Hiking with kids in the desert during summer is quite different than in the winter, but still demanding! It’s hot and we’re close to the sun.
Hydration and sun safety are my biggest focuses. There’s a balance between not overheating and staying safe from the sun, and it’ll take some trial and error. Lightweight, wicking clothing and breathable shoes are a priority over here. Last summer we all wore Keens which helped keep us cool. We’re going to try out Chacos this year too. Hats and sunglasses helped make hiking a little novel for my kids, and we all use zinc based sunscreens. Badger is my favorite. I’ve also made my own but it’s not always possible.
There are a few options for water. One is traditional water bottles. When my youngest still needed to be carried, I clipped my 32oz Hydroflask to my Kinderpack. Now she’s walking, so I can carry a daypack with water inside. I have a few daypacks (Cotopaxi, Gregory, REI) with special packs for hydration bladders. A friend has a super cool Camelbak fanny pack that has a pocket for a hydration bladder! I also picked up a filtration bottle to use on longer hikes, which we have used.
My kids wear Camelbak Scouts and carry their own water and snacks. Sometimes I don’t have my four year old wear anything extra to help conserve energy. On shorter hikes though, she enjoys it. They love the bladders that come with the backpack, though the little likes to bite through them. They’ve never consumed all of their water thankfully. I keep a 64oz stainless steel water bottle in the car filled with cold water for after hikes. We usually fill up everyone’s water bottle once we’re back in the car.
Honestly, hiking in the mountains during the spring and summer is a blast. The wildflowers are sprouting and growing tall (did you know Cow Parsnips can grow to 9 feet tall?) and we love working on plant identification. We play games where we find all the colors of the rainbow, the smallest and biggest flowers and leaves. I’d love to work on bird call identification together.
We love these identification guides for trees, wildflowers, animals, and birds. The kids love looking at them in the car while driving to the hikes as well as carrying them along while walking. We’ve collected several different sources over the years, from Amazon and National Park gift shops. I do prefer Utah-specific ones, as it helps narrow down the possibilities.
Pocket Naturalist Utah (these are my favorites)
Mammals of the Rocky Mountains
Additionally, there’s a free app called Utah Wildflowers I downloaded this past month. Take note of the color, number of leaves, type of stem, and location of the flower and this app will help you identify it. It’s been so much fun for us.
What are your tips for spring and summer hiking? Favorite parts? Have fun out there!