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By Care Willink


We didn’t have a full week to take off of work but wanted to be sure and enjoy the amazing Utah sites that the state has to offer! So why not have Thanksgiving in the Mountains? Our weekend bucket list included Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon & Arches National Park. Making this happen in four days required a bit of driving but it is totally possible!

Pro Tip: If you have more time be sure and add on Page, Arizona to the list. This could end up being the most epic trip you’ve ever taken!  See our blog on our guide to visiting Page, Arizona.

Picking up your Escape campervan from the Las Vegas camper van rental depot will mean you have about a 3 hour drive to our first stop: Bryce Canyon!

Bryce Canyon in Winter
Bryce Canyon in the Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park

We were lucky enough to hit this area on a beautiful snowy Thanksgiving day. Because of this our access was free but the roads were not maintained so beware of weather conditions. We hit a very snowy day but it made for some absolutely breathtaking views and photos!  We had a mini Thanksgiving meal right on the side of the canyon! Highlight recommended.

Bryce Canyon Dinner with a View Bryce Canyon Family Vacation
Rim Canyon Trail

Rim Canyon Trail is a 10.7 mile moderate hike. Many said, in most seasons, this hike is perfect for families. We did just a bit of it because of the icy trails but it was well worth it!

We made our 45 minute trek back to Zion to our campground near Zion and to get in some early hiking!

Rim Canyon Trail Family Trip Rim Canyon Trail Sightseeing with Family

Zion National Park

The drive into the park from the east entrance will take your breath away. This park is swirling with textures and amazing views. There are a lot of great resources out there on Zion but our best advice is to be sure and read whats best for your family, and don’t forget to take into account the time of year you are visiting. The weather can be drastically different between the top of the mountains and the valley area.

We went over Thanksgiving weekend in November so we found ourselves with sweatshirt weather at the bottom but icy snowy trails the more we hiked up. It actually started blowing snow at one point which was a little nerve-racking. Because of this, our plans shifted a bit having kids with us, but the the memories were just as amazing!

Zion National Park in Winter
Zion National Park

Best places to camp:

Zion South Campground 

This is right inside Zion National park! Individual sites are $20 dollars and your Escape Campervan fits great in these sites! You should find this to be rustic camping but it does have restrooms!

Zion National Park Campground & RV resort

This campground is right outside of the park (very close to the south entrance). This has hook ups and a beautiful view. Bathrooms with showers and a few of the extras. Prices vary based on travel date.

Zion National Park Trail
Zion National Park Trail


Hikes & Views:

When planning out your trip take note that some of the hikes are not accessible by car. You will need to park your car and take a bus to the different trails. Some are accessible close to the parking lot.

Zion Narrows Riverside Walk-

This is a beautiful Riverside walk about 1.8 miles. It is one of the busier ones because of the easy access but truly so beautiful and great for kids at any age!

Weeping Rock Trail-

This is an uphill, easy .3 mile hike to see a beautiful waterfall and an overlook! Great for anyone in your family.

Hidden Canyon Trail-

This trail is a 1.3 mile trail that’s mostly uphill. It gives you the feeling of Angel’s Landing (chains to hold on to and beautiful views) without the miles. Great if you have adventurous kids!

The next morning we made our 5 hour trip to Moab, UT. Be sure and plan some time for a couple beautiful desert stops along the way! 

Hidden Canyon Trail
Hidden Canyon Trail

Arches National Park

Devils Garden Campground

This campground is the only place in the park to camp! Prices range from $25-$250 a night so plan ahead before camping here! No hook ups but it does have flushing toilets & drinking water. Such a beautiful place to camp if you can steal a sight.

Arches National Park Family Trip
Arches National Park
Arches National Park Site Seeing Family Trip
Arches National Part (2)

Hikes & Views:

We hit a few places the first evening and got up early to see a few more before taking off back to the depot. Even if you just drive through Arches National Park you will see these iconic arches from the road! Their are many hikes around Arches National Park but we found that many of the hikes were a short distance from your car to the different Arches, making it easy for children hiking.

Windows Loop & Turret Arch Trail

This is a 1.2 mile busy trail! You’ll find it to be so unique and beautiful. We were able to see wild jack rabbits and other wildlife. We had a chance to do this trail in the light and decided to go back at dark and take night pictures. So gorgeous… just don’t get lost like we did on the way back and get stuck in a wild jack rabbit home. 🙂 You’ll have a story for the grandchildren at least!

Balanced Rock Trail

This looped trail is a 0.3 mile, busy & easy trail! It’s one of the more infamous spots and its easy access makes it a must have photo stop.

Broken Arch Trail

This trail is a 1.7 mile loop trail. It is accessible year-round.  It is an easy trail for all ages and has a beautiful overlook at the end! This is also the same parking lot for Sand Dune Arch Trail.

Sand Dune Arch Trail

This trail is 0.3 mile busy trail but so worth it!  We were lucky enough to hit it when it wasn’t very busy and had a chance to get up close to the beautiful red rocks. So beautiful!

Sand Dune Arch Trail
Sand Dune Arch Trail (1)

 

Sand Dune Arch Trail
Sand Dune Arch Trail (2)


Southern Utah is one of the most uniquely beautiful spots in the world, and despite our packed 4-day trip, we felt like we just scratched the surface. We can’t wait to see what your adventure holds!

2 thoughts on “Best of Southern Utah (Family Style)”

  1. I want to know more about how you made van camping work with a little one. What were your sleeping arrangements? How and where did your baby get to crawl around? Any great tips you could provide for a young family wanting to do the same kind of trip?

    1. Usually when families travel, the kiddos share the bed with the adults or the adults will sleep in the rooftop sleeper tent with the children asleep inside the van. We have lots of other blogs with helpful tips for families. Try searching using the blue magnify glass.

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