Utah is famously family-friendly, and the national parks all have programs for children (generally Memorial Day-Labor Day). Junior Ranger programs are essentially workbooks that will keep kids occupied.
- Zion National Park: The Zion Nature Center offers daily programs on geology, animals, and ecosystems; short hikes on weekdays may include lessons on using a global positioning system (GPS) unit. Horseback riding is a hit with kids ages seven and older; trail rides start at the corrals near Zion Lodge. Or spend an afternoon or evening at the Zion Canyon Giant Screen Theatre.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Fantastically sculpted rocks give even the stodgiest hikers a child’s sense of imagination. Wander down the Queen’s Garden Trail and make up your own names for the rock formations.
- Canyonlands National Park: The short Cave Spring Trail, in the Needles District, gives hikers a chance to scamper across slickrock, scale ladders up cliffs, examine pictographs, and visit an old cowboy line camp. Stop by the visitors center for an Explorer Pack loaded with binoculars, a hand lens, a notebook, and other naturalist tools.
- Arches National Park: A ranger-led hike in the Fiery Furnace requires a bit of hiking experience and agility; children under age five are not permitted, but older kids will enjoy the scenery and the scrambling.
- Moab: Cap off a visit to canyon country with a raft trip down the Colorado River. Rent rafts and life jackets for the put-in at Fisher Towers, 23 miles north. With quiet stretches punctuated by white water, it’s a good bet for families.
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