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5 Epic Family Friendly Hikes in Southern Utah

Author: Christina McEvoy

Navajo-Queens Garden Loop, Bryce Canyon NP

Navajo Queens Garden trail

We love exploring Southern Utah for its dramatic desert landscapes. So many places to explore in a small geographic area–from Arches National Park, Capital Reef, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and more. Every time we travel down there, there is never enough time to explore all that we want to see.

We’ve narrowed down our top 5 favorite hikes that are great with kids (granted some may be more suitable with slightly older children), but nevertheless, these hikes are awesome and family friendly. Plus, not only are they beautiful, they are FUN for kids and adults alike.

This is the must-do hike  if you are in Bryce Canyon and only have time for one short hike. Note though, it can get crowded, so our #1 tip about this hike is to start as early in the morning as you can. Plus, if you are there during the summer months, you avoid the heat. So, win, win.

This hike is actually two different trails connected together, so you can choose to do just the Navajo trail or the Queens Garden loop for an even shorter hike. The Navajo Trail starts at Sunset Point and descends from the canyon rim to the floor and then up again (tip: hiking the trail clockwise is easiest!).

One of the most stunning views along this trail is Wall Street, which is found after traversing some switchbacks along the trail. The Queens Garden Loop is probably the easiest trail down into the Bryce amphitheater. The trailhead is located on the south side of Sunrise Point. If you combine the Navajo trail-Queen’s Garden loop together, (which is just a little under 4 miles RT) the best and easiest option is to start at the Navajo Loop Trail Head at Sunset Point, leaving the canyon on the less steep Queen’s Garden Trail and returning at Sunset Point.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch trail

Delicate Arch is just iconic. I mean, it’s on the Utah license plate! And you have to see this amazing natural structure in person, it is even more incredible. The trail is around 3 miles round trip, a little bit of elevation climb, but totally do-able with young kids.

There isn’t a lot of shade on this hike, so if you come during the hotter seasons, bring LOTS of water. Once you reach the arch, the landscape and trail opens up and there is plenty of room to run around, climb the rocks, or just sit and enjoy the view.

Peek-a-boo & Spooky Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante

Peekaboo Spooky Gulch

If you’re up for a SERIOUS adventure, these slot canyons are for you. Located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, these slot canyons are found 26 miles down the famous Hole-in-the-Rock Road off Highway 12. The entire route on Hole-on-the-Rock Road is an extremely rugged washboard road with sand traps and the occasional rut. Though vans and cars can tackle the route (driving slowly), a four-wheel drive vehicle with good suspension is recommended.

Once at the parking area of the trailhead, you will find the start of the trail. This trail is not well marked, so it’s a good idea to stop at the Ranger Station in the town of Escalante and get a detailed map of the area along with an explanation of landmarks along the trail. Peek-a-boo can be combined with Spooky Gulch to make it a loop hike.

 

Spooky is well-named and infamous for how dark it gets when deep in this slot canyon, and its extremely narrow walls. Parts of the canyon are so narrow, it will require you to turn sideways and shimmy your way through. We can’t recommend this hike enough for adults and older kids (ages 6 and up) who want to do something truly adventurous.

Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park

Angel’s Landing is often named one of the world’s best hikes. And for good reason–it offers epic views and quite the adrenaline rush too! This is a hike we would not recommend for children under the age of 6 or those that have an extreme fear of heights.

This hike is around 5 miles RT, but climbs quite a bit in elevation, around 1,500 feet. There are some steep switchbacks going up, so we recommend taking lots of break and lots of water (and snacks!). This trail can be very busy during peak tourist season, so go early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The last 0.5 mile of the hike is the hairy part–you climb up the spine of a rock cliff that juts down almost 2,000 feet.

Luckily there are chains to hold onto (which we suggest doing!), but don’t look down, you might talk yourself out of climbing the remaining portion of the hike. It’s worth every effort reaching the top though! The views overlook the entire Zion valley and it is nothing short of spectacular. Angel Landing is not a hike, it is an EXPERIENCE.

Angel's Landing trail

Willis Creek, near Grand Staircase-Escalante

Willis Creek Slot Canyon is located off Skutumpah Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (about a 40 min drive from Bryce Canyon). This easy, mellow trail is about 4 miles RT and follows a flat, stream-bed path through some amazing slot canyon with narrow smooth, curvaceous cliff walls. If you love slot canyons, but don’t want to climb or shimmy your way through one (or have claustrophobia in tight spaces), this a great slot canyon that will satisfy your sense of adventure! It’s a great hike in the heat of summer too because you are often shaded by the tall cliff walls surrounding you, and better yet, you are walking in shallow water the entire time (kids love this especially)!

Willis Creek trail
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