Epic Family RV Trip: Zion and The Grand Canyon in 5 Days

By Melissa Moyles

Happy May! I can’t believe it is almost summer. The last 4 months have flown by thanks to a few amazing trips. My husband and I have talked of a family RV trip since long before we had kids. Now that the girls are 6,8, and 9, it was the perfect time to visit out west! We spent 5 days traveling from Vegas to Zion to The Grand Canyon and back and I will share all the details.

Day 1: Fly into Las Vegas and drive to Zion

We flew into Las Vegas Airport and found an RV rental 10 minutes away by taxi. We had never RV’d before so wanted to start smallish with a 32 ft vehicle.

The 3 hour drive to Zion took us through Nevada, Arizona, and Utah and was uneventful thanks to my husband setting up a hot spot so the girls could watch Netflix. we stopped at a Walmart close to Zion for all our food and miscellaneous supplies.

Our first RV Trip!

We arrived at our first RV park around 5 pm, Zion River Resort. It had full hook up so while Jared figured out water and electric and sewage, I set up camp and made dinner. The RV park had a playground and kids were everywhere so the girls were happy to run after a long travel day. I was happy to relax with a beer.

Living that RV Park Life

Day 2: Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The RV park was pretty close to the park entrance and thankfully they had a shuttle. Make sure you call ahead to book it because while it is included, it can fill up fast. We decided to start our day with an easy hike to get our legs warm. It was 20 degrees when we left the RV park at 7am but 9 it had warmed up to 50 degrees!

We started with the Riverside Walk which, as it’s name states, follows the path of the Virgin River. This would be a great walk for small children or elderly as it was very flat and under 2 miles there and back. The best part was it ended at the beginning of the Narrows trail so we were able to see other hikers embarking on their journey through the River in full waders. I would love to go back to Zion in the summer and try out the Narrows myself. During the spring, because of melting snow, the water level is too high and fast and cold for the kiddos.

Zion National Park – Riverside Walk, The Narrows Trailhead
Zion National Park – Riverside Walk

After a snack break, we embarked on our 2nd morning hike – The Emerald Pools. There is a lower, middle, and upper Emerald Pools and they are supposedly listed as intermediate. For my girls, they were just the right level of difficulty with a 2.5 mile roundtrip hike to all 3.

Much of this hike however is walking straight uphill over and around boulders so make sure you are wearing lots of layers and proper shoes. Also pack TONS of water. I promise the view is worth it.

Zion National Park – Middle Emerald Pools Trail
Zion National Park – Upper Emerald Pools

After our morning hikes, some hot showers and naps were in order. All cleaned up, we headed out for a Safari. It’s exactly like it sound, we sat in the back of a pick up truck and drove around Zion on a guided Zion Jeep Tour. Our guide was awesome and made us take pictures at all the “instagram spots”. Check out my 6 year old sitting in this Y tree over Zion.

Zion Jeep Tours

Whenever I’m talking to a local, I always ask what food is famous in the area. Apparently in Utah, there is a thing called a Dirty Soda. If you remember making suicides on the fountain as a kid, it’s basically an elevated version of that. We didn’t get a chance to check it out but Swig is 100% on my list next time I’m in Utah.

Day 3: Drive to The Grand Canyon

The South Rim Grand Canyon

The day was finally here! We were going to see one of the Greatest Natural Wonders of the world! We headed out early because although Google said it was a 4 hour drive, we expected differently. Leaving Zion, you have to travel through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. Up until this point, we had only seen the East side of Zion. Entering into West Zion is an entirely different experience. Instead of the beautiful orange terrain being in the distance, the boulders were right upon you. We stopped multiple times for the girls to climb and run and to appreciate the beautiful landscape.

There are a few things we did not get to do on Day 3 that I would recommend. Firstly, just outside of Zion is the ghost town Grafton. These towns are sprinkled all over the western frontier and I have always wanted to visit one. Our RV was too tall for the bridge clearance. Next time!

https://www.americansouthwest.net/utah/zion/grafton_ghost_town.html

Secondly, to break up the drive from Zion the South Rim, I would have LOVED to stop at Antelope Canyon. To enter these Slot Canyons requires a tour and we did not plan enough time in advance. We will definitely be returning to explore!

https://www.azcentral.com/story/travel/arizona/road-trips/2021/08/12/antelope-canyon-reopening-2021/5539875001/

After 6 hours (yes 6!), we finally arrived at our destination – Grand Canyon Airport. Now the girls knew every part of this trip except one. Thanks to a generous gift from my Aunt, we planned a Maverick Helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. As we had been driving all day, the girls had yet to spy the Grand Canyon. Flying over the rim was nothing short of breathtaking. My photos will never do it justice but I will try.

Ready for our flight!
Maverick Helicopter Tour
Helicopter view from above the Grand Canyon

On a high from our incredible Helicopter tour, we headed to our next camping spot which was right in the park – Trailer Village RV Park.

Day 4: The Grand Canyon

South Kaibab Trail Grand Canyon

For our full day in the Grand Canyon, we made no solid plans. Very unlike me but we wanted some breathing room in our schedule to just enjoy the view. Just like Zion River Resort, Trailer Village runs shuttles to take you to the visitor center. We started our first hike bright and early at 8am.

I had visited the Grand Canyon once before as a teenager but had never hiked down inside. That has always been a dream so we searched for the shortest and easiest hike our girls could manage. The south Kaibab Trail was a winner!

If you are afraid of heights, or your crazy kids falling, The Kaibab trail is definitely anxiety inducing. The path is narrow and steep with the whole canyon opening up a few feet from you.

If you walk a mile down this trail you will end at Ooh Aah Point. The wind was absolutely whipping and only my middle and I braved it down there for pictures.

Grand Canyon – Ooh Aah Point

You can continue down into the canyon from Ooh Aah Point but we decided to head back to the rim. We then spent an hour walking the rim trail, ending at a Ranger Choice Talk which are done daily at 11am at the Yavapai Point Amphitheater. We learned so much about the formation of the Canyon and got what I’m sure will our Christmas card photo this year!

Day 5: Drive back to Las Vegas and fly home

Our last morning of the trip was Easter and wouldn’t you know it, the Easter bunny came! After basket excitement and a campsite breakfast, we hit the road for the 4+ hour ride back to Las Vegas.

The Hoover Dam – https://travelnevada.com/historical-interests/hoover-dam/

An hour short of Las Vegas, there’s a little known site known as the Hoover Dam. Ever heard of it? On a whim we decided to swing by. Unfortunately, it is not the best set up in an RV with pedestrians walking everywhere. So we pulled into a parking lot and spent just a few minutes taking it in. Again, another stop to add to our next trip!

In summary, 5 days was a perfect first RV trip and enough time to enjoy both Zion and the Grand Canyon. I can’t wait to check out more National Parks by RV and will share all our adventures here at 3DaughtersDIY.

Best, Melissa and Girls

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