Utah’s Family-Friendly Vacation Community offers National Park Attractions with Resort-Style Comfort
By Lincoln McElwee
Situated in the postcard-perfect southwest of Utah and only three hours by car from Las Vegas, Nevada (five hours from Utah’s capitol up north, Salt Lake City), Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort offers its guests all the amenities of a top-notch resort while staying true to the beautiful ruggedness of its famous next door neighbor: Zion National Park!
Located on 4,000 acres of pristine land and sitting atop a forested plateau with stunning views into Zion National Park, the resort is the perfect embodiment of family-friendly fun. Zion Ponderosa offers daily activities for every member of the family, from the sedimentary type who may simply want to enjoy a spa treatment, swim or play miniature golf to the completely active types who want more hands-on activities, such as canyoneering, hiking and horseback riding.
One of the most convenient aspects of Zion Ponderosa is that the resort offers a kid’s camp for either half or full day activities. The popular camp is run during the summer season, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. What’s more, the camp counselors are chosen based on their own interests in child development, thereby ensuring that counselors are vested into the wonderful camp experience!
During the summer season, the kid’s camp also offers wagon rides around the grounds of the resort. The wagon rides take place in the afternoons and culminate in a Dutch oven dinner around an open camp fire, as well as s’mores and campfire stories. During the day, there are a myriad of activities for kids, including zip lining and ATV tours with miniature ATVs, as well as hiking, swimming, and an entire kid’s room in the recreation barn reserved for children, with TVs, movies, games and other fun activities to keep children occupied and entertained!
By making use of all the amenities the kid’s camp offers for children, adrenaline-loving parents can take part in the daily hikes that begin on the resort’s property and end in the national park itself. That’s right – Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort has about six trail-heads that begin on the property, with many of the trails ending in Zion National Park itself! Guests of the property can even request to be picked up from their lodgings in the morning and dropped off at the trail-head of their choosing. Guest pickup is also available for these hiking excursions.
In addition to the popularity of the resort’s activities, which are so numerous that guests do not even have to leave the grounds of the resort if they so choose, Zion Ponderosa also prides itself on its accommodations, which truly offer something for everyone!
One of the more popular types of lodging, especially for backpackers or those who want a camping experience in the safety of a controlled environment, is the campground lodgings where guests can set up their own tents at designated lots on the property. The campground lodgings are probably as “rugged” as the accommodations get, though guests in reality have access to a coin-operated laundry facility and communal showers. In addition to the tent sites, the campground also offers wagon-style accommodations. These very popular Western Wagons are designed with traditional wagon wheels, round, covered roofs and can sleep up to four people. And just like the tent sites, guests here have access to the showers, restrooms and other amenities of the resort itself.
Zion Ponderosa also provides a full-hookup RV camping site, the closest of its kind near the East Entrance to Zion National Park. RV guests also have access to the other amenities of the resort, as well as having grills and picnic tables right at the RV campsite. This intimate setting ensures that RV guests can relax in the pristine setting of nature, surrounded by the beautiful sky, Utah Junipers and Pinion Pines!
Two other types of accommodation are the Cowboy cabins and cabin suites. The cowboy cabins can sleep up to six guests, but do not include interior bathrooms. As a contrast, the cabin suites offer private bedrooms, wet bars, full bathrooms, and front rooms. Guests can even request queen-sized bunk beds in the cabin suites. The suites also sleep up to six people and even come equipped with fireplaces.
One of the most impressive accommodation types that the resort offers is vacation rental homes. These million dollar homes are built and designed by individuals who own property and houses around the world! Due to the sheer beauty of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, these homes are built and rented out to guests for a specified amount of time, two nights being the minimum. One of the most popular events for renting the vacation homes happens to be family reunions! Some of these homes, for instance, can sleep from 25 to 35 people, and guests share all the amenities of the resort!
For those guests who do choose to remain on-site and enjoy all that the resort has to offer, the day can be filled with miniature golf, trampoline activities, rock climbing for beginners, and zip lining. There are also a variety of “open-use” activities on the grounds, including basketball, billiards/foosball, horse shoes, ping pong, tennis, softball, and volleyball. And depending on the season, the resort also stages an evening rodeo!
The activities that are scheduled throughout the day, and where advance reservations are highly recommended (especially during the summer season), are the ATV tours, canyoneering, hiking shuttles, horseback riding, jeep tours, paintball, rafting, shotgun range practice, wagon rides, and the seasonal Dutch oven dinner.
After all of the excursions both inside Zion National Park itself and on the grounds of the resort, the perfect place to unwind is at Zion Ponderosa’s own restaurant, the Blue Belly Grill! The restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and incredible recipes to create a unique dining experience like none other. Weekly specials, along with the a la carte menu for both breakfast and dinner, ensure that guests have a diverse amount of choices! And the great thing about the grill is that the choices trickle down to a menu just for kids as well. As far as the dinner entrées are concerned, the Cornmeal Crusted Utah Trout is amazingly delicious, as well as the Fish and Chips, a group favorite that is served with English-style chips! Another fun part of the dining experience is that the grill uses paper tablecloths for parties with children. Kids are given crayons to decorate the tablecloths and parents are of course more than welcome to join in on the fun!
So if your family is in the mood for an adventurous vacation filled with the natural beauty of Utah, from the red and white sandstone formations of Zion National Park to the breathtaking beauty of the evening sky during your sunset jeep tour at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Michael Kane, the General Manager, and Julie Millard, the resort’s Reservations Manager, will be sure to make you feel more than welcome! The dedication of the resort’s staff is unparalleled, from the remarkable head chef, Francesca P. Van der Stappen, to the waiters and waitresses serving each meal with a smile. Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is truly a destination par excellence!