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Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

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Raleigh, NC
posts: 21
Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

I am trying to form a plan for a family trip to Southern Utah area and am just overwhelmed with the information and would love some direction. We are a family of 4, children ages 7 and 11, and the travel week will be second week in June. I think our trip will just be 7, maybe 8 days. I want to go to N. Rim of G.C. and then other parks in the area as well. These are the type of specific activities I am looking for, in addition to looking at views and hikes/short tours in the parks: jeep ride, a boat ride or canoeing (won't do whitewater rafting with the children), Indian ruins, and either a good dinosaur museum or fossil site. Other ideas that kids would like would be appreciated! Which parks would kids enjoy the most?

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 12,758
reviews: 96
1. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Well, you have come to the right place. If you have time you can read through some of the trip reports posted on the sticky at the top of the forum. It is good to read what others have done and what they enjoyed.

I'm guessing you'll be flying into Las Vegas? In 8 days here is one option:

Day1- arrive LV, if you arrive early then just head on out, if it is later afternoon, then stay there the first night

Day 2- Springdale and Zions NP. Stop in St George on the way at the Johnson Farm Dinosaur Museum, it is the best in the area. Stay Springdale

Day 3- Zions hike the riverside walk, maybe trudge up the Narrows for a ways, hike to Emerald Pool, and weeping rock, tube the Virgin river in town. You could easily spend another day here. There is a nice history museum, an Imax theater, a walk along the Pa'rus trail, Grafton ghost town. There is a sunset jeep tour which takes you up onto the mesa top for the sunset overlooking the tops of Zion's monoliths. I haven't done that but it might be nice.

Day 4- drive to Bryce, on the way take the Canyon Overlook trail just east of the long tunnel, Visit Bryce. Hike down Navaho Loop to Queen's Garden trail. Great hike. Be sure to check out the night sky. Stay near Bryce (ruby's inn, BW Grand or at the lodge)

Day 5. Mule trip into the hoodoos at Bryce? Or just head on down to Page, stop at the Moqui Cave, or Coral Springs Sand Dunes, or Best Friends a no-kill animal shelter. Also visit the Glen Canyon Dam, take a tour, hike to Horseshoe bend. (or if you head down to Page early you could take a trip to Upper Antelope Canyon

Day 6- Half day river trip down the Glen Canyon portion of the Colorado River, drive on to North Rim, stopping at Navaho Bridges, Lee's Ferry and Lonely Dell Ranch. Enjoy the drive along the Vermillion Cliffs. Tell your kids that is where the Condors are released from. Enjoy the area around the lodge. Hike to Bright Angel Point Stay North Rim. If you don't have your reservations for the lodge there, you better start calling now. They may be booked but cancellations happen and you will only get it by calling in. Your whole trip will need to be arranged depending on your lodging at the North Rim. foreverlodging.com/lodging.cfm…

Day 7 Drive over to Point Imperial and Cape Royal, be sure to stop at the Walhalla pueblo...not too much but an Indian Ruin (there is also a small grainery not too far away at the beginning of the Cliff Springs hike, just off the road, but you have to know the trail is there and be watching for it), take a mule trip to the Supai tunnel.

Day 8- back to LV, if you go though AZ you can stop at the Pipe Springs NM for a look at an old pioneer fort and a nice Kaibab-Paiute museum.

I've given you more than you can do in the time you have, you'll just have to chose what works best for your family. If you want more time at each of the parks then you'll have to cut out something,,,Bryce or Page would seem the most logical, though they offer some great things for your family.

So best place for:

jeep ride? Maybe Coral Springs- though I don't know if there are any commercial outfits doing that....or Zions http://www.zionjeeptours.com/

boat ride: Lake Powell or Colorado discovery http://www.lakepowelltours.net/ http://www.raftthecanyon.com/

Indian Ruins: Walhalla Peninsula pueblo and grainery nps.gov/grca/…Walhalla.pdf , there are petroglyphs and pictographs scattered in small various locations throughout the area, but they are often off the beaten path...Just ask everywhere you go at visitors centers and shop.

Dinosaur museum: http://www.dinotrax.com/

Ghost towns: Grafton and Silver Reef http://www.graftonheritage.org/ www.ghosttowns.com/states/ut/silverreef.html

Hope that gets you started. Any questions?

Edited: 3:14 pm, January 05, 2010
Raleigh, NC
posts: 21
2. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Wow! This is wonderful information with great details and helps me narrow down all the information I was looking at. I will research all this and might post follow-up questions as needed. thank you so much!!

Michigan
posts: 108
3. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Kbecjeans gave you such good info -- I only have a few things to add.

We did Page with a Northern Arizona trip two years ago. My girls were 9 and 11. You will love that area -- it is so beautiful and a lot of diverse things to do with the kids. While my husband and I could look at the scenery and hike, the girls needed more diversity and that area gave it to them. We were there three nights and wanted more time!

Don't miss Antelope Slot Canyon -- it is unreal! Also the Dam tour, last year my daughter was reading her science book and brought it to me with a picture of the dam. The book did not note which dam it was but my daughter immediately knew. About 20 minutes out of town on Hwy 89 is the visitor center for the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument. It is small but has some very interesting information and displays on Dinosaurs. The ranger in there did a very good job explaining things to us, which made the exhibits even more meaningful. And some fun metal dinos outside for good pictures. And do your float trip there on the Colorado River -- it was too cold for us in April and I regret it to this day! And last but not least -- my girls still talk about eating at the Dam Bar and Grille. It is themed inside like the dam, the food is great, and the girls felt like they were allowed to "swear".

As for other areas in Utah they are on our vacation wish list, but while researching them I was intrigued that there is tubing outside of Springdale (Zion) My girls love doing that in the Smokys and it could be fun and relaxing for you all. My girls always tell me I plan to much and they need down time!

Enjoy your trip, our family will be on the other side of Utah in Moab for 4 nights. We are doing a Colorado/Utah trip.

Raleigh, NC
posts: 21
4. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Thanks! These are wonderful ideas too and make me comfortable with a specific list of great kid-related and educational activities in the area. I really needed someone to help focus things down for me. thanks again!

Raleigh, NC
posts: 21
5. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Hi, I have come up with a more detailed itinerary for our family trip in June based on some wonderful recommendations from tripadvisor Utah experts. I wanted to share my plan to get comments on it. Please let me know any problems you see and any other ideas. Thanks!

DAY 1 - LV

- Arrive LV in midAM

- To St. George, Utah: Dinosaur Discovery site

- To Springdale/Zion

- Stay: Springdale

DAY 2 - Zion

- AM: Visit park, hiking on our own

- PM: Grafton ghost town? Springdale area activities?, tubing?

- Evening: Jeep Tour?

- Stay: Springdale

DAY 3 - Zion

- AM: Canyoneering/rockclimbing tour - http://zionadventures.com/

- PM: Visit park, hiking, Grafton ghost town?

- Evening: Jeep tour? or Springdale area activities

- Stay Springdale

DAY 4 – Zion to Bryce

- AM: drive the Canyon Overlook Trail on way to Bryce, arrive Bryce

- PM: driving, hiking in Bryce

- Evening: stargazing program?

- Stay: Bryce

DAY 5 – Bryce to Page/Lake Powell area

- AM: wrap up any activities in Bryce

- AM/PM: on way to Page possible activities: (QUESTION HERE: could we do more than one on the way?)

- Moqui Cave

- Best Friends animal shelter (call ahead)

- Coral Springs sand dunes park

- PM: Stay Page –

DAY 6 – Page/Lake Powell area

- AM/PM: Upper Antelope Canyon Tour

- PM: Glen Canyon Dam Tour – every half hour

- Evening: Stay Page

DAY 7 – Page/Lake Powell area

- AM: Half Day raft trip down Colorado R.

- PM: other activities options: (QUESTIon HERE: any thoughts on these options?)

- Lower Antelope Canyon,

- Horseshoe Bend hike

- Grand Staircase – Escalante Nat’l Monument visitors center?

- Evening: Stay Page

DAY 8 – Page to Grand Canyon N. Rim

- AM: Drive to N. Rim

- Stops at Navaho Bridges

- Lee’s Ferry/Lonely Dell Ranch

- Drive along Vermillion Cliffs

- PM: Hangout at the Lodge, hiking – Bright Angel Point

- Evening: Stay Pioneer Lodge N. Rim

DAY 9 – Grand Canyon N. Rim to Las Vegas (QUESTION HERE: is this more than can be done in a day?)

- AM: Drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal, Walhalla Pueblo

- AM/PM: Drive to LV – on way options:

- Pipe Springs, NM – pioneer fort and Kaibab-Paiute museum

- Evening: Stay Las Vegas

Salt Lake City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah
posts: 12,758
reviews: 96
6. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

It is looking good.

A couple comments.

Day 2. Spend as much time in the park as possible. I would plan on being in the main canyon most of the day. You might want to plan a picnic lunch for the grotto area. Riverside walk, lower and middle emerald pools, up to scout's look out, weeping rock maybe to Hidden canyon. The history museum. If you have time after plan on the Imax or Grafton.

On Day 3. I don't think there are any half day canyoneering options. Plan on a full day for that. Afterwards I expect you'll be too tired to do much else.

Day 5. You'll have time to do them all in you leave Bryce by midmorning. Best Friends will take the longest....I think. I guess it depend on how long your kids can climb the sand dunes and slide down them. You might add in the Big Water Visitors center on this day rather than day 7- less backtracking. But it is a good center with great kid activities so you'll want enough time to enjoy it. So if you are out of time day 7 works great too. There is also a nice overlook of Lake Powell called Wahweap overlook north of the dam. You climb a small hill. Might be a nice sunset spot.

Day 7 My boys would have loved Lower Antelope Canyon. You might plan some time hanging out on the lake shore as well, I wouldn't call it swimming, but water fun. There is the beach at Wahweap and another on the south side of the lake. Horseshoe bend is great. No guardrails, don't let the kids get ahead of you on the trail. And don't forget about the option of a trip to Rainbow Bridge.

Day 9. Yes, that is too much to do. We spent all day on the Cape Royal road last time and didn't get to Point Imperial. To see both you will need more than a morning. One thought is that you could head to Point Imperial on Day 8 before driving down to the lodge. This is a great view/introduction of the canyon and you should have time that day, (I expect you will have already seen Navaho Bridges and Lee's Ferry- though not Lonely Dell- after your float trip). From North Rim to LV I would plan most of the day. A stop at Pipe Springs would be about the only other thing I'd do that day.

Glad you found an extra day or two. That really helps.

utah
posts: 513
reviews: 37
7. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Just to throw a wrench into things:

You may want to consider visiting the Moab area with Arches & Canyonlands national parks. It is a really good fit for what you are expressed interest in:

- It is very known for Jeeps

- Arches has fantastic hikes that would be great for your kids age range. There are lots of short easy hikes with great payoff as well as longer hikes.

- There is a HUGE sandhill right outside of Arches that would be heaven for your kids age

- They do river raft tours ther e

- Canyonlands also has several nice,easy hikes with great views at the end.

Others have a different opinion that me, but Bryce could be a quick stop without you missing much. (Bryce does have a really good 3 mile or so hike down into the canyon - it's pretty strenuous/steep - unless your kids are really good hikers for their age they may not enjoy it. You can also hike around the rim. I haven't done the mules, so I may not be giving that a fair shake - supposedly there is a cool scenic drive - not something my younger kids would be interested in.)

Consider spending the majority of your time at Zion/Moab/Grand Canyon and "check out" Bryce & Page (Lake Powell) since they are pretty much on route in getting to the other places.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,081
reviews: 320
8. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

I think you have a very good plan, hbg. Kbecjeans has given you some very good advice for tweaks for the plan, so with those modifications, you should be set.

bc1_8 has mentioned Moab, which is another excellent destination, and one of my favorite areas to visit. However, with the time you have I do not think it is practical to add Moab to the itinerary (you could spend a week in the Moab area alone, plus you would need to make stops at Torrey for Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley). I would save the eastern half of southern UT for another trip (and you will be back) so that you can get the most of that experience (just keep track of the notes that bc provided, as they are all great ideas).

One other thought for Page is to take a Hummer ride in the desert to view other slot canyons. We did this on our trip to Page in the fall of 2008 and it was great. Here is the link to the review of Hummer Adventures:

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60834-d12…

Looks like you have an excellent family adventure in the works; have a ball!

BTW, welcome to the forum!

Raleigh, NC
posts: 21
9. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Thanks for adjusting my perspective on time for travel and activities in certain places of my itinerary, definitely appreciated. Also thanks for the additional tips and suggestions. I am getting very excited!

Regarding the suggestion to look into Arches too...I've heard wonderful things about Arches as well as other areas in Utah and that was how I initially got so overwhelmed when I started to pin the trip details down to a trip that would get enough sites in but not have my family so tired and wishing for a divorce! :-) I already know I'll be planning another trip to Utah and nearby areas again because I want to see it all!

Raleigh, NC
posts: 21
10. Re: Travel ideas for a family trip to Southern part of Utah area

Oh, I forgot to mention that Zion Adventures tour company offers a 1/2 family canyoneering tour that I was considering (1/2 day as opposed to full day). Just FYI.