Explore: Family friendly adventure on Zion’s doorstep; Zion Ponderosa

ADVERTORIAL / SOUTHERN UTAH – The thousands of acres that make up the property of Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, which sits just outside of Zion National Park’s eastern border, provide an extraordinary framework for family-friendly adventure.

Guests can practice their climbing skills on the recreation building's climbing walls at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Mount Carmel, Utah, May 18, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Guests can practice their climbing skills on the recreation building’s climbing walls at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Mount Carmel, Utah, May 18, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The resort, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary this month, offers something fun for nearly every age with on-site activities ranging from ping pong and billiard tables, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, miniature golf and swimming to a bungee trampoline and a zip line.

Imagine soaring on a zip line across an open field, the wind whipping through your hair as you glide through the air, taking in sweeping views of nature … and that is only the beginning of your day.

One of the property’s most popular activities, according to Recreation Manager Jake Millard, the zip line launches guests from the tower of the resort’s recreation building and sends them sailing more than a football field’s length across an open field where they are gently caught and safely returned to the ground.

Friendly and knowledgeable staff guide guests – who can range in weight from 30-250 pounds – as they put on safety gear, climb the tower stairs and leap off the deck en route to conquering fears and having the adventure of a lifetime.

Guests at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort can enjoy sweeping views of Zion Canyon and beyond. Mount Carmel, Utah, May 18, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Guests at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort can enjoy sweeping views of Zion Canyon and beyond. Mount Carmel, Utah, May 18, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Beyond the immediate property, opportunities abound for recreation with guided canyoneering and horseback riding trips to ATV rentals and sunset jeep tours that lead guests to breathtaking panoramas of Zion Canyon and beyond.

“We like to say that this is where Zion National Park touches the sky,” Director of Marketing Mark Wade said of the resort.

As guests return from their day of adventuring, they can rest their heads in a myriad of lodging facilities ranging from tents and “covered wagons,” to cowboy cabins, cabin suites and even luxury homes that can sleep up to 40 or 50 people – perfect for a family reunion.

“We have everything from these million dollar mountain homes,” Millard said, ” … on down to camping.”

From their family to yours

The story behind the ranch begins with a family. Millard, whose uncles own the resort now, said that the property’s origins go back to his great-grandfather who was living in California and saw an ad for a ranch for sale in Utah.

Recreation manager, Jake Millard, pauses to enjoy the view from one of the Cabin Suites at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Mount Carmel, Utah, May 18, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Recreation Manager Jake Millard pauses to enjoy the view from one of the Cabin Suites at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, Mount Carmel, Utah, May 18, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Millard recounted the story of his great-grandpa loading his family into a Lincoln Continental and driving out to Utah where, upon viewing a small portion of the ranch, decided to purchase it using his home in California as trade for a down payment, Millard said.

For many years the land was used for family adventures and summer outings, Millard said, where they would hike and play and hear tall tales from their grandpa that seemed to get bigger every year.

With the property still in the family, it is those fond memories that drive Millard and the staff at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort to provide a place where other families and friends can create memories of their own, Millard said.

Las Vegas residents and best friends since seventh grade Lisa Moore and Barbara Zulick visited the ranch together and had been horseback riding, off-roading and zip lining, they said, adding that the hospitality at the ranch was incredible.

“We come from a town that was built on hospitality,” Zulick said, “and the people here have taken it to a whole other level.”

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