Posts Tagged ‘Resort’

Trails, Trails, Trails

Friday, December 13th, 2013

As an early Christmas present, my husband bought our very own Utility Vehicle, a Polaris RZR 4 1000, thanks to our recent stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.  Now, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort didn’t buy us a UTV (although we would’ve appreciated it) but it was there that James first fell in love.

My husband's early Christmas gift.

My husband’s early Christmas gift.

On a vacation in August we rented a UTV to explore some of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s amazing trails. We liked it so much we came back in the fall to ride some more. 


A UTV differs from an ATV in several technical ways, but the one that is most important to me is the number of people who can ride. A typical ATV or 4 wheeler can only hold one or two people, but in a UTV up to six people can ride safely. It was big enough we brought our kids in the back. They didn’t love it as much as their daddy, asking to play on our phones and go back to the mini golf course, but I’m sure with time they will enjoy it more.

UTV with the whole family

UTV with the whole family.

The Recreation Barn offers guided ATV and UTV tours in addition to hourly or daily rentals. If an all terrain vehicle isn’t your transportation of choice, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort also offers Jeep and Wagon Tours.


The resort has an extensive system of trails with access to vistas of Checkerboard Mesa, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Jolley Gulch. With over 200 miles of ATV and UTV trails, there’s sure to be something interesting to see.

View of Jolley Gulch in Zion National Park arrived at after an hour UTV ride and a fifteen minute walk.

View of Jolley Gulch in Zion National Park arrived at after an hour UTV ride and a fifteen minute walk.


If you’re interested in access to a new side of Zion National Park, try it from the seat of an ATV or UTV. Off road vehicles are not allowed in park boundaries, but the views from the surrounding areas are amazing.


Read more of Susan Strayer’s mountain mom adventures at

Observation Point Trail from Zion Ponderosa

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

View from Observation Point.

Observation Point is one of my favorite hikes in Zion National Park.  Although the park is full of stunning vistas, various levels of hiking trails, and an abundance of water and vegetation, Observation Point remains my favorite.  Why?  Well, accessing it from our property here at Zion Ponderosa makes it easy and the hike is filled with diverse landscaping and spectacular views.

When hiking this trail from the park shuttles, it takes about 4-5 hours roundtrip and it’s best to begin early in the morning to begin your ascent before the sun bakes you.  I chose access from the east boundary of the park, which eliminates hiking up the mountain, but does not compromise the experience in any way.  In fact, about halfway to Observation Point there is a great spot to sit, rest, take photos, and soak in the beauty of the canyon to the right.  I especially like this spot just after dinner because the sun is beginning to set and the colors in the canyon awe me each and every time.  Another benefit to accessing the trail from our property is that it takes about 3-4 hours roundtrip.  When you have limited time on your vacation and want to experience the most you can, saving time on the hike is golden.

View of Zion Canyon and the Virgin River in Utah.

The hike is more like a long walk, which makes it great for all ages and skill levels to enjoy.  On the way back I passed a couple with three young children wearing flip flops, on their way to Observation Point.  The kids were all armed with water bottles, something I highly recommend you take – at least two per person.  Although you walk through a forest and some shady spots, most of the trail is open to the sun.

Don’t forget your camera when you go on this or other hikes because you won’t find this kind of beauty in any photo studio.  If you are interested in portraits with everyone in the group included, our photographer finds these assignments some of her favorites!

Portrait photography at Zion Ponderosa.

Once you arrive here and settle in to one of our vacation homes, cabins, your RV, or tent, visit our Adventure Guides in the Recreation Barn to help plan your activities, whether it be one of our hikes, canyoneering, ATV rides, horseback riding – or whatever you can imagine, our team is here to make your visit to Zion Ponderosa full of unforgettable moments.

Making Father’s Day Memories

Friday, June 11th, 2010

In 2004, Tom and his family came to Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort for a family reunion.  This past Tuesday he brought his family back here after spending a few nights in the Grand Canyon.  They’ve rented one of our vacation homes through Saturday morning, when they return to their home in Corpus Christi, Texas.

After watching Tom with his family, especially his sons, I realized that Father’s Day is being spent here at Zion Ponderosa, just a week earlier than what’s on the calendar.   Not only was it wonderful to see them participate in the various adventure activities here, but it’s been a privilege to tag along on a couple of their excursions.  I was never without a photo opportunity that included smiles, laughter, and pride of a father for a son.

Instead of tagging along one of our horseback trail rides yesterday, Kourtney, one of our Adventure Activities Guides suggested I go to the rifle range with a small group.  We piled in one of the shuttle vans and Colton, another guide and avid hunter from Mesa, Arizona, drove us to the shooting range located on one of the mountains here.  I got to meet and get to know Tom and his 13 year old son, Jacob on the ride there.  Tom cracked a joke about Jacob barely being out of diapers the last time they were here.

The session began with a short, detailed lesson with safety instructions before Colton set them up at the range with shotguns.  I’ve been to a few trap shoots in my life, but none with such a beautiful view, silence, and a valley that the “pigeons” are thrown across.  I was in awe.  The interaction between the two men with Jacob kept my camera’s eye on them.  Not once did it wander to the vista behind us without someone in the photo.

Colton led the two in a couple competitions – both shooting at the same pigeon, throwing out two pigeons at once, and an overall best shot.  Before the last round of five shots, Tom and Jacob were tied at eight each.  The end result was Tom winning by one.  Maybe Jacob let him win as a Father’s Day gift.

First thing this morning I signed up to tag along on a guided ATV ride.  To my surprise, it was Tom again.  This time he was with his 17 year old son, Zachary.  After getting permission to ride along with my camera, our guide took us through some instructions and safety guidelines before assigning us each to an ATV.

Kourtney led our private group with Zach directly behind her.  She guided us on the Checkerboard Mesa ATV trail which takes us to the Zion National Park property line with a spectacular view of the east entrance to the park.  She recognized Zach’s ability to handle the ATV, so she kicked it up a notch and pushed us to the next level.  Tom drives a motorcycle and Zach is, well, a 17 year old young man, so no complaints or fear from either of them.

On the final part of the ride, Tom and Kourtney discussed a photo opportunity.  He and Zach switched places before our “final descent” where Tom was able to get some take-home shots of Zach riding down and up through the trail.  What a great memory to have and to keep – for all of us.  I thank Tom and his sons for making memories with us and for letting me witness it.  It makes me wish that my dad were here at Zion Ponderosa to spend Father’s Day with me!