Visiting a national park, or even state or other parks, with children is always a good idea. It helps get children away from their screens and into nature, learning, exploring, and exercising. Start them young, and your children will grow up with an appreciation for nature that will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Science backs the benefits of nature to children. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors helps to:
- Boost creativity
- Inspire imaginations
- Reduce stress
- Reduce the symptoms of attention-deficit disorder.
But there’s a big difference between encouraging your kids to play in their own backyard and taking them on an outdoor adventure to Zion National Park. If it’s your family’s first time taking a trip like this, you’ll likely have plenty of concerns. One of the biggest will likely be whether there will even be any trails that your little ones will be able to take on, and that won’t be boring for the adults in your group.
Luckily, Zion offers a wealth of hiking trails with a variety of difficulty levels. This includes plenty of easy trails that little legs will be capable of walking, but that still feature stunning views of the park. Keep reading to learn a few of the best trails for those visiting with kids.
Weeping Rock Trail
At just under a half mile in length, Weeping Rock Trail is an excellent spot to test out your children’s hiking abilities and introduce them to all of the fun that they’re going to have on other trails.
Weeping Rock Trail is .4 miles total and paved for the entirety of the trail. While it may be short, it’s certainly not short on views. The trail’s namesake is a large alcove carved into the sandstone cliff. You can climb up to the viewing platform underneath of the alcove, and look out at the vegetation that drops from the edges like a hanging garden.
Below the platform, you can take a few steps down to Weeping Rock stream. In the summer months, your little ones will love cooling off in the water.
If your children are older, this is likely to be just a 10-minute walk for you. But the trail is a bit steep, so younger children may take a bit more time. If you plan to bring a stroller, keep in mind that you’ll be pushing it uphill most of the way.
While this trail is also paved, Pa’rus Trail is quite a bit longer than Weeping Rock, at 3.5 miles to hike out and back. The trail starts just past the South Campground and meanders beside the Virgin River, with plenty of overlooks along the way to look down at the water.
Pa’rus Trail is lined with wildflowers in the spring and early summer, and it isn’t unusual to spot mule deer quietly grazing along the trail, especially in the morning and before sunset.
Because it doesn’t have the steep climb of Weeping Rock, this trail is better suited for strollers. This is also the only trail in the park that is open to bicycles and pets. If you have children who can’t quite make the 3.5-mile walk on foot, this is an excellent spot to bring bikes and let them make their way on two wheels (and maybe a couple of training wheels) instead.
Keep in mind that this trail is quite exposed in long stretches throughout the 3.5 miles. This means that in the summer months, it can get very hot, particularly in the middle of the day. If you’re visiting during this time, plan to hike early in the day or just a couple of hours before sunset.
Canyon Overlook Trail
One sight that is a must for any families traveling with children is the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Little ones will be fascinated by the length of this amazing tunnel. Once you’ve driven through it, head to the trailhead for Canyon Overlook Trail.
It may not quite be Angel’s Landing. But this trail still offers incredible views but is only 1 mile to hike out and back. This is an ideal hike for anyone looking to get their children hooked on hiking! On this hike, don’t forget to look for the Pine Creek Slot Canyon far below. If your kids start asking to visit one, head to the next trail on this list.
Gateway to The Narrows (Riverside Walk)
The Narrows is one of the world’s best and biggest slot canyons. To hike it, you’d need to plan at least one night spent roughing it on the trails, not to mention plenty of time to walk the more than 16 miles.
But for those traveling with children who still want to experience the slot canyon, there’s the Gateway to The Narrows or the Riverside Walk. This paved trail takes visitors to the mouth of the canyon. At 2.2 miles roundtrip, it’s short and easy enough for many children. For little feet or those who have already hiked a trail or two today, you can always bring a stroller.
Visiting with Kids
While these are far from the only family-friendly trails in the park, any of the options on this list are an excellent choice for introducing your children to hiking or encouraging their growing passion. You’ll still get to enjoy the sights and landscapes that make Zion National Park so famous, without worrying about whether your little ones will be able to handle the hike. Start planning your first (or your next) family-friendly adventure today!