I recently stayed at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort for the Women's Getaway Retreat. While that event had a tailored schedule, many of the activities as well as food and lodging were available to guest groups and families.
Located in the high country, just outside the border of Zion National Park, I found Zion Ponderosa to be an excellent landing spot to experience this area of Utah. The drive through the tunnels into Zion Canyon (where most folks visit during a trip to Zion National Park) took about 45 minutes depending on traffic. The Resort was also about 30 miles from the stunning Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, an hour and a half from Bryce Canyon (making it a great day trip option), and less than an hour from Dixie National Forest. It's an hour and forty five minutes from St. George, Utah, 4 1/2 from Salt Lake City, and 3 1/2 from Las Vegas.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is large, beautiful property (4,000 acres) and offered views of open space and the wildlife and access to Zion National Park.
Zion Ponderosa offered several options for families looking for a Southern Utah vacation. From tent/rv campsites, glamping sites (new for summer 2016), cowboy cabins, and western wagons, to cabin suites and large vacation lodges and homes, there were options for multiple budgets and family size and configurations. I stayed in one of the luxury vacation homes, and it exceeded my expectations with full kitchens, room suites, porches and balconies, and comfortable common areas to enjoy with the group. There was also free WiFi.
As a previous reviewer wrote, Zion Ponderosa is not close to big box grocery stores. Families who would want to cook their own food would need to stock their coolers in town before coming onto resort property. I found Ray's Restaurant on grounds, which provides a full buffet breakfast (eggs, sausage, bacon, waffles, along with lighter options of granola and yogurt and bakery offerings), and a full American food menu for lunch and dinner, to serve generous portions at reasonable prices. The kids would be pleased with the kids menu offering typical American comfort food. Parents - try the sweet potato fries! YUM! The Narrows Coffee Bar was also available for those who need a specialty drink.
During the summer months, the poolside grill would be another option for meals on-ground. But, it was not open for the season during my stay.
Multiple options were available for free for guests including the pool and spa, basketball court, ping pong, and horseshoes.
There were also a whole host of adventures and activities that were voucher-based. From ATV rides, horseback rides, guided canyoneering and hiking, to shooting, paintball, and rappelling lessons, there was an adventure for everyone. The resort also had a climbing wall, zipline, miniature golf, and a trampoline. These vouchers were available to be purchased as part of a package.
I really loved the ATV ride (my first time EVER on an ATV!), canyoneering, and shooting (which surprised me as I'm not a gun person at all).
Every staff member I encountered was kind, helpful, and sought to solve any problems or help in any way possible.
The gift shop, located at the front of Ray's Restaurant, had souvenirs, along with any items that families might have forgotten for their Southern Utah adventure and snacks.
I found Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort to be a great option for a family vacation, family reunion, or group event for those who want to explore the beauty of Southern Utah.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort in order to provide information for Trekaroo readers. Although I appreciate the hospitality, all opinions are my own.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort packs a lot of family fun in its remote setting near the east entrance of Zion National Park. A stay at this resort can be tailored to fit any family’s interests, level of adventure, and budget. Accommodations vary from luxury vacation homes and cabin suites to rustic cowboy cabins, western wagons, and camping sites. Furthermore, this resort offers a variety of family friendly activities that range from adventurous pursuits to relaxing endeavors.
My family of five enjoyed a 2 night stay in one of the resort’s cabin suites. The kids loved the idea of having our own little cabin tucked in this remote western landscape, a place to experience our own cowboy adventure. Our cozy cabin suite was built with high beam construction and offered a small living area with sleeper sofa, separate bedroom, kitchenette and private bathroom. The cabin’s kitchenette was small with a mini refrigerator, microwave, sink and coffee maker. The cabin had a nice outdoor barbeque grill, picnic table, and porch ideal for a fun family cook-out. Note that the cabin was not stocked with any dishes, utensils, or charcoal. Therefore, be prepared if you do plan on preparing your own meals.
The cabin suite was a bit snug for my family of five with 3 kids piled together into the sleeper sofa at night. Therefore, if you do have a large family you may want to consider reserving one of the resort’s larger vacation homes.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort has plenty of activities to keep any family busy. These activities are broken out between “open use activities”, which are available without an additional charge, and several fee-based activities. Open use activities include:
• Outdoor swimming pool and hot tub
• Tennis and basketball
• Pool tables, ping pong, and foosball
• Horseshoes, volleyball, and other outdoor games
• Free WI-FI and cable television
Guests can purchase vouchers for fee-based activities which include:
• Zip line rides
• Horseback rides
• ATV riding
• Miniature golf
• Kids camp
• Jeep tours
• Climbing wall
• Bungee trampoline
• Skeet shooting
ACTIVITIES WE LOVED:
First and foremost, the zip line was a big hit with my kids. My 7 and 11 year old were a bit nervous climbing the stairs to the top of the barn outfitted in their helmets and zip line harnesses. But once they saw their Mom conquer the zip line, they soon followed and they felt pretty proud of their accomplishment.
Miniature golf was my 3 year olds favorite activity. She discovered that the course had some secret “tunnels” where the golf balls could travel closer to the holes. She begged us to play each morning and evening. Miniature golf at the resort is a great value since guests are only required to pay once, yet allowed to play as many times as they want during the duration of their stay.
My youngest two kids enjoyed a short horse ride around the horse corrals. My 3 year old was allowed to ride upon the saddle with the ranch hand, and my 7 year old was allowed to ride a horse tied with a lead rope behind the ranch hand. Longer trail rides are offered for adults and kids over the age of 8.
Our visit was in early April so it was too cold to swim in the outdoor unheated pool. However, we did check it out and found that the pool was perfectly family friendly complete with “rock” slides, shallow depths, and plenty of lounging space.
Overall, I loved that we could tailor our activity schedule based on our own whims and desires. All we had to do was approach one of the resort’s friendly ranch hands and request an activity. The ranch hand took care of all the arrangements and pointed us in the right direction.
The resort sits in an isolated location, miles from a grocery store or restaurants. However, there is an onsite restaurant which serves breakfast, dinner, and offers picnic lunches. Prices at the restaurant appeared to be reasonable. If you do choose to prepare your own food, be sure to grocery shop before you arrive since the nearest grocery store is miles away. Also be aware that the mini refrigerators in the cabin suites are quite small, too small to hold a gallon of milk. You may want to consider packing a cooler for larger food items. Ice is available for purchase at the resort.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
• Check out the resort’s website for lodging and activity packages. Activity vouchers are less expensive when purchased with lodging and when purchased in bulk.
• If you plan on visiting Zion National Park, the resort lies 7 miles from the park’s remote east entrance and 30 miles (a beautiful one hour drive) from the park’s visitor center and most of the popular hiking trails.
• The resort sits at higher elevation and is much cooler than the western portion of Zion National Park. Be prepared for the cooler temperatures, especially in the off-season.
• Kid’s camps are available in the summer months for ages 4 to 11.
• Laundry facilities are available at the resort so be sure to pack laundry soap and plenty of quarters. You’ll be amazed how quickly dirty clothes pile up with all the outdoor family fun available.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is a good place to customize your own family vacation. The resort gets 5 stars for plenty of onsite family fun activities, and the resort also gets 5 stars for all of the lodging options available. Decisions, decisions…customize your own family friendly vacation at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort!
Disclosure: Although I received complimentary lodging and activities, my reviews are always my own opinions and are not influenced by resort staff or its affiliates.