seems to be seeping out of the rock giving it the “weeping” look. The hike was short and steep but we were glad it was not too hard as we were really exhausted at the end of the day. I had never reached 20,000 steps on my fit bit and finally managed to get the badge here. Interestingly my son (9.5 years old) could easily keep up and probably had a lot more energy than the parents, so Zion is definitely a kid friendly place!

Weeping rock trailhead
20,000 steps is a lot of walking!

Vegas for families

It’s interesting to go from a place full of tranquility and natural beauty to the complete opposite of man made concrete jungle. While I enjoy Vegas as a party place it’s definitely not geared for families. However, a lot has been changing over the years and I see lot more families walking around in the hotels and on the strip.

We stayed at the Venetian which is a great resort by itself but we found plenty of family friendly activities to do while we were there. Some key ones:

  • Gondola ride in Venetian – Link
  • M & M world – Link
  • Shark Reef at the Mandalay bay – Link
  • Fountains at Bellagio – Link
  • Bellagio botanical gardens – Link
  • Eiffel tower viewing deck – Link
Gondolas in Venetian
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
A great night shot
Daytime fountain show at Bellagio
Japanese spring decoration at the Bellagio botanical gardens
M&M world
Video of the strip from the top of the Eiffel tower

Happy Trails

Hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. Keep traveling as life permits, the memories of trips together as a family truly last a lifetime. Happy trails!