Spend a day in Zion National Park with kids
The parking lots in Zion fill up by 10am most mornings and don’t start to clear out until about 3pm. Walk from your hotel to the park visitor’s center if that is an option or park in Springdale (the town just outside of the park) for free and take the free shuttle into the park.
One of the best parts of the park is the free shuttle system that brings you to different spots throughout Zion Canyon. You can leave your car in the lot and dive right in. Shuttles run regularly and you will never wait for one for too long.
Riverside Walk (easy): The Narrows are legendary, but when you are exploring Zion National Park with small children the closet you might get is the end of the Riverside Walk. This peaceful and paved hike run along the river that carves its way through the canyon. You will have the chance to skip a few stones, look up at the mammoth rocks that make Zion the beauty she is and see a lot of hikers in water pants and water shoes coming back from the Narrows. The hike is worth it even if you can’t venture on into the Narrows. Take the shuttle to the end and just start walking. It’s a great way to start your day in Zion.
Emerald Pool Trail (easy to moderate): The Emerald Pool Trail starts out easy as you wander your way through some woods on a paved trail. You will hear the pool before you see it depending on the time of year as water crashes over a cliff into the first pool. You can even walk under the waterfall. Just watch out—it can get slippery. The trail from the lower Emerald Pool to the upper Emerald pool does get a little trickier. The paved trail disappears and you will walk on a sand and rock trail, which can get slippery in spots. There are no guardrails, so make sure younger children stay away from the edge. The final leg of the upper pool does require climbing a few rocks, but it’s nothing a mom or dad with sure footing and a baby in a carrier on their back couldn’t do with a little hand holding from their spouse. If our 5 year old can do the entire trip, so can you.
Other trails you might want to tackle
- Archeology Trail (easy)
- The Grotto Trail (easy)
- Pa’rus Trail (easy)
- Weeping Rock Trail (easy)
- Canyon Overlook (moderate)
In the canyon you might bump into a few creatures that you weren’t expecting. Keep an eye out for scorpions, mountain lions and desert tortoises. This is their home, not yours, so be respectful and give them space. We didn’t bump into any animals except a few elk in a field, but we were always on the lookout.
Other animals Zion is known for:
- Steller’s Jay
- Peregrine falcon
- Canyon tree frog
- Black-chinned hummingbird