Hi! Planning a trip to Zion during Christmas with 2 young kids. How many days do you suggest we stay? What is there to see?
Hi Diane -
Yours is a tough question as a great deal of what to do/see will depend on you and you family's abilities, and weather conditions at the time of your trip. Conditions can change very quickly in winter from relatively mild and dry to cold and snow/ice packed and there's just no way to predict what it's going to be like a month from now.
Other than short stays just to tour the lower canyon and some of the upper roads, most visitors go to the park to hike. Again, condition of the trails is going to depend on the weather: the easy ones should be fine but also could involve some slogging through snow, and others could be very muddy if there's been rain/melting snow. Roads in some of the higher elevations could be dry or could be snow-packed or have icy spots.
The park's 2013/14 winter visitor's guide isn't out until the end of the month but you might want to take a look at last season's just to get some ideas?
Watch this page for this winter's brochure:
The easy hikes are listed - and are good choices with small children - and some of the moderates may be fine as well depending on conditions. The best idea at ANY time of the year is to go to the Visitor Center (closed Christmas Day) first and talk to a ranger about suitable activities for you and your family's abilities. Do go prepared for any sort of weather - warm jackets, boots with a good tread, mittens, hats, etc - and you'll have a good time.
You might also consider a drive up to Bryce for the day, if conditions allow? It's only a couple of hours from Zion and It will be colder as the elevation is quite a lot higher but will be beautiful, snow or not.
You have had a couple of good answers so far. One thing nice about this time of year is that there are very few people, and you can drive into the park yourself. Depending on the ages of your children, there are short hikes that may be good to do. Riverside Walk is a mile paved trail (one way) along the Virgin River and is a pleasant walk. This paved trail has spectacular scenery and is one of the most popular trails. One point along the trail is over 1,000 feet deep and less than 20 feet wide. I highly agree with goodfish that you should ask for advice at the visitor center, although as she stated, it is closed on Christmas Day.
There is an IMAX theater in Springdale, but I do not know if they are open on Christmas Day. I checked their web-page to see what is playing, but they don't have much listed, other than their permanent film. Their web page is [original link]
You could contact them to see what would be playing, and their schedule to see if there is anything appropriated for your children.
Yep, I'd already checked the theater and it's not running anything between Nov. 22 and March: