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Pa'rus Trail and Zion Canyon Drive
This is a great family ride, combining paved bike trail and road. Going up the canyon to the end of the road (Temple of Sinewava), you'll spend 2 miles on the paved Pa'rus Trail, then 6 miles on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive road. You'll gain 450 feet of elevation. It's not a difficult ride, but it will take a while, so the kids will appreciate a few breaks from pedaling. Depending on your energy level, you can take the kids on a few side hikes as a break from biking. These range from a quick break (Court of the Patriarchs, about 150 feet) to tough major climbs (Angel's Landing, 5 miles and about 1500 vertical feet). The riverside walk at the Temple of Sinewava is a paved 1-mile stroll to the mouth of the Virgin Narrows, a nice end-of-ride hike for your youngsters. Zion Canyon is a fee area -- pay your entree fee before starting your bike ride.
|The trip up Zion Canyon starts at the parking lot on the right side of the
road, just before the toll both for Zion National Park. You can
get to the Pa'rus trail by taking the dirt singletrack that leaves the
north end of the parking lot. Ride this trail into the South Campground (about
1/4 mile), then find the Virgin River on the main campground road.
The paved Pa'rus Trail starts right alongside the river. It's wide and flat enough that towing a bike trailer full of toddlers is NO problem. You'll go through the two Zion campgrounds and cross the Virgin River, Oak Creek, and Pine Creek.
Once you arrive at the Zion - Mount Carmel Highway, it's time to cross the road and ride north up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. That's the road that goes left. (Right takes you up steep switchbacks to the Mt. Carmel Tunnel, a stiff climb with a good chance you'll wind up underneath a Winnebago.) During peak season, shuttle buses go by every few minutes, but otherwise the road is yours. (Off-season -- example, March -- cars are allowed into this part of the canyon, which makes riding with young children a little unnerving.)
Food and drink are available at Zion Lodge, about three miles before the end of the canyon.
Getting there: Heading south on I-15, take the exit for Highway 17 to Toquerville and La Verkin. In La Verkin, watch for Highway 9 to Zion. It will turn off on your left. Continue east to Springdale. Just past the Zion Amphitheaters (on your right), you'll see the entrance station to Zion National Park. Pull into the parking lot on your right, just before the fee stations. Alternatively, go to the South Campground, just inside the park. Find the paved trail along the Virgin River.
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