Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah. Zion provides so much diversity and beauty. It is an incredible place to visit for people of all ages.
There are some strenuous hikes and more risky activities to do in Zion (ahem, Angels Landing), but there are tons of easy hikes and family-friendly activities to do in the park as well!
We’ve compiled a list of 9 easy hikes in Zion National Park that are perfect for all ages. We will also share some other family-friendly things to do in Zion besides hiking.
All of the hikes on this list are easy to moderate in difficulty, and each one offers beautiful scenery and opportunities for family fun. 🙂
What to Bring On Your Zion National Park Hikes
- Plenty of water & snacks
- Day Hike Backpack
- Sun Protection – hat, sunglasses, SPF chapstick, sunscreen
- Park Map (can get this at the visitor centers or entrance stations in the park)
- Trail Maps (on All Trails app)
- Mini First Aid Kit
- Rain Jacket and layers (the park can have varying temps at different elevations)
- Trekking Poles (these save your knees when going down declines!)
- Hiking Carrier (for young kids)
9 Easy Hikes in Zion National Park
1. Pa’rus Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 3.5 miles roundtrip (out-and-back), easy
Trailhead Location: Near the Visitor Center & South Campground (shuttle not required)
Things to Note: This trail is paved & stroller-friendly!
Park at the Visitor Center for this hike. During busy times, you may need to take a shuttle from Springdale into the park if the Visitor Center parking lot is full.
The Pa’rus Trail is a short, easy hike that follows the Virgin River through Zion National Park. This is one of our go-to kid-friendly hikes in the park because we can use our stroller,
Even though the Pa’rus Trail is more like going on a walk rather than hiking, you will still be treated to incredible views throughout the whole trail.
The trail is perfect for families or anyone just looking for a nice, leisurely (and scenic) stroll.
The full hike is 3.5 miles, but you can turn around at any time, making the hike as short or as long as you’d like.
2. Canyon Overlook Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 1-mile roundtrip (out-and-back), moderate
Trailhead Location: Right by the east entrance of the Mt. Caramel Tunnel (park shuttle not required)
Things to Note: Long drop-offs, mostly fenced. Somewhat rocky and uneven trail.
Parking is very limited – you may have to drive back and forth waiting for parking if you go during peak times.
To enter or exit the parking area just east of the Mt. Caramel tunnel, you must turn right (be prepared to turn into the parking lot right after you exit the big tunnel).
Canyon Overlook Trail is a fun hike and one of our favorites in the park. It is one of those hikes that is great for both the journey and the destination.
There are many neat features along the way, and the view at the end is stunning – one of the best views in Zion National Park for sure.
We did this hike with our one-year-old in a hiking carrier. We felt safe the whole time, but be cautious and keep your kids close if they are hiking the trail vs. riding in a carrier because there are some steep drop-offs.
3. Lower Emerald Pools Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 1.2 miles roundtrip (out-and-back), easy
Trailhead Location: Across from the Zion Lodge (shuttle bus required most of the year, shuttle stop #5)
Things to Note: The trail is paved, but is kind of bumpy and uneven, so a jogging stroller would work, but probably not great for an umbrella stroller.
Be cautious near cliff ledges and on wet, slippery surfaces. Swimming is prohibited.
Lower Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park is a short and easy hike featuring a sparkling waterfall. The pools at the base of the waterfall are named for their bright green color, which is caused by light reflecting off the limestone formations that surround it.
The waterfall flow varies greatly throughout the year depending on recent rainfall levels and snowmelt (usually best in the spring).
The Lower Emerald Pool Trail follows a canyon to the lower pools at the base of the waterfall. Hikers will follow the trail behind the waterfall.
You can take a stroller if you plan to only go to the Lower Pools, but I would recommend a more heavy-duty stroller because the trail is quite bumpy and uneven even though it is paved.
The full Emerald Pools Trail has 3 different destination points:
- Lower Emerald Pools is the first stop (easy, 1.2-mile roundtrip hike)
- Middle Emerald Pools – continue up a steep ridge past the lower pool (moderate, 2-mile roundtrip hike)
- Upper Emerald Pools – you will follow the trail up the steep and sandy path to another larger pool fed by a high waterfall (strenuous, 3-mile roundtrip hike)
4. Archaeology Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 0.4 miles roundtrip, easy
Trailhead Location: Behind the Visitor Center near the Watchman Campground
Things to Note: This hike is a short and steep climb to the top of a small hill. It is a bit rocky and washed out in a few areas, but is still easy and family-friendly.
The Archaeology Trail is a short and rocky trail that climbs to the top of a small hill. This hike is a short and sweet option if you are at the Visitor Center and want easy access to some nice views.
The trail leads to an area that Ancestral Pueblan people occupied over 1,000 years ago.
The site at the top of the hill is thought to be where food was stored and prepared in ancient times.
Archaeologists discovered thousands of artifacts in the area of the trail that are now on display at the Zion Human History Museum.
Although very little evidence of ancient life remains at the top of the hill, you can still enjoy the view across the canyon and imagine what life would have been like in that exact spot 1,000 years ago.
5. The Riverside Walk Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 2.2 miles, easy
Trailhead Location: Shuttle Stop #9, Temple of Sinawava
Things to Note: Stroller-friendly (for the most part), be aware of the weather and flash-flooding potential
The Riverside Walk Trail begins at the final shuttle stop.
Riverside Walk is stroller-friendly and wheelchair accessible for the first 0.4 miles, but the second half of the trail has several slopes and possible deep sand (especially after heavy rain), which can make it more difficult to navigate.
The trail winds along the Virgin River and has many access points to the river along the way. The Riverside Walk is also known as the gateway to the Narrows, as it ends at the beginning of the famous Zion Narrows hike.
With scenic views of the river and tall canyon walls and opportunities to see wildlife along the way, Riverside Walk is a great option for anyone who is looking for easy hikes in Zion National Park.
6. Observation Point Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 6.7 miles, moderate difficulty
Trailhead Location: Near the Eastern Park Entrance Station (park shuttle not required)
Things to Note: Longer distance, cliff drop-offs at the end-point of the hike, you must either drive to the trailhead (which typically requires high clearance and 4×4) or take a shuttle from Zion Ponderosa Ranch
There are multiple ways to get to Observation Point (get ready for some of the epic views in the park!).
Observation Point looks down on the famous Angel’s Landing and is 700 feet higher in elevation.
The popular route from the Weeping Rock Trailhead that many people used to take to get to Observation Point has been closed since August 2019 due to major rockfall. That route was steep and strenuous, making it not very family-friendly.
However, there is an alternate way to get to Observation Point. Observation Point via East Mesa Trail is a 6.7-mile, moderately difficult hike on the east side of the park.
Even though it is a longer hike, the elevation gain is minimal, as most of the trail consists of walking through flat meadows and wooded areas.
If your kiddos can handle the distance, you will be rewarded with incredible views and a great sense of accomplishment at the end of this hike!
This blog post has a lot more information about hiking Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail. Check out their YouTube channel too – it is one of our favorites!
7. Grotto Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 1 mile roundtrip, easy
Trailhead Location: Behind the shuttle stop at the Zion Lodge (you can access from shuttle stop #5 or #6)
Things to Note: This trail is good for a leisurely stroll and has two different trailhead options
The Grotto Trail is a short and level trail that connects the Zion Lodge to the Grotto Trailhead. You can start the hike either at the Zion Lodge (shuttle stop #5) or at the Grotto (shuttle stop #6).
The trail follows the Zion Canyon Road through a pleasant canyon meadow, and it is a great place to spot wildlife.
This trail makes for a short, pleasant stroll, especially if you are staying at the Zion Lodge. You could also add the Grotto Trail onto the Emerald Pools Trail to extend your hike a bit.
8. The Watchman Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 3.3 miles, moderate
Trailhead Location: Near the Visitor’s Center (shuttle not required)
Things to Note: Moderate drop-offs along the trail, can be muddy when wet
Watchman Trail is a popular 3.3-mile roundtrip hike with about 500 feet of elevation gain, making it a decent workout, but not too difficult.
This hike has wonderful views, especially at sunset. The trailhead is located near the Visitor Center.
The Watchman trail does have some moderate drop-offs to be aware of when hiking with kids. The trail can also be muddy when wet.
Bring along some food and sit on one of the viewing benches or spread a blanket out and enjoy lunch with a view!
9. Timber Creek Overlook Trail
Distance + Difficulty: 1 mile roundtrip (out-and-back)
Trailhead Location: End of Kolob Canyons Road at the Kolob Canyons viewpoint parking lot
Things to Note: This hike is in the Kolob Canyons section of the park, which is 40 miles north of the main Zion Canyon. The hike is on a dirt trail, which can be muddy when wet.
This nice little trail follows a small ridge and offers incredible views of the Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains.
Hikers will be treated to a beautiful display of wildflowers during the spring and early summer months, the Timber Creek Overlook Trail is covered in a beautiful display of desert wildflowers.
Pack a lunch and enjoy the views while you eat at the picnic area which is located near the hike trailhead.
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Zion Besides Hiking
Zion National Park is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. The park is located in a remote area, far from the light pollution of cities and towns.
As a result, the night sky is incredibly dark, making it easy to see the stars and even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way if you’re lucky.
Click here to read more about the best timing and locations for stargazing in the park.
Take a Scenic Drive
Mount Caramel Highway
The Zion-Mount Caramel Highway is an incredible drive through Zion. It connects the south entrance station to the east entrance station and continues east out of the park.
The section of the highway that is within the National Park is about 12 miles long.
The road consists of winding switchbacks, multiple scenic pullouts, trailheads, breathtaking views, and a fun trip through the Mount Caramel Tunnel, a long, narrow tunnel that slices through the mountains.
Kolob Canyon Road
A beautiful 5-mile road in the Kolob Canyons section of the park with access to trails and scenic viewpoints.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
There are many popular hikes and sights located along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles most of the year, and can only be accessed by park shuttle, on foot, or by bicycle.
Per the National Park Website – during the shuttle season visitors cannot drive personal vehicles on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive unless they are staying at the Zion Lodge (must show proof).
The park shuttles are typically required on weekends only in February, daily in March-November, and daily during the last week of December.
If you want to avoid riding the shuttle, here are 10 Incredible Things to Do in Zion National Park Without Riding the Shuttle.
There are a few shops to rent bikes at in the town of Springdale (right outside Zion National Park).
The Pa’rus Trail is the only trail within the park that allows bicycles. It would be a great option for families, as it is a flat and safe trail.
Bikers are permitted on all of the roads in the park but are not allowed to ride through the Zion-Mount Caramel Tunnel.
Another fun option is to bike the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is not open to private vehicles (other than bikes) for most of the year. You would be able to access everything along the scenic route without riding the shuttle.
Check Out the Visitor Centers and Museum
The main Visitor Center is in Zion Canyon, but you can also check out the Visitor Centers in Springdale and Kolob Canyons.
You can check out the gift shop, learn more about the park, or get questions answered by a park ranger.
You will also be able to get information on current weather conditions and trail/road closures.
In addition to the Visitor Centers, you can also visit the Zion Human History Museum.
Catch a Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge
Canyon Junction Bridge is located near the Visitor Center in Zion Canyon and is one of the best spots in the park to watch the sunset. You can park at the Visitor Center and walk over to the bridge.
During golden hour, you will have a perfect view from the bridge of the iconic Watchman peak glowing orange in the setting sunlight.
This is one of the most popular photography spots in the park, especially at sunset. I would recommend arriving early so you can get a good spot.
Look for Wildlife
There is a very good chance that you will spot some wildlife during your visit to Zion National Park, especially if you are keeping your eye out as you are hiking and driving through the park.
Mule deer, lizards, bighorn sheep, rock squirrels, and a wide variety of birds are among the most commonly sighted wildlife in the park. There are hundreds of other creatures in the park as well – read more about them here.
Visit Farm Animals
The last time we visited Zion, we stumbled upon the cutest little mini farm in Springdale less than 5 minutes from the park entrance.
You will find this sweet little hidden gem behind the Bumbleberry Inn just off Zion Park Blvd (the main street through Springdale).
P.S. We enjoyed staying at the Bumbleberry Inn. There were incredible views right outside our window, and guests get a complimentary breakfast at the delicious Oscar’s Cafe across the street.
Another option for seeing farm animals is Fort Zion, a fun little tourist attraction that has ice cream, a gift shop, and a petting zoo. Fort Zion is about 20 minutes west of Zion National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to get into Zion National Park?
If you plan to visit 3 or more National Parks within a year, it is worth getting an American the Beautiful Pass ($80/year)
Do you have to have a permit to get into Zion National Park?
As of now, no tickets, permits, or reservations are needed to ride the park shuttle or enter Zion National Park.
You will need a permit for certain hikes, including Angel’s Landing, The Subway, and the Narrows top-down (you don’t need a permit if you are hiking the Narrows from the shuttle road/Riverside Walk access point).
Are there any stroller-friendly trails in Zion National Park?
There are 3 stroller-friendly trails in Zion:
- Pa’rus Trail
- Riverside Walk Trail
- Lower Emerald Pools Trail (although this one is a bit uneven, so an umbrella stroller might be tough)
The Riverside Walk Trail and Lower Emerald Pools Trail are both on the scenic drive, which requires riding the shuttle to access them throughout the majority of the year.
Strollers are allowed on the Zion shuttle. If your stroller is large, you will need to put it on the shuttle bike rack.
When is the best time to visit Zion National Park?
Zion National Park is open year-round. There are pros and cons to visiting during each season. The best time to visit depends on what you are looking to get out of your trip
Spring: Early spring may have fewer crowds. Spring typically has mild weather. You may be able to see wildflowers. One downside to visiting in the spring is that winter snowmelt can cause water levels to be high/too strong, causing some of the popular trails to be closed.
Summer: Crowded and can be very hot. The water hikes in the park would likely be more enjoyable/comfortable in the summer. The summer monsoon season is July-September and brings the potential for dangerous flash flooding.
Fall: Ideal temperatures, less crowded, more likelihood of all trails being open.
Winter: If you don’t mind dealing with colder temperatures, winter can be a wonderful time to visit the park because it will be far less crowded. The shuttle system does not run during the winter, meaning the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to private vehicles. One downside is the potential for some trails and roads to be closed due to icy conditions.
What are the closest airports to Zion National Park?
Closest International Airports:
- Las Vegas, Nevada Airport (LAS) – 170 miles
- Salt Lake City, Utah Airport (SLC) – 300 miles
Closest Regional Airports:
- St. George, Utah Airport (SGU) – 49 miles
- Cedar City, Utah Airport (CDC) – 60 miles
Make sure to add some of these family-friendly activities and easy hikes in Zion National Park to your travel plans! Happy travels!
Traveling with kids? Check out these posts for tips on traveling with young children!
Planning a Utah Road Trip? Read about Bryce Canyon National Park!