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The Parent's Guide to Visiting Zion National Park with Kids


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Zion National Park is home to some of the most magnificent canyonlands in North America. With over 232 square miles, you can find incredible slot canyons, Navajo Sandstone cliffs cutting through 2,000-foot canyon walls, the glorious Virgin River, hanging gardens, and miles of hiking trails.

Nestled in southern Utah an hour from St. George in a small town called Springdale, Zion National Park sees millions of visitors every year. People road trip from all over to canyoneer, backpack, camp, hike, climb, bike, and float the river. Zion National Park is also an excellent option for a family vacation. There are many family and kid-friendly hikes, scenic drives, the Human History Museum, and even a Junior Ranger program for young ones who are into nature.

Zion National Park With Kids

A remarkable aspect of this national park is its ability to be a kid-friendly place to take the young ones in your life. From the Pa'rus Trail to the Riverside Walk to some of the Narrows in Zion Canyon, you really can find fun activities for humans of all ages.

Having young ones should not stop you from seeing the wonders of the world and sharing them with your little ones. While they might not be able to finish the Angel's Landing hike with you or go to the depths of the slot canyons, you can still enjoy these family-friendly treks when hiking at Zion National Park with kids.

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Kid-Friendly Hikes at Zion National Park

Depending on how old the hikers you are traveling with are, you can cater your adventure to meet your group's needs and abilities. Here is a list of our favorite kid-friendly hikes at Zion.

Emerald Pools Trail

EMERALD POOLS TRAIL, Zion National Park, Utah, USA

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The Emerald Pools Trail leads to glistening waterfalls and emerald pools. Red rock views show off their beauty in every direction, and kids of all ages are sure to be mesmerized. For younger hikers or those in strollers, the lower emerald pool is a great option, as most of the way has a paved trail. The round trip distance for this hike is 1.2 miles to the lower pools, two miles to the middle, and three miles to the upper emerald pool.

If you are with older kids, you can reach the middle trail viewpoints from The Grotto via the Kayenta Trail or the Grotto Trail. Just be careful as there are sharp drop-offs.

Weeping Rock Trail

Zion National Park in Utah with man walking on weeping rock trail to waterfall and formations in summer

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A 0.4-mile round trip hike, the Weeping Rock Trail presents moss and fern-glossed rocks on the edge of a hanging cliff. There are 100 feet of elevation gain, so this more accessible trail is not recommended for strollers.

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Canyon Overlook Trail

Looking out from Observation Point over Zion Canyon with views of Angels Landing and the Zion scenic drive. Zion National Park, Utah, USA.

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For sweeping views and a leisurely stroll with less than 100 feet of elevation gain, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a phenomenal trail for families. Start at the parking lot, and you will see the trailhead, marked by a collection of stone steps that reach above the north side of the road. Once you make it to the overlook, take in the fabulous views of Zion Canyon.

Watchman Trail

Zion National Park in the autumn with the Watchman in the background.

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The Watchman Trail is a 3-mile round trip trek, which showcases impressive views of the entire town of Springdale and the surrounding area. Ideal for first-time visitors, this trailhead sits just inside the park's south entrance, making it an easily accessible hike with tremendous payoffs.

Pa'rus Trail

Curved Footpath on Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park in autumn Utah

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If biking the trails is more your families' style, check out the Pa'rus Trail. Also great for hiking and wide enough for strollers and wheelchairs. The Pa'rus Trail is a paved trail that meanders along the Virgin River through lower Zion Canyon, totaling 3.5 miles round-trip. This trail connects the ranger station, campgrounds, the museum, and other notable sites. It is an excellent option if you are trying to avoid the Zion shuttle buses.

Scenic Drives at Zion National Park With Kids

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The longest of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drives, this 54-road on Highway 9 from I-15 to Mt. Carmel Junction takes about 90 minutes to complete.

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Kolob Canyons

This image shows an epic landscape at Kolob Canyon in Utah, made from red rock formations of Navajo sandstone.

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For an incredible drive through Zion National Park, head to Exit 40 on Interstate 15, 17 miles south of Cedar City in the Kolob Canyon section of the park. This 5-mile drive offers a winding trek through beautiful canyons, leading to viewpoints and trailheads.

Carmel Highway

Zion Canyon and Mount Carmel Highway with car light trails seen from Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park, Utah, USA.

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The 25-mile scenic byway on S.R. 9 is an excellent option for those looking to take a scenic drive with kids that may not want to walk miles on warmer days. This road stretches from Zion's main canyon and Mount Carmel.

The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

View of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel from the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park, Utah

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A road and tunnel that has been around for almost 100 years was the longest tunnel of its type in the USA at the time. This tunnel created direct access to Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon National Park from Zion.

Important Information

A great way to enjoy the park for your family travel is to stay at the Zion Lodge, the only in-park lodging inside the red-rock paradise. The lodge does book up extensively in advance, so you must plan to stay here. To manage over-parking and crowds, many the park is accessed via the free shuttle system, the Zion shuttle. Read more about the shuttle stops and how to use the shuttle system here.

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If you have questions when visiting Zion National Park, you can head to one of the visitor centers or find a park ranger to talk to. Buy a Utah National Parks pass to save some travel money if you plan to visit one or more of the incredible parks in this state.

READ MORE: Ultimate Road Trip Guides: Las Vegas to Zion National Park

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