You’ve already made the decision to #OptOutside in Zion on Black Friday but you’re not sure how to spend your day. The one thing you do know for sure? You don’t want to spend it fighting the crowds at the mall. And if you do have to wait in line somewhere, you want the views to be worth it!
When REI decided to give their employees the day off on Black Friday 2015 instead of opening the doors to masses of holiday shoppers, they encouraged time spent outdoors in nature. Here are 10 ideas to help you make the most of your #OptOutside in Zion adventures.
1. Visit Zion National Park
Even blanketed beneath a dusting of freshly fallen snow, Zion National Park is a favorite southern Utah destination over Thanksgiving weekend. Visitors come to see iconic rock formations such as Checkerboard Mesa, The Great White Throne, and Court of the Patriarchs, and to explore Zion Canyon where many trailheads are located. Hiking trails at Zion National Park range from easy to strenuous, so there’s something for just about everyone. Check with rangers at the Visitor Center for current trail closures and conditions.
2. Day Trip to Bryce Canyon
Located just 75 minutes away, Bryce Canyon National Park is a perfect half-day or full-day excursion for Zion Ponderosa guests wanting to explore this idyllic, otherworldly landscape. Bryce Amphitheater is home to the greatest concentration of hoodoos on earth, which can be viewed from viewpoints along the Scenic Drive, or up close by hiking Navajo Loop or Queen’s Garden, two of the park’s premiere trails. Park elevation ranges from 6,500 feet to over 9,000 feet, so expect some snow this Thanksgiving weekend. Hikers planning to trek amongst the hoodoos should consider wearing traction devices for safer hiking. As always, check on trail conditions before heading out.
3. Sledding at Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Encompassing 3,730 acres at an elevation of 6,000 feet, this state park features massive coral-colored sand dunes surrounded by soaring red sandstone cliffs and juniper forests. The sand dunes offer some of the best ATVing around but for a totally unique winter activity, try sand sledding instead of snow sledding!
4. Explore the Slot Canyons of the Grand Staircase
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument begins about 30 minutes from Zion Ponderosa. Accessible by well-graded dirt roads that are generally passable by most vehicle types (weather permitting), the Grand Staircase is home to Peek-a-Boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch. The two slot canyons are located within minutes of each other, about 26 miles south of Escalante on the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Peek-a-boo Gulch is a fun, rock-scrambling slot canyon experience in contrast to Spooky Gulch’s deep, dark, narrow twists and turns. Combine them both for an exciting loop.
5. #OptOutside in Zion with a Guided Canyoneering Adventure
If it’s your first time exploring slot canyons, a guided canyoneering adventure is the way to go. Guided canyoneering tours led by East Zion Adventures start with a safety lesson before venturing into secret slot canyons for a rappelling, rock scrambling, hiking adventure.
6. Hike to Observation Point
Most hikers to Observation Point make the 4-mile trek from the Weeping Rock trailhead in Zion Canyon, with a challenging 2,148-foot incline on the ascent. We have a better way! From Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s property, there’s a park boundary trailhead that follows a gently rolling course across the forested plateau to Observation Point. This 3.5-mile walk skips the steep incline but rewards with the same incredible view overlooking Zion National Park from the edge of a 2,200-feet precipice.
7. Radio Tower Jeep Tour
Exploring on foot is great, but exploring by Jeep takes you farther faster! Experience the beauty of Zion National Park from above as you ascend East Zion’s backcountry on a thrilling Jeep adventure. The 2-hour Radio Tower Jeep Tour provides incredible views of Zion and the surrounding area including Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Cedar Mountain and more.
8. Horseback Ride
Zion Ponderosa was once home to a pioneer logging camp. Many of the old pioneer trails remain and are used to explore the rugged high country on horseback. All horseback rides at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort are conducted by East Zion Adventures.
9. Sunset Jeep Tour
There’s no better way to end your #OptOutside day (or any day!) than with a Sunset Jeep Tour. Ascend to one of the highest points of East Zion and watch the sky explode in brilliant shades of red and orange as the sun sets over Zion. Enjoy incredible views plus snacks and amazing stories from your private adventure guide.
10. Gift An Experience
Fighting the 3 a.m. Black Friday madness isn’t at the top of your bucket list so why not share an adventure that is? This holiday season give something they’ll remember forever – an experience at Zion Ponderosa, one of America’s great adventure and scenic destinations on the border of Utah’s Zion National Park. Click here to book your Zion Ponderosa adventure.