Only a six hour drive from Los Angeles, Utah's Zion National Park is the ideal getaway for SoCal families with adventure on their summer agenda. Home to soaring mountain peaks and deep, spectacular canyons, all accessible via an extensive network of hiking trails, the iconic National Park offers something for everyone, from tame strolls to adrenaline-stoking climbs.
With 101 years under its belt, Zion is Utah's oldest operated park. It's also its most visited. But at nearly 150,000 acres, it's easy to escape the crowds. Let's take a look at some of the best ways to explore this magnificent landscape.
With 74 trails and nine technical canyons, there's never a shortage of hikes in this sprawling park. Ease into the adventure with the whole family on a self-guided tour down Gateway to the Narrows, which is tame enough for strollers and wheelchairs, or test yourself with a strenuous trek up the circuitous path to Angel's Landing, where you'll enjoy one of the finest vistas in Zion. You can even push yourself further by taking up rock climbing with a certified outfitter, or join your children on one of the many free, Ranger-led hikes. Need to cool off? Then do some canyoning and discover hidden, shaded grottos.
In addition to hiking, Zion is an ideal cycling destination. Mountain bikes can be rented in the nearby town of Springdale, and the Pa'Rus trail--paved and family-friendly--is perfect for a leisurely cruise. Flanked by towering peaks and rock formations, the route is pure magic at dusk when the setting sun casts the surrounding rock walls in a glowing orange hue.
While visitors can tour the park in their own cars via Utah Highway 9, the best way to experience Zion in a vehicle is by taking one of the many open-air shuttles, which enjoy exclusive access to the main canyon. Take in unobstructed views of the park's most famous formations, from Great White Throne to Weeping Rock, before looping through the town of Springdale for some shopping, dining and relaxing.
But the action isn't limited to Zion. With 12 golf courses situated in a 15 minute radius, the nearby town of St. George offers the ideal escape for any golfers in the family. Courses are challenging, affordable and--like everything else in the area--stunning. There's an array of world-class mountain bike trails and plenty of outfitters in St. George, as well, just in case you haven't satiated your adventurous appetite yet.
To learn more about Zion National Park and to start planning your adventure, visit AtoZion.com.