Western U.S. Travel: An RV Family Adventure at Zion National Park

Our first RV experience!

By Faith Mellinger, publisher of Macaroni Kid Pasadena, Calif. June 11, 2019

For years I've had this vision of loading up the family and hitting the road in an RV, heading somewhere we've never been before. 

We shared this dream with friends of ours, and the next thing we knew our two families were booked for a week at the Zion River Resort RV Park in Virgin, Utah. 

Please note: This story originally appeared in Macaroni Kid Family Travel in June 2019. As of October 2020, all attractions mentioned in this story remain open, with COVID precautions in place. We urge you to check with locations for the latest information before traveling to that area.

New to the RV/trailer life, we decided to let Zion Trailer Rentals take care of the details. That meant all we had to do to prepare was drive to Utah ourselves, and Zion Trailer Rentals would take care of hooking our trailer up and getting it ready to go at our campsite for us! And upon arrival, all we had to was unpack and get into vacation mode.

That wasn't hard with the two families of five boys -- all under 12 -- two adventurous/outdoorsy firefighter dads, and some courageous (or crazy!) moms ready to take on Zion National Park.  

Our Itinerary

Day one 

Arrive and explore the Zion River Resort RV Park: The kids hit the pool right away! We chose Zion River Resort because it had been recommended by several people as the best RV Park in the area. Along with the kid-friendly pool, they offered daily activities, clean bathrooms, laundry facilities, a general store, and a hot tub!

Day two

Explore Zion National Park: There are several easy family-friendly trails throughout the park. We chose to start off with Emerald Pools, a short 1.2-mile hike from the Zion Lodge (a tram drops you at each starting point for the hike). The kids discovered many good photo ops along the way and we ended with a “rock shelter” view from the base of a waterfall. The National Park Service makes it easy to find a hike that's right for your family by putting all the information about hiking trails right online. 

Day three

Off-road tour: With the dads behind the wheels of our off-road vehicles, our tour guide led us to some incredible view-points, shared insights on local history, and snapped more than a few group photos for us!

Day four

Angel's Landing hike: We headed back to Zion Canyon and this time we were brave enough to tackle a more rigorous hike! We took on the trail leading to one of the world’s most renowned hikes called Angel’s Landing. The first part follows the West Rim Trail, then leads you to a series of switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles.

We ended our hike at Scout Lookout, as the next section of the trail involved steep drops where hikers need to grab hold of a chain to make their way across. (Even courageous moms weren’t letting the kids -- or husbands -- try that one!) 

The views from Scout Lookout were definitely worth the trip -- as were the bribes made to keep my oldest going on this strenuous hike. 

Day five

Bryce Canyon: We hit the road again for the two-hour drive to Bryce Canyon. The drive from Zion to Bryce takes you through the really cool, and sometimes dark, mile-long Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. 

Bryce Canyon is situated at the top of the Grand Staircase, where the famous Toadstool Hoodoos --  formations eroded from the rock by wind, rain, and snow -- are located. The landscape was spectacular, but I won’t say that the drastic drops with three crazy boys didn’t make me a bit nervous. 

Day six

Grafton Ghost Town and Fort Zion: Once bustling, Grafton is now abandoned. The old town is rich in history and is said to be the most photographed ghost town in the West. It has been featured in several films, including 1929’s “In Old Arizona” and the classic “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” We visited the cemetery where the tombstones told stories of old times. Walking through the schoolhouse and abandoned homes, it was easy for us to imagine what life was like for the settlers who lived there. 

We ended our day at Fort Zion for a quick meal, delicious homemade ice cream, and the opportunity to feed a few animals in the petting zoo. 

Day seven

The last day of our adventure: After we unloaded our belongings from the trailer, Zion Trailer Rentals took over. We ended our stay and began the road trip home. All five boys, two husbands, and two tired moms made it home safe after a fun, daring time in Zion. 

Our stay was better than I imagined it would be, filled with fun and adventure as we explored new and different places, experienced a bit of history, and learned about animals and geology unique to the area. Zion Trailer Rentals made it all so easy for us too by having our RV ready and set up for us to move in. All in all, one of the most memorable trips our family has made.