Hiking Zion National Park with Kids is easy and fun to do! We took this trip when our kids were 3.5 years old and 6 months old and this was our first major hiking trip with the both of them. Later on we would tackle Joshua Tree , Acadia, Banff, Hawaii, and more! Our plan had us flying into Las Vegas, driving to Zion National Park for a few days, then driving to the Grand Canyon for a few days (with stops along the way at Horseshoe Bend), drive to Las Vegas for one night (stopping at Hoover Dam), and ending in Los Angeles for four days to visit with my brother and his family.
You know when a trip is seamless and everything goes right? That’s how this trip was. It was a fabulous ten day trip that is still one of my favorites to this day.
We flew into Las Vegas, grabbed some lunch, and headed to Springdale, Utah just outside Zion National Park. It was a long day of traveling, but the girls were SO good! The kids went to bed at their normal east coast bedtime so they were asleep by 5:30pm. Jon and I followed a couple of hours later. These early nights and early mornings would end up working in our favor since Zion gets very crowded and incredibly hot very early in the morning during the summer. A little planning goes a long way here – knowing which hikes are at which shuttle stops, when the shuttles start, and what to expect at each hike, were key in making sure that we used our time efficiently and without crowds and crazy heat.
We were all up around 4:30am the next morning so we packed our gear and headed to the park. We parked at the museum and headed to the Pa’Rus Trail. This trail is accessible from the Visitor’s Center, the Zion Museum (shuttle stop 2), or at Canyon Junction (stop 3). It is a 1.7 mile out and back flat, paved trail that is best done in the early morning or early evening. It is perfect for strollers, bikes, and wheelchairs, and also has a great sunrise view of the Towers of the Virgin, which is a large collection of peaks including the West Temple, the Sundial, the Altar of the Sacrifice, and Meridian Tower.
M took her first nap in the stroller while we walked to our sunrise spot. J played in the red sand while Jon and I marveled at the first sun’s rays hitting the mountain. What a gorgeous site! And it was so special to share it as a family.
Emerald Pools Trail
We walked back to the museum, put the stroller in the car, and caught the already packed shuttle to the Zion Lodge stop which is where the Emerald Pools Trail started. We grabbed a second breakfast and then set off! The great thing about this trail is that there are different points where you can turn around and head back if you need to. It is 0.6 miles to the lower pools, 1 mile to the middle pools, and 1.5 miles to the upper pools so our plan was to evaluate how everyone was doing at each stop.
At the lower pools we took a break to feed M and enjoy the scenery. This is also when we decided to put the hiking harness on J as she was scaring us a bit with getting too close to the edge. The harness can reel the little ones in, but it is also extremely helpful in getting them over rocks that might be too big for them, while allowing them to attempt it themselves. She LOVED it!
We made it to the middle pools and decided to keep going up! The upper pools was another half a mile up, with all of it climbing rocks and steps. We fed M (again), set her up in the travel bassinet and white noise, and she fell right to sleep! Yes, I carried a travel bassinet on my back and held M in a front carrier. We rested and J played for about an hour and then we packed up and started our descent. Many people were coming up at this point (it was pretty hot by now) and were impressed that we did this hike with two very young children.
Once we reached the middle pools we took the Kayenta Trail down to get a change of scenery. J had enough of hiking so she went into the hiking backpack that Jon was carrying. She did over three miles of hiking/walking on her own!
We caught the shuttle from the Grotto stop and got off at the museum where our car was. It was 11:00am and we had already put in a full day. And it was HOT. We grabbed lunch on the way back, watched a movie, and then played in the pool in the afternoon.
Riverside Walk to The Narrows
The next morning we got to Zion at 5:45am to catch the first 6:00am shuttle and there was already a line. Fortunately, we made it onto the first set of buses that we were taking all the way to the last stop, Temple of Sinawava. Here, there is a very popular hike called The Narrows that we were not doing. But you can do the Riverside Walk, which leads to the start of The Narrows. This is a very pretty, serene walk showcasing flowers, imposing rocks, the river, and animals. This walk normally gets really crowded, but because we were so early, we had the walk to ourselves. It was pretty relaxing and quiet. We hung out at the start of The Narrows a little bit – J had a blast playing with the rocks in the water and we enjoyed the cool morning air and water on our feet.
Weeping Rock Trail
Next up was the Weeping Rock Trail, which is stop 7 on the shuttle. This is only a 0.4 mile trail. M needed her second nap (can you tell I’m a stickler for naps?) so Jon took J on the trail and I sat with a sleeping M. The hike was a little steep in places, but nothing a 3.5 year couldn’t handle! At the top you are surrounded by a moss and fern covered overhang that looks over a cliff. The cliff has tiny waterfalls misting over the edge of it that end up in little pools below.
We went to the Zion Lodge for some real breakfast and to rest. Everyone was pretty tired so we decided to call it a day (a pretty successful one)! When we got back to the visitor center to grab the car we couldn’t believe how long the lines were. At this time of day they can be over an hour long… and it was 105 degrees by this point. Get out early and you’ll have a pretty cool morning!
Hiking with kids at Zion National Park was such a great experience. While M was kinda just along for the ride, J proved to be a future hiker in the making! We plan to go back in life to tackle some hikes that weren’t appropriate for our kids’ ages, namely Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. But the trails we chose for this trip were great for all of us and we were still able to see Zion’s diversity and beauty with what we did.