It wasn’t until after we booked a mid-July flight to Utah that I noticed the average highs in July hovered right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit! With some extra prep and rude awakenings on day one we learned how to beat the heat. Here’s what to pack to make your Utah visit with kids safe and cool.
If you’re basing your trip from Salt Lake City, check out this article on the Best Day Trips from SLC.
Top 17 packing hacks for Utah in Summer:
1. Brimmed Hats
I’ve never been a hat person myself, but after hiking toward sunrise on day one I immediately bought one in downtown Moab.
Prevent squinting and add a bit more sun protection by making sure everyone has a brimmed hat to wear whenever you’re out and about.
For infants, our absolute favorite are these iPlay sunhats which have long fabric in the back to keep baby’s neck covered as well. It ties under the chin so your little one can’t toss it off.
2. Walkie Talkies
In remote parts of Utah (this includes the National Parks) our cell signal was non-existent.
To easily keep in touch with the 2nd vehicle in our party, we relied on walkie talkies. They worked wonderfully as we explored the parks, alerting each other if we were going to make a stop or change our plans due to the kids’ moods. If you’re a parent you know this happens often.
Walkie Talkies are also useful when parents have to divide and conquer at a park.
3. Swim Suits and a Puddle Jumper
If you’re visiting Utah in the summer be sure to book lodging at a place with a pool!
By about noon each day, the sun was too strong to be out hiking. By then, the kids had had enough of the trails for the day anyway. A pool was a wonderful reprieve. Putting your toddler in a puddle jumper at the pool offers great peace of mind and was much more comfortable to wear than a life jacket. Our toddler would be constantly tugging at the neckline of a normal lifejacket.
We bought our puddle jumper at a Gear Shop in Moab for $25. If you have one, it’s light-weight enough that it may be worth throwing in the suitcase.
4. Half Frozen Gallon of Water
After our first hike of the trip, we returned to our car sweaty and thirsty only to find our water was HOT! So much for a refreshing drink.
The solution: Pick up a couple of gallons of water at a grocery store. Each evening, freeze a half gallon or two and top off with cold water in the morning. Store the water in your trunk and it’ll stay nice and cold for the half day you’re exploring a park with the kids.
There will be signs all over the park reminding you to hydrate! General rule is to drink 1 gallon per person per day.
5. Hiking Backpack with Shade
Traveling with very young kids?
Keep your baby’s fragile skin and eyes safe from the sun by carrying them in a hiking backpack with a canopy. There are companies in Moab that’ll rent one to you if you prefer not to purchase your own.
Our carrier didn’t come with a canopy so we rigged up a retractable umbrella to a pole in the back of ours. Sketchy? Yes. Effective? Very.
6. Meal Prep Containers
Not all Airbnbs are stocked with Tupperware to allow you to easily take healthy snacks on the go. We pack 2-4 of these meal prep containers which weigh almost nothing and take up very little suitcase space so that we can prep fruit/veggies or plated lunches to eat on the go.
7. Stroller Fan
I’m prone to heat stroke myself, so I was especially vigilant to keep my kids comfortable and safe from the heat.
This is the battery operated Stroller Fan we use.
Your car will be baking in the sun, keep your snacks/lunch in a cooler. Our favorite cooler backpack doubles as a perfectly sized airplane ‘personal item’ to stow under the seat in front of us.
9. “Sand” Toys
10. Water or Quick Dry Shoes
There were a number of hikes near Salt Lake City with waterfalls, so it was nice having the kids in shoes with sturdy soles that were fine to get wet as well.
Additionally, some pools have very rough finishes so these can be worn to protect from scratches.
11. Fanny Pack
Wow, am I glad these made a comeback. My pockets are never deep enough for my phone, especially in shorts. This fanny pack was a great way to keep my phone handy for photos as well as kids’ snacks, a sunscreen stick, first aid basics, and even had a spot for my water bottle.
12. Water bottles or Camelbacks
If you opt for a water bottle over a Camelback, make sure you can drop it into a back/fanny pack bottle holder or clip it to your backpack/belt. You’ll want to be hands free to 1) catch yourself if you slip and 2) wrangle the kiddos.
To keep your beverage chilled on longer hikes, Yetis are awesome.
13.Myriad of Sunglasses
Two pairs per adult, keeping the spare in your glove box.
I had high hopes for these baby sunglasses with straps, but I think I introduced them when my son was too old as he was quick to tear them off his head.
14. Excessive Amounts of Sunblock
Perhaps packing sunscreen goes without saying, but we went through a record setting amount of sunscreen in our 8 days in Utah in July so I’m inclined to include it in this list.
Depending on the ages of your kids you might need multiple types. We prefer using a Baby Sunscreen Stick on our one year old’s face, then there’s kid safe sunscreen, plus we used adult sport.
Visiting the Salt Flats west of Salt Lake City? Make sure to carefully sunscreen your face, under your nose and your eye lids too as the sun reflects from the salt much like it does in water.
15. Comfortable Hiking Shoes and Socks
I’ll be honest, I haven’t found hiking shoes that I’m ready to recommend to others. My favorite tennis shoes though are always Under Armour and that is what I used on my last trip to Utah.
My husband is a recent Bombas convert. He claims his feet didn’t even sweat in them on our hikes.
16. Snacks on Snacks on Snacks
Share a snack when you reach your destination and fuel up for the return. Applesauce pouches were our go to as they offered a bit of extra hydration.
Consider packing the car with a picnic lunch as well for your day out and about.
17. An Active Imagination
Exploring the National Parks involves A LOT of trails. When the kids get antsy for something different or you start hearing “I’m tired of walking” look for new ways to engage them.
- Play Hide and Seek behind the Goblins (Hoodoos)
- Nature’s Puzzle
- Sing Songs
- “First one to find a Lizard Wins!”
- Make up stories about adventurers who found this land long ago
- Let them add a rock to the trail rock stacks (The Park System asks visitors to refrain from creating any new ones)
Globally Inspired Picture Books
Picture books about unfamiliar places, faces, foods, and customs have generated such wonderful curiosity and discussion in our home.
Here are some of our favorites:
- This Is How We Do It
- Room for Everyone
- Barefoot Books Amazing Places
- National Monuments of the USA
- Atlas Obscura for Kids
Quiet Books or Busy Books make excellent toys for road trips or air travel. I’ve had a number of flight attendants and fellow passengers take a picture of ours for the toddler in their lives.