Hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park is a great two- to three-day trip for families with children.

The Bryce Canyon geology commands immediate attention with its striking and unique hoodoo formations. And, in one day, you can easily complete one or two main hikes and still have time to swim, visit the rodeo, and shop at Ruby's Inn.

Wildflowers are easy to identify, and it's likely you'll run across a deer or prairie dog, too, while on your weekend trip.

For those families looking for high adventure, horseback riding, ATV rides, cross-country skiing, mountain bike rentals, or even scenic flights can all be coordinated from local lodges or Ruby's Inn.

Why Bryce Canyon is great for kids

* Short and interesting hikes: Try visiting Navajo Loop or the Queen's Garden Trail. These hikes can be completed in less than two hours, and they both wind around plenty of kid-intriguing hoodoos.

* Great visitor's center: The Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor's Center offers a large variety of educational programs and activities for kids. Stop by the center at the park entryway to pick up a schedule of activities including such programs as stargazing, guided hikes, interactive day activities just for kids, hikes under the moon, and kid-friendly geology programs.

* Jr. Park Ranger or Geodetective programs: Bryce Canyon offers two different children's programs that give kids the opportunity to learn about Bryce Canyon and learn and collect National Park badges. The Jr. Park Ranger program requires (1) attending an educational presentation by a park ranger, (2) completing an age-appropriate variety of activities listed in the Jr. Park Ranger booklet (available at the Visitor's Center), and (3) picking up trash in a parking lot or while hiking. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brca/forkids/beajuniorranger.html.

Bryce Canyon also has an online educational geodetective program for children. Kids can complete educational lessons online about Bryce Canyon and have a teacher contact the Bryce Canyon educational outreach coordinator to receive a special badge. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brca/forkids/geodetkids.html.

* Extra fun at Ruby's Inn: Nearby local lodge Ruby's Inn offers a rock museum, craft shops, Native American artifacts, a small art gallery, a general store, an ice cream shop, a walkable old-town street, cowboy photograph stands and even a rodeo. Ruby's also has two on-site restaurants, and, if you are staying the night, an indoor heated pool. Ruby's is a great pit stop for families.

Jennifer is the Audience Development Director for the Daily Herald.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!