The Riverside Walk is an excellent easy Zion hike with tons of epic scenery with very little effort required. Alongside the Riverside Walk, it really feels like Zion National Park is just showing off… the scenery is really incredible.
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The Zion Riverside Walk is on a paved trail which run parallel to the Virgin River. It’s the feeder hike to the famous Narrows hike. But, this easy Zion hike is much more than simply a way to get to the Narrows.
They call this a “walk” as it’s not really a hike…. it’s a paved Zion walking trail which runs parallel to the Virgin River.
The Zion Canyon gets quite narrow on the Riverside walk. With massive cliff walls looming overhead it’s a pretty dramatic kid-friendly Zion hike.
Add to this the chance see hanging gardens, rock climbers and towering waterfalls and you have the makings of a great easy hike in Zion National Park.
Riverside Walk Stats
Distance: The round trip distance of this easy Zion walk is 2.2 miles / 3.5 km.
Elevation Gain: The Zion Riverside Walk is very flat and has very little elevation gain. Over the course of 2.2 miles, we only gained 57 feet / 17m in elevation.
Difficulty: The Riverside Walk is short and flat enough to be ranked as “easy”. Our 3 & 5 year old kids easily did the entire length of this kid-friendly hike themselves.
Duration: It took us 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete the Riverside Walk with our kids. Without the kids, Celine and I could have done this short Zion hike in around 35 minutes.
Riverside Walk Location
How to Get There: To find a Zion National Park parking spot, you’ll need to arrive quite early in the day, especially during peak times. We drove to Zion at 8am on a Sunday in April and the lot was nearly full.
If you aren’t an early riser, you can take a free shuttle bus from many spots in the town of Springdale to the park gates. There are plenty of paid parking spaces in Springdale, but these too fill up early during peak times.
Between spring and fall, there are no private cars allowed on Scenic Drive within Zion National Park. In lieu of cars, Zion operates a free shuttle bus service instead, which takes you to all the major spots within Zion Canyon.
The Riverside Walk trailhead is located very close to Shuttle Stop 9 (Temple of Sinawava). It’s a 40 minute drive on the shuttle from the Visitor Center to the trailhead.
Zion Riverside Walk Highlights
There are several special viewpoints on the Riverside Walk:
Shortly after the Riverside Walk begins, you can leave the main trail and walk on a dirt path to the side of the Virgin River. Above this point is a super-high Zion waterfall which starts near the top of one of the towering cliffs overhead.
This Zion waterfall is so high that the water dissipates on the way down; only to reform into a waterfall again as it hits the rocks close to the bottom. The only other place in the world I have seen this effect is Angel Falls in Venezuela.
The furthest point of this walk is where the famous Zion Narrows meets the Riverside Walk.
You’ll notice that the on-land trail ends here… that’s because the brave people doing the Zion Narrows hike need to get in the river and stay there for the duration of their hike!
Hiking Riverside Walk with Kids
- There are bathrooms and a water filling station at the trailhead.
- The Riverside Walk trail is paved, but it’s covered with a thin layer of dirt, which can get a bit slippery at times. You can wear just about anything you’d like on your feet for this hike, but you may want closed toed walking shoes if you leave the main trail for the dirt path side trails along the riverside.
- Given the Riverside Walk is through in a narrow canyon, be prepared for cooler weather than the forecast calls for. It takes much longer for the sun to find you on this hike, so it can be quite chilly. A light fleece jacket will help keep you warm.
- The Riverside Walk is stroller accessible, but the vast majority of hikers with small kids had their kids in a carrier for this hike.
- No dogs are allowed on Riverside Walk.
- Keep your eyes open for Zion wildlife. We saw a wild turkey on the shuttle bus ride and we saw a deer in the trees during this hike.
- There are lots of very friendly squirrels along the Riverside trail, which will delight your kids. Note, the fine for feeding them is $100.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
There are lots of benches along the way on this walk which make an ideal spot to stop for lunch. Alternately, there is a rest area with a stone wall to sit on at the end of this hike (where the Narrows hike begins).
Zion Canyon Hiking Safety
- The sun can get intense in southern Utah, so bring more water than you think you will need.
- A small section of bushes near the beginning of this hike had a poison ivy warning sign.
What to Bring to Zion
Other Kid-Friendly Zion Canyon Hikes
If you are looking for additional easy, kid-friendly hikes in Zion National Park, we suggest taking a look at Weeping Rock Trail, Grotto Trail and Pa’rus Trail (which we did back-to-back in a single day).
Other more-challenging, yet very do-able family-friendly Zion Canyon hikes you may enjoy are:
- Enjoy the cooler air and pine forests while hiking the Northgate Peaks Trail with kids
- Break a sweat for some incredible views on the Watchman Trail
- Walk behind a waterfall hiking the Lower Emerald Pool Trail with kids
If you have an adventurous parent in the family, consider treating them to a day without kids while they hike Angels Landing trail, while the other parent spends an enjoyable day with the kids doing some of the easier hikes in the park.
Visiting Zion with Kids
For more things to do in Zion National Park with kids, family friendly Zion hotels and campgrounds, visit our Zion National Park with Kids post.
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