It took me almost 40 years to make my first trip to Zion National Park, and when I finally made it there, I only brought one teenage daughter and my mom. But…we met my old neighbor and friend with 4 of her kids and set out for a day of hiking with our group of eight – 3 adults, 2 teens and 3 kids.
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend visiting Zion during the hottest days of August, we were able to see a ton of the park and survive to the end of the day with smiles still on our faces.
Six tips to enjoy Zion National Park with kids
Tip #1: Plan to arrive at the park early, especially during peek vacationing times. The parking lot fills quickly.
Tip #2: Pack plenty of water for each person in your group. Zion has cool Spring Water taps at the shuttle stops, so it’s easy to refill and stay hydrated – just remember to drink regularly! The temperatures during our hike were over 100 degrees, so water was crucial!
Tip #3: Plan to ride the Zion Canyon Shuttle (it’s free and shuttles circle the park constantly) for the entire loop. Even if you have members of your group that aren’t up to hiking, you can see a ton of the park from the comfort of the shuttle windows (plus, you get some great park information while you ride).
Tip #4: Always check trail information before setting out on a hike. You don’t want to get stuck on a trail that is too long or too difficult for your kids. There are plenty of people (and brochures and videos) at the Visitor Center at the opening of the park.
Tip #5: Bring your camera – but if you plan on doing a lot of hiking, pack a compact camera. My big dSLR weighed me down quite a bit!
Tip #6: Dress appropriately and wear GOOD shoes. I would recommend a hat! A walking stick is very helpful, too.
Hiking with kids at Zion National Park
We chose two easy hikes for our group: the Weeping Rock Trail and the Riverside Walk, the first mile or so of the Narrows trail.
Weeping Rock was both impressive and refreshing. Unlike most of the desert land around Zion, the area around the weeping rock is lush and green, thanks to water seeping through the rocks there. The water drips constantly from the rock – not like a water fall, but more like a leaky faucet. Kids and adults will be in awe that the water dripping on their head and shoulders has taken about 1200 years to travel through the rock!
My mom and friend had both hiked the Narrows and recommended that I do that trail someday…but not on a 104 degree day with kids. Luckily, the beginning part of the trail was easy enough that we saw several families pushing strollers up and down the Riverside Walk. We went as far as a little shaded “beach” where the kids stopped to play in the freezing river water (it’s hard to believe that the shallow water stays so cold despite the outside temps!).
The adults took a seat on the sand, broke open a few snacks, and watched the kids have fun cooling off. While we enjoyed the water, we did see several kids slip and fall in because of the unexpected deeper spots. They were fine – they just stood back up and kept on going – but it’s definitely important to guide little ones in the water and keep a close eye on kids of any age.
Have you ever visited Zion National Park? What are your favorite trails?
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