The best travel destinations are places for families to make memories, get some exercise and enjoy some good old family fun. Zion National Park is a great place to visit and go on a family hike — even with young kids! We enjoyed exploring the canyon paths, walking in the river and taking in the gorgeous views on all sides.
To make our family hike successful, we brought some important gear.
Zion Canyon Hiking Essentials
Closed toe shoes that can get wet would be ideal for a hike through Zion Canyon. Our kids took their shoes off to walk in the water but some of the more advanced parts of the trail require hiking through water.
Water is an essential thing to bring along on a family hike. Zion National Park is a desert and it’s important to stay hydrated. We brought water bottles which we refilled several times throughout the day but a CamelBak hydration pack would be most idea for a Zion Canyon hike.
Hats and sunglasses are also important essentials because the sun in the canyon is very bright. Some trees do provide shade along the hike but much of the hike is sunny and hot.
Sunscreen should be applied before starting on your Zion Canyon hike.
Snacks are never a bad thing to bring along on any hike! Trail mix (raisins, nuts and chocolate chips) is a delicious snack to enjoy on the trail, granola bars provide quick energy, and dried fruit is lightweight to carry.
Things to Know Before Your Hike
We wished we would have known a few things before our family adventure through Zion Canyon.
Find parking in town – The town of Springdale lies just outside of Zion National Park. You will need to park in town and take a short shuttle ride to the park. Once you arrive at the park, you will have to board a second shuttle which takes visitors to several stops along the Canyon Loop Route.
Plan to wait in line – We arrived at Zion National Park late morning, around 10:45 am. The line for the shuttle to get to the top of Zion Canyon was 40 minutes long. Early morning seemed to be a popular time for most people to start their hike. When we finished our hike around 2 pm, there was no line for the shuttle at the top of the canyon and also no wait at the bottom of the canyon. If you don’t want to stand in line, you could either start your day earlier (the park opens at 7 am) or wait until the rush subsides and take the shuttle later in the day (although you may run into the returning 6 pm crowd on the way back).
Plan which hikes you will do – It’s helpful to plan your Zion Canyon visit before you board the shuttle because there are several stops you can choose from. The shuttle ride is also 40 minutes long to the top. We rode the shuttle all the way up to the top of Zion Canyon for our family hike, but we could have stopped at the Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge, The Grotto or Weeping Rock, which each have their own hikes and landmarks.
Bring hiking gear – As mentioned, it’s helpful to wear hiking shoes, breathable hiking clothing, a hat and sunglasses, bring sunscreen and water, and plan for kids to get hungry and tired. We brought snacks and a carrying backpack for our 2-year-old. We also ended up carrying our 3-year-old down the last half of the trail.
We hiked a mile or so over a variety of paths that were smooth, rocky, grassy and even sandy. At the end of our hike we stopped at a shallow part of the river so the kids could walk in the water and scramble over some rocks.
Many of the hiking trails go through the shallow river water, which can get up to knee deep. Some of the hiking trails are also affected by flash floods depending on the season. During our visit, the flash flood warning signs said “unlikely”. My kids had fun going off the clearly marked hiking trails and climbing over rocks. The spots we stopped at were very popular with hundreds of people coming and going. We were careful to keep track of our kids around so many people and especially near the water.
Even at the last stop of the Zion Canyon shuttle ride, canyon walls tower over the hiking trails and a shallow river runs along the canyon floor. Some parts of the river flowed slowly, with water flowing swifter and deeper towards the middle. The day we hiked Zion Canyon was just gorgeous with sunny weather, clear skies and beautiful color everywhere. The green trees stood out brightly against the red canyon walls.
Our little adventurers had fun hiking on their own and enjoying even a small piece of Zion Canyon’s natural beauty.
After our hike, we explored the nearby town a little, got lunch, went shopping and enjoyed some ice cream! Don’t miss our travel video, Things to Do at Zion National Park!
I definitely recommend stopping by Zion National Park if you are ever driving through Utah. It’s a fun adventure for the whole family!
Katie enjoys all things creative; DIY projects, photography, decorating and family adventures. She feels blessed to be a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids and many artistic outlets.