Spend a day in Zion National Park with kids

 In USA

Parking

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.

The tram

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.

Zion-National-Park

Kid-friendly hikes

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)

Zion-National-Park

Animal Encounters

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
  • Tarantula
  • Bats
  • Canyon tree frog
  • Black-chinned hummingbird

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Showing 11 comments
  • Terra Trekkers
    Reply

    We went to Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon in October ’14 too! What an amazing place. I thought late Fall was a good time to go: nice weather and fewer people. We were lucky and had two days at zion: The Emerald Pools and the Riverside walk were lovely. One the second day we went the adventurous route and hiked the Narrows. It was definitely a highlight for us. Our kids are a bit younger (1 and 4) than yours though so we were able to put them in packs and hike through the gorge. The water level was pretty low for us and we saw a few kids in the 7/8/9-year-old range. We rented booties/socks/sticks and bundled the kids up in layers. It was epic. Perhaps in a few years when the children are a bit older?

    Willis Slot Canyon outside of Bryce would be my pick for a family that isn’t quite ready for the river but still wants to do a slot canyon. We also did Antelope Canyon (Page, AZ) but my son found both the canyon and the guided tour to be a bit confining. Adults will love it, though. (Provided its not flash flood season….!)

    -Sonja

  • Janet
    Reply

    Really useful post, thanks!

  • michael
    Reply

    Thank you so much for all that information , i don’t know where start but now i have and idea. I have 2 kid one is 7 and the another is 2 . Thank you.

    • Keryn Means
      Reply

      I’m so glad you found the information helpful Michael. You will have an amazing trip!

  • Sarah
    Reply

    This is a great, comprehensive guide! We took our then 3 month old to Zion last spring and I had such a tough time finding info on bringing kids (and babies!) to Zion. We especially struggled with the parking situation and didn’t realize until too late that parking in the park is extremely limited! Once that was resolved, we had a great time and our son loved looking around at everything from inside his carrier. I can’t wait to take him back when he’s older like your kiddos!

  • Sarah
    Reply

    This is a great, comprehensive guide! We took our then 3 month old to Zion last spring and I had such a tough time finding info on bringing kids (and babies!) to Zion. One article even suggested hiking Angel’s Landing! We especially struggled with the parking situation and didn’t realize until too late that parking in the park is extremely limited! Once that was resolved, we had a great time and our son loved looking around at everything from inside his carrier. I can’t wait to take him back when he’s older like your kiddos!

  • Tiffany
    Reply

    Thanks so much for this guide. I totally used it this week with our family.

    • Keryn Means
      Reply

      I’m so glad it was helpful Tiffany! We can’t wait to go back and explore more. Did you have a favorite hike?

  • Allison
    Reply

    Great overview of Zion National Park! I’ve visited this park many times and you’ve covered Zion Canyon well. There are other sections of Zion National Park, but Zion Canyon is the most visited. I just checked the entrance fee this week, and it has gone up to $30.

  • Craig
    Reply

    Followed in your footsteps today , itinerary perfect , 3 kids 6,9,11 all made it through , even added the upper pools . Thanks

    • Keryn Means
      Reply

      Ah! I’m so excited for you! I bet the pools were magical and a lot more full than when we saw them during the dry season. Glad you had fun!

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