Zion National Park Family Fun
Zion National Park
Plan an incredible nature adventure for the family at Zion National Park. Nature comes alive for kids as they experience the National Parks and National Monuments that make up our Federal Lands. Plan your family trip so that children can hike trails suited for them, play and soak up crazy facts about real-life animals, people, geology and more. The key to an exciting and stress free trip is to plan your days so they are enjoyable for the kids and parents and yet so they are not too tiring. Be careful not to take children on hikes that are too strenuous. Trails with uncertain footholds and sheer cliffs can add stress for the entire family. Make sure to bring snacks and drinks that the kids like. Point out lizards and plants that children can relate to. Never let children feed or chase the animals and make sure they do not stray off the trails.
Family Hiking in Zion National Park
Weeping Rock - .5 mile round-trip to a charming alcove. The short hike is steep but most kids have no problem with it.
Riverside Walk - 2 mile-round-trip, along a flat paved path that runs along the North Fork of the Virgin River. Kids love this shady trail and the riparian habitat along the way. Strollers and wheelchairs can be used on this trail. Many will swim in the river at the end of the trail depending on the time of year.
Pa'rus Trail - 3.5 mile-round-trip along the Virgin River. This trail is paved and great for bikes and strollers. The trailhead begins at Canyon Junction and can be cut short when kids tucker out by stopping at the museum and jumping on the shuttle.
Canyon Overlook - 1-mile round-trip to a magnificent view of lower Zion Canyon. The trailhead is at the east side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.
Older kids and experienced hikers should enjoy these moderately difficult hikes
Emerald Pools - 3-miles to the various Emerald Pools. Take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the trailhead, located across the road from the Zion Lodge, to begin this hike. Young kids will enjoy the Lower Emerald Pool Trail. Its an easy hike that is shady and gorgeous and it is one that you can even push a baby stroller along. Older kids may want to do a tougher hike and go up to the Middle and Upper Pools.
For the older kids who want adventure and a tough hike, but without unnecessary worries
East Rim - A spectacular 10-mile one-way trail that begins on the east side of Zion and ends in Zion Canyon. The start of the trail is hot so start early in the day. The end of the trail is a strenuous downhill hike which kids love, but it can be hard on adults knees. Two vehicles are needed to set this one up, or hike back to the East Rim Trailhead and your vehicle.
Zion Narrows - Taller and older children will like this one. The Zion Narrows involves hiking through the North Fork of the Virgin River. The first 3-miles into the canyon will take you to the narrowest section of the hike. This is one of the most incredible adventures in the US according to National Geographic Online Magazine and Backpackers magazine.
Classic Trails that have steep exposed cliffs
Angels Landing - Narrow cliffs. Uncertain footholds. Strenuous climb. Trail can be hot.
Observation Point - Its an extremely strenuous climb up and steep downward trek on the return.
Hidden Canyon - Exposed cliffs and uncertain footholds. Few children will enjoy the strenuous climb up the hillside. Mine sure did not!
Zion National Park Mileage to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.
Unlike the Junior Ranger programs at nearby National Parks and Monuments, the program at Zion National Park offers a classroom-like setting. Children, ages 6-12, have the opportunity to complete projects, play games and work with rangers learning about plants, animals, geology, folklore and the fragile desert environment of Zion. Children will pretend to be scientists and learn about the history of the park clear back to the age of the dinosaurs to present day. Art projects include fun activities like making petroglyph art and making paper from scratch.
Nature Center Schedule
The 2011 program runs from Memorial Day weekend to mid-August. Allow time to register kids, if it is their first visit to the Zion Nature Center. Treats & meals are not offered at the center, so make sure your kids are fed before they are dropped off. The morning and afternoon sessions do vary, as do the daily sessions. Kids are encouraged to attend the program more than once.
Junior Ranger Program
This is a year-round program for kids under age 12. Kids under 6, who cannot attend the classroom setting, can earn a Junior Ranger helper decal, by picking up and completing an activity sheet. Pick up booklets anytime at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.
The Nature Center is located along the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, just inside the South Campground.
Zion Nature Center phone:
Zion National Park Vacation: Canyon Country
Private vehicles can travel SR-9, from Zion's south entrance, out the east entrance (or visa versa) to the junction of SR-9 & US-89 year-round, 24 hours a day. See tunnel restrictions for Oversized Vehicles.
Summer, Spring and Fall, the only access to the Scenic Zion Canyon Drive is via Zion's shuttle. During the winter private vehicles can travel in the canyon. Exact dates the shuttle runs may vary.
After a day of hiking, it is often nice to plan a relaxing event. For those who enjoy fishing, it is allowed in Zion's Virgin River. Make sure to have a current Utah fishing license. Swimming is also allowed in the river within the park boundaries. To tube just go right outside the park. The Virgin's current is strong in many places and kids should be closely supervised if they are going to swim. Bicycles are great to bring to the park. Zion is one of the most bike friendly parks in the US.