In recent years, national parks across the country have seen a boom in visitor numbers. Whether more people are simply looking to get outdoors or social media is bringing stunning views and unique experiences to more individual’s screens, the trend seems to be here to stay.
One big benefit of the boom is that more families are flocking to national parks together than ever before. There’s no shortage of benefits to taking your whole family to a park. Besides a chance to connect and create some incredible memories, there are also some science-backed benefits to kids spending more time outdoors.
Taking your kids to a new national park takes a bit of extra planning. While they might not be up to a long trek just yet, there is always shorter, easier trails ideal for hikers of all ages, not to mention overlooks, visitor centers, and other activities that families can enjoy together. If you’re ready to bring your little ones along for the adventure, keep reading to learn a few hikes in Zion National Park that your family can enjoy together.
Perhaps the most family-friendly trail in the park, Pa’rus Trail is a paved, flat trail that’s great for hikers, walkers, and bicyclers of all ages. Lined with wildflowers in the spring and early summer and colorful leaves in the fall, this 3.5-mile trail is paved from start to finish. This makes it a good spot for families with strollers or those in wheelchairs. Bicycles are also allowed on this trail. In fact, this is the only trail in the park that’s open to both bikes and pets.
Pa’rus Trail begins just past the South Campground and follows the Virgin River. It offers plenty of spots to stop for a break and to take in views of the river. While there isn’t a steep climb, much of the trail is out in the open, with little shade. If you’re planning a visit in the summer, opt to hike it early or late in the day to avoid the heat.
If the 3.5-mile hike is too long, this is an excellent trail to hike out for a distance and then turn around and go back when you’re ready. Or, let the little ones ride their bikes or bring a stroller in case they get tired part-way through.
Weeping Rock Trail
If you’re looking for a shorter, mostly-paved hike, head to Weeping Rock Trail. In fact, the trail is the shortest in the park. At just .4-miles, this trail is great for new or young hikers. To get to the trail, enter the park through the South Entrance, and continue to the Scenic Drive. Drive another 4.6-miles up into the park until you get to the Weeping Rock shuttle stop on the right side of the road.
While it may be shorter than Pa’rus Trail, it’s not short on views. You’ll wind beneath a canyon with lush gardens hanging down overhead. You’ll have a great view of the Great White Throne. There are also steps along the trail that are great for accessing the stream. Little hikers will love splashing around on a hot summer day.
Canyon Overlook Trail
Visitors to the park of all ages marvel at the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. After driving through this engineering marvel, head to the trailhead for the Canyon Overlook Trail for another fun, family-friendly treat. This hike is great for those who want incredible views of the canyon but without the steep hike. At just 1-mile round trip, the hike is relatively flat and looks out over Zion Canyon and the many surrounding peaks. Look down from the trail, and you’ll spot the Pine Creek Slot Canyon far below.
Riverside Walk/Gateway to the Narrows
The Narrows, following only perhaps behind Angels Landing, is one of the most famous hikes in Zion. It’s one of the largest slot canyons in the world, and hiking it usually takes an overnight of roughing it, as the trail stretches more than 16-miles and has hikers trekking through the Virgin River.
But for families who want to see the slot canyon, the Riverside Walk, also called the Gateway to the Narrows, is a great choice. Relatively flat and shady, this 2.2-mile roundtrip hike will take you to the mouth of The Narrows. You’ll wind along the Virgin River and can even walk down to the rocky beach to dip your toes in the cool stream. Steep red rock cliffs on either side make for some incredible views, and when there’s been rain, waterfalls cascade over the side.
Planning a Family-Friendly Trip to Zion National Park
Zion National Park may be home to some incredible, challenging hikes. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have plenty to offer to new hikers of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a stroller-friendly paved trail or one that your kids will enjoy hiking on their own, any of the trails on this list are a great choice.
If you’re planning a visit to Zion for your whole family, a vacation rental is a great way to give everyone space to relax, as well as room for you to come together to enjoy some quality time. Book your stay at Watchman Villas today and see why Zion might just be your family’s new favorite vacation destination.