If you are looking for the perfect family vacation get away, consider Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort for your next adventure!
The 4,000 acres of Zion Ponderosa Ranch and Resort is part of a large forested plateau that borders the eastern edge of Zion National Park. Like, literally! That means that you are right in the middle of some of the most amazing and beautiful country in the United States.
Just hours from both Salt Lake City, Utah or Las Vegas, Nevada – easy airports to fly into – the ranch is not only a wonderful place to stay, but it’s surrounded by southern Utah beauty in every direction. If you have had Zion National Park on your bucket list, a stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is the perfect pairing for making your stay extra special.
We love visiting national parks and this little piece of heaven doesn’t disappoint! You have Bryce Canyon on one side and Zion National Park on the other. This means not only will you love your time there, but you can experience adventure on your way in and out of your vacation. So make sure to make the most of your travel time for additional photo opportunities – they are endless!
I highly recommend driving into Zion National Park and the Zion Ponderosa Ranch from one side and leaving from another, that way you’ll get to experience all of the awesome views as part of your Zion adventures!
*Disclosure: Our family travel experience was part of a hosted stay with the folks at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. All opinions are 100% my own.
Lodging at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
Zion Ponderosa Ranch has so many options for families when it comes to lodging accommodations. Choices include RV sites, tent camping (or how about a glamping tent?), new Conestoga wagons, rustic cowboy cabins, cabin rentals and cabin suites with the cutest front porches and even luxury vacation rental homes.
We stayed in one of the vacation home rentals in the Zion Ridge development and let me tell you, it was unbelievable. The first thought I had when we saw the property was what an amazing place it would be for a family reunion. The home that we stayed in sleeps 26 (26!!) and it is lot #65. There are over 20 to choose from with a huge selection of size and sleeping accommodations. Find out more about lodging accommodations at Zion Ponderosa Ranch.
The vacation rentals are all located in a gated community development within walking distance of the main lodge. While they are close to the recreation areas, they are all gorgeous mountain homes that feel like you are in a forest getaway. These deluxe vacation homes would be a wonderful choice if you are traveling with large groups and are looking for the perfect place to have private bedrooms and at the same time, central locations where everyone can come together for meals and activities.
I felt like the home we stayed in was a hotel, except cozier. I lost track of how many bathrooms this home has, but it wasn’t lost on me that many of the rooms have their own full bathroom! The main level of the home has a beautiful rock fireplace that is the centerpiece of the living room and that’s where we spent most of our time as a family. This room also has a huge picture window view of the surrounding landscape.
The home also has a huge kitchen and dining area that would be wonderful for large families or corporate gatherings.
Outside there is a beautiful deck, gas BBQ grill, picnic table and a fire pit.
The master bedroom features a lovely king bed and a great view that can be enjoyed through the sliding glass doors onto the patio deck which had its own hot tub. The views at night are amazing and we loved enjoying them as we sat in the hot tub star gazing among the trees.
Many of the bedrooms and sitting areas have flat-screen satellite tvs and plenty of room for kids to play and stay busy for the entire stay. While I don’t think you’ll want to be online much, they also offer free wi-fi and I was really impressed with how good the service was!
If you are considering a family getaway, definitely consider renting one of these vacation rental homes, they are the perfect choice for a summer time vacation and I can’t imagine how wonderful these properties would be in the fall or late fall. All ages will enjoy this and it’s a great way to reconnect as a family.
Just a beautiful home! I can’t stress enough what a great location this is for the whole family! SO many bedrooms, twin bunk beds, loft beds, sofa beds, daybeds… this home sleeps over 20 people and easily at that!
Make sure to watch my video tour of the Zion Ridge vacation rental home that we stayed in at Zion Ponderosa Ranch as words just don’t do it justice. This video tour is the perfect way to show you just how amazing this property is:
Activities at Zion Ponderosa Ranch
The activities at the ranch are endless. There is an activity barn located on the property where you will find the guides and ranch hands to help you decide which activities to do. There are many free activities included in your stay on the Ponderosa Ranch property like miniature golf, a beautiful swimming pool, tennis courts and of course, endless hiking and exploring. Mini golf, anyone?
Some activities like rock wall climbing and zip lining have an additional cost but we found those to be very reasonably priced. My kids loved the climbing wall and the zip line was an activity we did as a family, definitely a must do if you stay at the ranch.
Wondering how much it costs to climb a rock wall or test your courage on the zip line? We were surprised that these activities are only $10 per person!
They also offer paint ball sessions, a shot gun range, star gazing, virtual reality experiences, a trampoline bungee … something for everyone!
East Zion Adventures and Excursions
There are also other adventures and excursions that you can book through East Zion Adventures including horseback riding trail rides, jeep tours (including a sunset jeep tour!), canyoneering, guided hikes, and more!
Probably the most exciting things that we did were the excursions booked through East Zion Adventures.
Horseback Riding at Zion Ponderosa Ranch
My happy place is in the saddle, so I will choose a horseback ride no matter where I am! The horse barns are located right on the Zion Ponderosa Ranch property. Guests can saddle up and take off right from the ranch and enjoy a scenic ride through some beautiful country with amazing views.
Nothing is better for the soul. I promise.
Oh! And they have goats!!
East Zion Adventures Jeep Tours
We ventured out on an early morning Jeep Tour. I highly recommend this for a fun and exciting way to get to some of the most amazing and unique landscape! Your jeep guide will drive you to a few incredible vantage points, where you’ll be blown away by the beauty and grandeur of Zion and the surrounding national parks and wilderness areas.
East Zion Adventures Slot Canyon Adventure
Probably my favorite family activity was our slot canyon hiking adventure. Our guide Stetson drove us via UTV into the back country and to the mouth of a dramatic slot canyon. I’m not gonna lie – it was challenging at points but also totally do-able. It was neat to see each of us face moments of doubt and then realize we could do it! (HUGE thank you to our amazing guide Stetson, for talking me off the ledge, literally! LOL!)
I can’t recommend the slot canyon hiking experience in Zion enough. This particular slot canyon hike took about 2 hours from start (leaving the ranch) to finish. The reward of finishing your first slot canyon hike is the best feeling. We all loved this adventure and I think it’s especially a fantastic family activity for parents of teenagers.
As you can see, there are so many adventures to be had when you stay at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. Whether off or on the property, there are spectacular views in every direction. You’ll also enjoy just spending time in the surrounding mesa area, plus there are several trails that you can take right from the ranch itself.
Zion Ponderosa Resort’s activities are endless – you won’t be bored, I promise!
Ray’s Restaurant is the on-site restaurant and it’s located right inside the main lodge.
They offer a free breakfast for guests (this might depend on the type of stay you book, but definitely ask about it). It was so nice to enjoy a great breakfast before we headed out for the day. The breakfast was buffet style which convenient because there was such a large breakfast variety to choose from. There is also a little coffee shop in case you enjoy fancy coffees, like I do.
Ray’s Restaurant lunch and dinner menu options are really good as well. Here are a few of our favorites:
We love off season travel, so I asked the folks from Zion Ponderosa Ranch about the off season and was told that it normally begins around mid-October and runs through mid-March. They do tend to be busy during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, so if you are thinking of traveling during these times of year, I highly suggest calling to check on reservations.
The holidays would be magical in this part of the country!
Zion National Park
And, of course, all of this takes place just minutes away from Zion National Park. As I mentioned above, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort actually borders the east entrance of Zion National Park, so you are perfectly situated for some unforgettable adventure!
How to Purchase Shuttle Tickets into Zion National Park
The friendly staff at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort can help assist you in planning your days in Zion, but I highly recommend starting with purchasing your Zion Canyon Shuttle Tickets and spending some time down in Zion Canyon. Tickets are only $2 per person, but they are required right now due to Covid restrictions (of course this might change depending on when you are traveling) but these guidelines were in place at the time of our visit.
If you can, I suggest planning at least a day in Zion National Park and taking the shuttle as early in the day as possible.
The Zion shuttle will give you access along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to areas including Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail and Angels Landing, the Riverside Walk, and the Narrows. You can get on and off the shuttle as you once you have purchased your Zion shuttle tickets and have your shuttle wrist band. Face masks must be worn on the shuttle buses and in queue lines at all time, at least for now.
Hiking Back to the Narrows at Zion National Park
We took the shuttle all the way to the last stop and then hiked up to the entrance of the Narrows, which was a fun way to start the day. We then worked our way back to some other hikes (you’ll be able to see the hike locations and stops clearly posted on each shuttle).
The views are spectacular and you’ll probably come across some fun wildlife during your hike. It’s against the law to feed the animals (huge fines if you get caught!) but they are sure fun to see. This little guy followed us for about a mile of our hike, and we really enjoyed having him along for the journey. Clearly he was hopeful we’d consider breaking the rules!
We took the Zion shuttle back to the main lodge in the canyon around noon and went in for a wonderful lunch. The Zion Lodge also happens to be on the same stop that has the Emerald Pools hikes, which is what we did after we ate in the indoor restaurant at the lodge. If you do dine a the lodge, might I suggest the the chicken caesar salad – it’s amazing!
More Tips for Hiking in Zion National Park
- My biggest tip for taking the shuttle and hiking in the canyon would be to get to the shuttle early so you can spend the entire day.
- Wear layers. It was chilly when we started out (and much of the hike is in shade due to the large rock formations) but it also gets quite hot, so you might be peeling off layers as you go. This is where a backpack comes in handy as well.
- Make sure to have plenty of water and snacks – you’ll be glad you did.
- Plan on spending some time in the lodge. There is an indoor restaurant, gift shop and also an outdoor food kiosk where you can purchase food to eat in the large picnic areas.
- Be flexible. Due to the nature of “nature” – trails often close and your original plans might fall through. No worries, there is plenty to do once you get down in the canyon.
- Most importantly, take time to take in the little things and all of the beauty this gorgeous country has to offer!
More Travel Tips and Tricks
Looking for more favorite family travel tips and tricks? Make sure to check out our other travel stories and adventures:
The creative and frugal mind behind She Saved for almost 12 years now, Keri Lyn shares her adventures in parenting along with her love for family travel, country living and brand marketing. A self-proclaimed “brand loyalist”, Keri Lyn is known for her strong and enthusiastic voice when it comes to the products and brands that she loves. Passionate about family and the challenge of raising good humans (through the teen years, no less!) Keri Lyn has also served as a brand ambassador to many brands including her time as a Hilton Mom Voyage travel writer and currently an O Mag Insider for O, The Oprah Magazine and the 2019 recipient the O-verall Contribution O-ward.