We spent 5 days in Zion National Park with kids (who were 3 & 5 years old at the time) in mid-April. We love to go on family hikes to enjoy the beauty of nature, so a visit to Zion Canyon with kids was ideal for us. A lot of people visit Zion in 1 day, but Zion Canyon is one of the best national parks in the USA, so if you have time, we encourage you to stay longer and enjoy the many great things to do in Zion with kids.
Before you visit Zion with your kids, get the latest on COVID regulations, closures and advisories with the latest Zion National Park updates from the National Park Service.
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Zion National Park with Kids
- Shuttle Buses: Getting Around Zion National Park
- Things to do in Zion National Park with Kids
- Watchman Trail with Kids
- Lower Emerald Pool Trail with Kids
- Pa'rus Trail with Kids
- Riverside Walk with Kids
- The Grotto Trail with Kids
- Weeping Rock Trail with Kids
- Northgate Peaks Trail with Kids
- Angels Landing Hike
- Zion Junior Ranger Program
- Where to Stay in Zion National Park
- Kid-Friendly Hotels near Zion National Park
- What to Bring to Zion National Park with Kids
- Visiting Other Utah National Parks
- More National Parks with Kids
Shuttle Buses: Getting Around Zion National Park
If you visit Zion National Park between spring and fall, you will not be allowed to bring your car into the park due to congestion issues. There is a small parking lot near the Zion National Park Visitor Center, but it typically fills up prior to 8am.
If you are not an early enough riser to get a coveted Zion parking spot, there are two free Zion shuttle services which will get you around during your stay:
The first shuttle service to be aware of is the one which moves visitors from the town of Springdale to/from the gates of the Zion National Park. There are nine stops on the Springdale to Zion shuttle route, starting at the Majestic View Lodge (stop 9).
It may sound great to stay as close to the Zion national park gates as possible, but we were there in mid-April and we stayed at the Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort near stop 3. We found that more often than not the Springdale shuttle buses were already completely full when they reached our stop and we couldn’t get on.
Luckily, it was only a 15 minute walk from our Springdale campground to Zion National Park, so most mornings we skipped the Springdale shuttle and walked to Zion. If you plan on staying in Springdale and taking the shuttle to Zion, we recommend staying in the south-half of town, to give you a better chance of getting a seat on the shuttle. See our family-friendly Springdale hotel recommendations below.
Zion National Park Shuttle
Once you have paid to get into Zion National Park, your next step is to hop on the Zion shuttle bus. There are 9 stops on the Zion shuttle bus route, beginning at the Zion Visitor Center and ending at the Temple of Sinawava (stop 9). It takes approximately 45 minutes to take the Zion National Park shuttle from the Visitor Centre all the way to the end.
Keep your eyes peeled while on the Zion shuttle bus as it’s a great opportunity to see some of Zion’s wildlife, such as deer and wild turkeys.
We visited Zion with kids in mid-April and the wait for the shuttle was never more than 10 minutes. During spring break and the summer months, the wait for the Zion National Park shuttle bus can exceed an hour, so do yourself a favor and get to the park as early as possible, or enjoy one of the kid-friendly hikes which depart from the Visitor Center.
Things to do in Zion National Park with Kids
We came to Zion National Park with kids to do what we love most: family hiking. We spent most of our days exploring all the corners of the park while enjoying the best of the kid-friendly Zion hikes.
Zion Junior Ranger Program
Without question, one of the best things to do in Zion for kids is the fun and educational Junior Ranger program. Kids must complete a number of exercises within the Zion Junior Ranger Handbook (available at the Information Desk at the Visitor Center) and must also attend a Ranger-led talk at the Zion Museum.
The Zion Junior Ranger program is educational, but is designed to be a ton of fun for the kids. When our kids completed their assigned tasks, a Zion National Park Ranger checked their work, led them in saying the Junior Ranger Oath,
“I am proud to be a Zion Junior Ranger. I promise to help take care of and protect Zion National Park and all national parks. I also promise to continue to explore, learn about, and respect the natural world wherever I go.”
After completing the oath, the kids were given their Zion Junior Ranger badges – they were beaming with pride!
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
Zion National Park Camping
Camping near Zion National Park is one of the most fun ways to stay near Zion with kids. We camped at the Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort near Springdale Shuttle Stop 3. We chose to stay at the Zion Canyon Campground as it was close to the national park entrance and camping near Zion is an affordable way to stay in Springdale (hotels can get quite expensive).
We were lucky enough to get a campsite right next to the Virgin River, which provided a calming white noise at night. Although we found the Springdale to Zion shuttle was almost always full when it got to Stop 3, the campground was only a short 10-15 minute walk to the Zion National Park entrance.
Zion National Park Vacation Rentals
When we travel, we typically prefer to stay at an Airbnb or VRBO. As a family, we enjoy having our own bedrooms, along with a full kitchen and laundry facilities. There are many Airbnb and VRBO rentals in Springdale, but if you are traveling to Zion on a budget, you will find more affordable vacation rental options in Hurricane (about 30 minutes outside of Springdale).
Family Hotels in Zion National Park
For kid-friendly Zion National Park lodging, a fun option would be to stay at the historic Zion Lodge, the only hotel inside Zion National Park (at shuttle stop 5). Guests of the Zion Lodge can stay in a historic cabin or within the lodge in a room with 2 queen beds. As a fun way to get around Zion National Park from the central location of Zion Lodge, bikes are available for rent.
Kid-Friendly Hotels near Zion National Park
As described above in the shuttle section, if you wish to stay at a family-friendly hotel in Springdale, try to stay within walking distance of the Zion National Park Visitor Center or stay in the southern half in order to give yourself a chance of getting on a Springdale to Zion shuttle without much delay.
The following are the best kid-friendly hotels near Zion National Park, listed in order of walking distance from the Visitor Centre (the closest hotel listed first):
- Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection By Hilton: This is the closest kid-friendly hotel in Springdale to the Zion Visitor Center. The Cliffrose Springdale offers excellent choices for families with two or three bedroom suites or villas. There’s also a pool and a hot tub to enjoy after a fun day at Zion with your kids.
The Cliffrose Springdale is so loved by families visiting Zion, it has earned a perfect rating of 10/10 from families on Booking.com at the time of writing.
- Flanigan’s Inn: Family-friendly accommodation options at the Flanigan’s Inn range from a two-bedroom suite to a two-bedroom house. With a swimming pool and an excellent location, Flanigan’s Inn has also earned an extremely high 9.8/10 rating from families on Booking.com.
- Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites: The Best Western Plus offers an outdoor pool and hot tub. This family-friendly hotel near Zion is great for large families, with a three-bedroom option which sleeps up to 8 guests!
- La Quinta by Wyndham at Zion Park/Springdale: The La Quinta hotel is the furthest family-friendly Zion hotel on this list, but it’s still less than a mile from the Zion Visitor Center. Families will enjoy a stay in a Family Room, complete with bunk beds and a daily buffet breakfast.
If you’d like to see additional family-friendly hotels near Zion National Park, we recommend Booking.com. We use Booking for almost all of our family hotel stays as we find their ‘Top Picks for Families’ recommendations very helpful.
What to Bring to Zion National Park with Kids
Zion National Park offers some of the world’s best adventure activities. We found most of them to be beyond the capability of our young kids, so we focused our time on kid-friendly things to do in Zion National Park, which were mostly hiking.
We’re minimalists when it comes to hiking gear, but here is what we would recommend you bring for visiting Zion National Park with kids each day:
The most important consideration when visiting Zion National Park with kids is to protect them against the sun. For sun protection we recommend kids wear hiking hats and sunscreen, while carrying hydration packs for the adults and kids will help keep everyone hydrated.
The National Parks Service Junior Ranger program encourages kids to pick up 3 pieces of garbage on every hike. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did that? At a minimum, bring a small garbage bag to carry out your own trash, and even better carry out someone else’s too.
If you plan on doing a lot of hiking in Zion with your kids, take a moment to check out our Tips for Hiking with Kids and the Best Hiking Gear for Kids. The miles will go faster and you’ll all have more fun with these hiking songs for kids.
Visiting Other Utah National Parks
No family road trip to Utah would be complete without a visit to all Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks! We’ve got you covered with detailed posts on all the hikes we did and where we stayed here:
- Ultimate Guide to Bryce Canyon National Park with Kids
- Capitol Reef National Park with Kids
- Arches National Park with Kids
- Canyonlands National Park with Kids
We also highly recommend a stop at Goblin Valley State Park with kids!
Check out our web story on Utah with kids!
More National Parks with Kids
Visiting national parks with our kids is one of our favorite things to do on family vacations. If your family vacation plans extend beyond Utah, check out these amazing kid-friendly national parks in the US and Canada:
- Shenandoah with Kids
- The Blue Ridge Parkway with Kids (actually a National Parkway, not a national park)
- Great Smoky Mountains with Kids
- Joshua Tree with Kids
- Banff with Kids (Canada’s most beautiful national park)
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