The Virgin River flows through the middle of Zion National Park.

Zion National Park

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Zion National Park

Of the famous “Mighty 5” within Utah, Zion National Park was the first park we chose to explore. We selected a scenic boondocking site along the Virgin River, just a few miles east of the park entrance. We had the area to ourselves, for the most part, and the children were free to roam and explore a shallow river, teeming with thousands of round tadpoles.

Zion is truly deserving of its name. It’s a little paradise in the desert–a quiet green oasis along the Virgin River. Steeples of stone soar into the sky above the deep cut canyon floor. Deer, squirrels, and turkeys wander among the visitors, knowing they have nothing to fear.

I think all of our mouths hung agape on our first drive through the park. The variety of landscapes, plants, and geological formations is astonishing. At the visitor center and the museum, we learned a lot about the rich history of the valley. From the ancient Anasazi people, to the late Mormon pioneers, many cultures and people found this place to be a sanctuary and called it home.

View of the night sky from the valley we camped in.

Finding minnows and tadpoles.

Who knew a darking beetle could make kids this happy?

Hiking with new friends to a Junior Ranger program.


My kids scaling up the side of Checkerboard Mesa.

Notice the lack of shoes? She said she could climb better without them. The sandstone does give great traction for climbing.

Some big horn sheep just hanging out, causing an “animal jam”  on the road from gawking camera happy visitors like us.

Cute little beggars.

“Are you SURE you can’t feed me?!”

Don’t worry, we did NOT feed him. We were very impressed at his reach though!

Dripping canyons walls with hanging ferns. In the desert!


Last squirrel picture, I promise… But how cute is a yawning squirrel?!

The “Take a picture of me!” pose.


Deer come up every evening to graze beside playing children and lounging guests at the Zion Lodge.

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