Zion National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States and with great reason! Here are some of the best hikes and other information to give you a great trip!
Family-Friendly Hikes in Zion
Probably most who read this post are really looking to find out recommended hikes for families, so I’ll put them right at the top. Then you can read on for more information.
All of Zion National Park is truly amazing, so it’s hard to go wrong, but if you only have time to do a few hikes in Zion, these are the ones I’d suggest:
- Riverside Walk (1.9 easy miles) – This is the gateway to The Narrows and a very beautiful hike along the Virgin River.
- Canyon Overlook Trail (1.0 easy miles) – This is a fun hike that leads to incredible views. There are a few places where you will want to hold toddlers hands
- Emerald Pools (1.2-3.2 easy/moderate miles) – The Emerald Pools are waterfalls and pools that are most prominent in the spring or after rain, but have at least a trickle year-round. There are two trails to get to them: the Emerald Pools Trail or the Kayenta Trail (as of May 2023, the bridge along the main trail is closed, so you must take the Kayenta Trail. It is easy to the Lower Emerald Pool and then moderate to the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools. Most toddlers could do all three.
- Weeping Rock (0.5 easy miles) – The upper layer of sandstone is more porous, so snow and rain seeped into it and over a thousand years got down to the lower, impermeable sandstone, so the water is forced out as Weeping Rock. The paved trail is a bit steep and has a few stairs, so it isn’t good for wheelchairs or strollers, but is so short most should be fine to walk up.
- Par’us Trail (1.7-3.4 easy miles) This nice, smoothly paved trail is perfect for bikes or strollers. This is the only trail in the park that allows dogs. This one is very adjustable in length.
Zion Recommendations for more of a challenge
If you are up for a little longer or more challenging hike than the family-friendly recommendations above, here are a few to check out.
- Zion Narrows (0-8.5 difficult miles) – (As of spring 2023 the Narrows are closed for high water levels) The Zion Narrows are truly spectacular. You can begin at the bottom and hike up however far you want and then turn around. To go from the top down requires a permit.)
- Angel’s Landing (5.4 difficult miles) – Angel’s Landing has chains to hold on to as you ascend to incredible views of Zion (requires a permit)
- Scout’s Lookout (3.8 difficult miles) If you didn’t get a permit for Angel’s Landing, you can still go nearly 3/4 of the way up to incredible views.
- Observation Point (7.0 moderate miles) Observation Point is a stunning viewpoint that looks down on Angel’s Landing. There used to be two trails, but the one I have hiked multiple times was buried in a rockfall in 2019. The alternate trail is called the East Mesa Trail).
- The Subway (9.1 difficult miles) Follows the Left Fork of North Creek and requires a permit for either direction
Zion National Park is an oasis, but it is surrounded by the desert. That means it can get really hot during the day and very cold at night. Make sure you know what to expect. Here is a packing list to help you know what to bring on hikes.
Be sure you have plenty of water. There are some delicious bottle filling stations in these locations:
- Zion Canyon Visitor Center – shuttle stop 1
- Zion Human History Museum – shuttle stop 2
- Zion Lodge – shuttle stop 5
- The Grotto – shuttle stop 6
- Temple of Sinawava – shuttle stop 9
- Kolob Canyons Visitor Center – no shuttle service
Zion National Park Main Canyon
The main canyon of Zion National Park can only be accessed by shuttle from March – November. This actually makes it nice so you don’t have to worry about traffic and parking. On the way up the canyon, the Zion shuttle stops at #1, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #9. On the way down it stops at all nine.
Here is the shuttle map.
Shuttles start at 6 or 7 am and run until 6:15-8:15 pm depending on the season. Be sure to check out the schedule beforehand so you won’t miss it and have to walk out.
The first trail is the Par’us Trail that goes between Canyon Junction (shuttle stop #3) and the Zion Visitor’s Center (shuttle stop #1). This trail is great for strollers, biking, is handicap accessible and is the only trail in Zion National Park that allows dogs.
The Zion Lodge is the only hotel inside the park. It is a great place to spot wildlife! It is located at shuttle stop #5.
*As of May 2023 the Zion Lodge Bridge across the Virgin River is closed, so for now you have to access the Emerald Pools from the Kayenta Trail at The Grotto (shuttle stop #6)
The Emerald Pools Trail begins at the Zion Lodge.
The Grotto is shuttle stop #6 and the trailhead for Angel’s Landing, Scout’s Lookout, and the Kayenta Trail which is an alternate route to the Emerald Pools.
Weeping Rock is shuttle stop #7 and the trailhead to Weeping Rock.
The rest of the Weeping Rock Trailhead is still closed, including the trails for Observation Point, East Rim and Hidden Canyon.
In August of 2019, there was an enormous rockfall. Luckily the trails were temporarily closed for trail maintenance because a 31,000 ton piece of Navajo Sandstone fell 3,000 feet onto the trails below, knocking over trees and everything else in its path! Here is a link to a video clipof the rockfall caught on camera! It’s been nearly four years, but the trail to Weeping Rock is the only one that has been reopened. You can get to Observation Point from the East Mesa Trail.
Temple of Sinawava
The Temple of Sinawava is shuttle stop #9 and is the access point for the Riverside Walk and the Zion Narrows.
Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
The Zion Mount-Carmel Highway connects the main canyon in Zion to the East Entrance.
The highlight hike along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is the Canyon Overlook Trail.
There is a separate section of Zion National Park close to Cedar City called Kolob Canyon. Here is a map that shows how it is part of Zion.
Camping in Zion National Park
There are two campgrounds in the main section of Zion National Park, both near the Visitor’s Center: South Campground and Watchman Campground.
Even if you don’t camp inside the park, Zion National Park is a fantastic spot for night sky photography.
Springdale is the closest town to the main canyon of Zion National Park. There is a free shuttle that will take you from your hotel to the park.
Here are other nearby areas that might interest you: