Tips for Visiting Zion National Park With Kids
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Are you heading to Zion National Park with kids and wondering what are the best things to do in Zion National Park for families ? We have you covered! Zion National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States, so be sure to plan ahead if you need camping or hotel reservations. Here are some of the best things to do in Zion National Park with kids to help you plan your family trip to Zion National Park.
How to get to Zion National Park
Wondering what the closest airport to Zion National Park is? If you are flying in, Las Vegas has a major airport with cheap flights and is 2.5 hours from Zion National Park. We opted to fly to save hours of driving.
We live in Orange County CA and the drive to Zion National Park is 7.5 hours. Phoenix is 6 hours away, Salt Lake City is 4.5 hours and San Diego is 8 hours. It’s definitely doable to do a road trip if that’s your thing, but we wanted to drive as little as possible since we were planning to visit all 5 parks in the region.
Best time to visit Zion National Park
The best time to visit Zion National Park is is the spring (April-May) and fall (September-October). The temperatures are mild but not freezing or super hot like in the winter or summer months. We visited at the beginning of June and it wasn’t as hot as expected. Overcast on all of our days with a nice breeze, totally fine for hiking. We went to the Narrows at 6 am to avoid the heat like most suggested, however it was 55 degrees and so cold, not as fun as it would have been in the heat! So keep that in mind when choosing a time to hike the Narrows. The daytime temps were in the 90s but the mornings and evenings were very chilly in early June. The next day we decided to hike the Emerald Trail midday and it was 82, breezy and much better than the frigid morning temps!
Where to stay when visiting Zion National Park
Camping in Zion National Park
There are 3 campgrounds in Zion National Park. In Zion Canyon you’ll find the South and Watchman campgrounds and the Lava Point Campground is about an hour from the Zion Canyon. Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort is not run by the National Park service however it’s another option that is close to the park. It books up in advance, so be sure to make your reservations early!
Best family-friendly hotels near Zion National Park
Looking for the best hotel near Zion National Park? Look no further than the Springhill Suites by Marriott. The hotel is located less than a mile from Zion National Park, making it a great option when visiting the park. Our room was spacious with 2 queen beds, sofa trundle bed, fridge, microwave and a nice walk in closet to store our suitcases.
If you want to stay inside of the park, the Zion Lodge is right in the middle of the park across from the Emerald Trail and just a short shuttle ride away to the Narrows. They book up fast and weren’t available during our stay, so be sure to book early if you want to stay right inside of the park.
Things to bring when visiting Zion National Park with kids
- National Park Journal: We bring this journal on all of our National Park trips and Milana fills it out throughout the trip.
- Hiking backpack: You’re going to want a backpack to store your snacks, water, sunglasses and whatever else you might need on the trail. I’m a huge fan of the Osprey line so that is what I use.
- Trekking Poles: We all have a set of trekking poles, I recommend these trekking poles for kids. If you’re going to be hiking the Narrows, there are lots of slick spots with tons of rocks so it’s a good idea to have trekking poles though it’s totally doable without as well. Of course we forgot ours at home, so we ended up renting some from the Zion Adventure Company for $10/stick.
- Snacks: We love RX Bars and these granola minis for hikes.
- Quick-drying clothes: Since you will most likely get at least partially wet if you hike the Narrows, it’s important to have clothes that will dry quickly after. There are retailers that rent out clothes and supplies, but we found that to be unnecessary. No need to rent shoes, socks, etc. We were totally fine with just regular water shoes (Keen for me and PLAE Sam for Milana).
- Hydration Backpack: You’re going to need water and lots of it! Milana carries her own hydration backpack and loves it. I specifically chose a small one that is mostly intended to carry water with a few small pockets for snacks.
- Sunscreen: The trails get hot midday and many don’t have shade, be sure to apply sunscreen before you hike!
Books and games about Zion National Park
Things to do in Zion National Park with kids
The most popular activity in Zion National Park is hiking. We hiked several of the popular trails and they’re all good for families with young kids. Here are some of the best kid-friendly hiking trails in Zion National Park.
Best kid-friendly hiking trails in Zion National Park
- Zion Narrows Hike: This is the most popular hike in the park and probably the reason you came in the first place. If you did the entire hike, it’s 17 miles. But fear not, you can do small portions of it without having to hike for hours. The water is frigid, it was 62 degrees when we went in June and while the daytime temp was in the 90s, it was super freezing when we went in the morning (55) so be aware and pack lots of warm layers!
- Emerald Pools Trail: If you complete the entire trail, it’s about 3 miles. If your kids are really young, I would recommend hiking to the Lower Emerald pool (about 1.4 miles) and turning back. After the first pool, it’s a steep uphill on stairs, rocks and sand and really close to the edge with big drops. We did the entire trail, all the way to the Upper Pool, but Milana is 9 and a really good hiker. I wouldn’t recommend the last part of this trail for young kids.
- Zion Narrows Riverside Walk: A short 1.9 mile out and back trail that will take you to the popular section of the Narrows. You can take this to the end where you enter the Narrows and opt to not go into the water.
- The Watchman Trail: Another out and back trail, this one 3.1 miles long. If you’re doing this one later in the day, bring lots of water as it gets hot!
- Zion Canyon Overlook Trail: This trail is only a mile long with some beautiful views. It was a fairly easy hike, perfect for little kids.
- Pa-Rus Trail:This fully paved 3.5 mile trail starts at the visitor center. You can use bikes on this trail, which is exactly how we explored it.
Explore Zion National Park on a Bike
Right outside of the park is Zion Outfitter, where you can rent bikes for kids and adults. They even have trailers for those too young to pedal on their own. We rented a bike one afternoon and explored the Pa’rus trail by bike. From the store, you just cross the bridge and you are inside the park by the visitor center, where this trail begins. I highly recommend renting bikes for a few hours to explore this side of the park!
Junior Ranger Program in Zion National Park
We love the Junior Ranger program and Zion National Park has a great one. Your kids will learn a lot about the park and the area and will earn a Junior Range badge after they complete the activities.
Ranger-Led Programs for Junior Rangers
Be sure to check the daily schedule when you arrive so that your kids can attend some of the awesome ranger-led programs the park offers. We went to one about animals that live within the park and learned a ton about local snakes and rock squirrels.
Where to eat near Zion National Park with kids
Spotted Dog Cafe
This is one of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants near Zion. Their kid menu has some amazing items, including several that are just smaller portions of the adult menu. This is a popular place, so be sure to make reservations on OpenTable. Milana ordered the kids wild game meatloaf and I had the pesto pasta, which was amazing. Definitely recommend this place if you’re looking for a kid friendly restaurant near Zion.
This Tex-Mex style restaurant is very popular, so come early or be prepared to wait! They have a nice selection of Mexican dishes as well as burgers. The kids menu portions are huge and filling and Milana loved her bean and cheese burrito. I ordered the shrimp tacos and they were great as well.
Another popular place we tried was MeMe’s Cafe, a short walk from our hotel. If you like crepes, they have lots of them on the menu, both sweet and savory. They also have lots of sandwiches, burgers and salads. Milana had the ham and cheese crepe as her meal and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. For dessert, we shared the very berry crepe and it was really good!
Park House Cafe
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly breakfast restaurant in Zion, Park House is it! They have a nice back patio and great food. While our hotel had free buffet breakfast, we aren’t fan of the typical cereal/bacon/bagels and opted to go out for breakfast. I ordered their fruit parfait and Milana had the breakfast tacos. My California kid can eat avocados for breakfast, lunch and dinner and they loaded her taco with it. Both dishes were amazing!
Getting around Springdale and Zion National Park
If you’re coming to Zion National Park during summer, it will be really hard to find parking on the street or even in restaurant parking lots. Zion National Park runs a free shuttle system through the city of Springdale and there are shuttle stops conveniently located all throughout the town. We had one right in front of our hotel and used it multiple times to get to restaurants and shops.
Keep in mind that the city shuttle stops running at 6pm, something we didn’t know on our first day, and we ended up having to walk back to our hotel after dinner. Thankfully it was only a mile but be aware in case you venture far from your hotel!
You can also take the city shuttle to the first stop and enter the park via the pedestrian bridge if you want to avoid trying to find parking. From there, walk over to the visitor center where you will board a shuttle for the park. The shuttles have massive lines in the morning however by midday, you can walk right on. Just be mindful that if you aren’t back to take the shuttle to your hotel by 6, you are going to be walking quite a bit!
We hope this kid-friendly guide to visiting Zion National Park has helped you plan your trip. Be sure to check out our other guides for National parks with kids as well as our Mighty 5 road trip itinerary. Want to save this to read later? Pin one of the images below.