Fun-Filled Adventures: Zion National Park with Kids

Visiting Zion National Park with kids, is one of the most fun-filled family trips you can take! With its stunning natural beauty and diverse range of activities, it’s the perfect destination for a family vacation.

Our family have been to Zion a few times; however, we are always left wanting more!

We suggest that you do not short change this park. Spend some time here. Find a great place to stay. Enjoy the good food that Springdale has to offer. Schedule a tour or an adventure before your big trip. Take your time.

Here’s our take on the best activities to do with kids at and around Zion National Park.

Hiking Zion National Park with Kids

Zion National Park has a variety of kid-friendly hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes.

Riverside Walk

One of the most popular hikes for families is the Riverside Walk, which is a paved, 2.2 mile trail that runs along the Virgin River and leads to the Narrows. It is *mostly* handicap accessible; however, the pavement does have some damage, and there are some steep sections.

Zion National Park with Kids - Riverside Walk

This is, by far, my own favorite, can’t miss trail in Zion National Park!

Riverside Walk features:

  • It is shaded for most of the day – PERFECT for the hot days in southern Utah!
  • It is paved.
  • It offers several areas of beach access to the Virgin River.
  • There is a water fill station at the trailhead.
  • There are bathrooms at the trailhead.
  • The fall colors along the trail range from yellows to reds with spots of evergreen.
  • There are multiple benches along the trail.
  • The views are breathtaking!
  • Your entire family will LOVE IT!

Pro Tips: If you only have the energy or interest for one hike in Zion, this is the trail to choose. It does get crowded, so consider hiking it in the early mornings or the evenings.

The Narrows

The Narrows is a slot canyon that can be hiked by wading through the river, making it a fun adventure for kids; however, it is best enjoyed in the warmer months.

The flow rate of the Virgin River will vary, and the rangers will advise against this hike during foreseeably dangerous conditions.

Another issue to be aware of when it comes to The Narrows hike is the bacteria level of the water. The park will often have advisories on this, and you certainly don’t want to expose open wounds to the water during certain times of the year.

Zion National Park with Kids - The Narrows

Watchman Trail

The Watchman Trail is a relatively easy, 3.3 mile hike right off the visitor center’s parking lot. There is some elevation and some huffing and puffing, but the final views are nice.

This hike is a great way to warm up to any more challenging hikes you will enjoy later in your trip.

Zion National Park with Kids - Watchman Trail

Emerald Pools

The Emerald Pools Trail is a great choice for families, especially those with some who are more advanced hikers than others!

There are three sets of “pools,” each at a different mile marker within the full hike.

When our daughter was five-years-old, she only made it to the first “pool” which is one mile into the hike, but my son and husband were able to scratch their hiking itch by continuing up to the middle (at 2.2 miles) and upper pools (at 1.5 miles.)

Angel’s Landing

Zion National Park with kids: Angle's Landing

Along with The Narrows trail, Angel’s Landing is, perhaps, the other most popular hike in Zion.

It is very steep and not appropriate for young children. Children are able to do this hike, but it is essential that parents understand the dangers and consider the individual child.

As of 2023, there is now a permit required to hike Angel’s Landing.

At the time of writing, the permit lottery opens two months prior to the month of the hike. Please visit Zion’s website for details, and be sure to apply for a permit as early as possible!

Junior Ranger Program at Zion

The Junior Ranger Program is a fun and educational activity for kids at Zion National Park. The program is designed to teach kids about the park’s history, geology, and ecology.

Kids can earn a badge by completing activities such as attending ranger talks, going on hikes, and completing a Junior Ranger booklet.

Our children both enjoyed the program. The rangers at this park were exceptional with the kids! We only wish we had spent more time in the park to attend the official ranger talks.

Zion National Park with Kids

Visit the Park Exhibits

While you are collecting your Junior Ranger Books at the Visitor Center, go ahead and enjoy the handful of exhibits it offers.

At Zion National Park, many of the exhibits are actually outside of the visitor center where you may also come across a park ranger showcasing additional park novelties. On our recent trip, the park ranger had a table showcasing the skulls and pelts of wildlife native to the area!

One of my daughter’s favorite park activities is wandering through the Park Store. The child-focused books and goodies will help your children create additional interest in the park.

Zion National Park also includes several other park buildings offering deeper educational experiences.

The Human History Museum is a great way to help your children connect with the historic cultures of the region. They can explore relics of how life used to feel in the canyon.

Pro Tips:

  • The Human History Museum is NOT open year-round. They close during times of low projected traffic.
  • Just north of the Human History Museum parking lot is the best place to view sunrise at Zion National Park!
Zion National Park with Kids - Human History Mueseum

The Zion Nature Center is another educational hub located just north of the South Campground entrance. Like the Human History Museum, it does have seasonal closures.

Go Wildlife Spotting

Wildlife spotting is one of the most exciting activities at any national park, and Zion National Park is no different! The diversity of birds and mammals to spot will challenge any visitor.

Our favorite animals to spot at Zion National Park are:

  1. The Peregrine Falcon – This is the fastest animal in the world! We suggest that you equip your little explorers with binoculars to search for the Falcon.
  2. The Desert Big Horn Sheep – We love any type of big horn sheep, but the desert big horn sheep are special. Their short hair and long, curly horns show off a lean and nimble body.
  3. The Mule Deer – Yes, I know that deer are common in many parts of the country including my own Texas home; however, MULE deer are different. Even if their bigger ears and fuzzy bodies weren’t so fun to see, their omnipresence in Zion makes them captivating. How can you NOT stop to watch the deer?
Zion National Park with kids - mule deer

Pro Tip: To view the desert big horn sheep, head to the Canyon Overlook trailhead on the east side of Zion National Park. The park ranger told me that the herd over there was about two-hundred strong!

Horseback Riding at Zion National Park

Horseback riding is a great way to explore the scenic beauty of Zion National Park. The park has several horseback riding options, including guided tours and rentals. Kids will love the experience of riding a horse through the park’s stunning landscapes.

East Zion Adventures offers multiple trip options and includes age-appropriate guidelines. They even have a short, 10-minute starter ride for kids without riding experience!

If your family are equine-enthusiasts and your youngest is 8-years-old or older, we suggest you consider the slot canyon tour!

Canyoneering at Zion National Park

Canyoneering is a unique adventure activity that involves rappelling down narrow canyons and hiking through slot canyons. While it’s not suitable for young children, older kids and teenagers will love the thrill of canyoneering. Several companies offer guided canyoneering tours near Zion National Park.

East Zion Adventures also offers canyoneering tours for children as young as 4-years-old! No matter how tame of an adventure you prefer, check out their offerings. They are sure to have an exciting experience that meets the needs of your family!

Biking at Zion National Park

Biking is a great way to explore the park’s scenic beauty while enjoying some exercise. Zion National Park has several biking trails including the Pa’rus Trail, which is a 3.5-mile paved trail that runs from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Canyon Junction. The paved trails make biking an exceptionally attractive activity for kids at Zion!

Aside from the fun trails, biking into and through Zion National Park will save you a lot of traffic headaches that most visitors endure here. We suggest you take a day to enjoy this park on two wheels!

Zion Outfitters offers bike rentals for the entire family.

Swimming at Zion National Park

During the hot summer months, swimming is a popular activity for families at Zion National Park. The Virgin River runs through the center of this park. As long as bacteria and water levels are safe, you will find visitors sprinkled throughout its flow.

Several hikes have paths in and around the river, so the wade-hike combination may be enough to quench your thirst for a dip!

For those that need more dedicated and chlorinated swimming, several local hotels and campgrounds offer pools. Options include:

  1. Springhill Suites
  2. The Driftwood Lodge
  3. Bumbleberry Inn
  4. Zion River Resort (campground)

Visitors should always check the park’s current water conditions before swimming.

Kid-Friendly Attractions near Zion National Park

There are several kid-friendly attractions near Zion National Park that are worth visiting.

  1. The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm is a museum that features dinosaur fossils and interactive exhibits.
  2. The Cedar City Aquatic Center is a water park that offers slides, pools, and other water attractions.
  3. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is about half an hour from Zion. It offers stunning slot canyons and all of the fun of a natural and PINK sandbox!
  4. Numerous golf courses
  5. Slot Canyons in Kanab, UT, about an hour from Springdale.
attractions near Zion National Park with kids

Zion National Park offers a wide range of family-friendly activities that are sure to keep kids entertained and engaged. From hiking and horseback riding to canyoneering and swimming, there’s something for every age and skill level.

By participating in the Junior Ranger Program and visiting nearby attractions, families can also make their trip to Zion National Park an educational and memorable experience.

So, pack your bags and get ready for some fun-filled adventures with the kids at and around Zion National Park. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!