Brilliant red cliffs loom over a verdant river valley at Zion National Park, one of the most popular places in southern Utah. The best way to see the park is on the well-loved network of trails that winds its way up the cliffs and through the lowlands. Whether you’re searching for a short hike with the kids or an all-day trek, this awe-inspiring park has the perfect trail. During the late fall, winter, and early spring, you can drive from many Zion National Park vacation rentals and easily park at the trailheads. If you’re visiting between mid-March through October, hop on the free shuttle bus to reach these trails.
1. Angels Landing
The Angels Landing trail offers some of the most spectacular views of Zion, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The trail starts out near The Grotto Trailhead parking lot with 2 miles of paved pathway, following a river and running through a lovely shaded canyon. After Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 challenging switchbacks, the hike gets serious. From Scout Lookout, the last 1/2 mile of the trail follows the ridge line of a narrow sandstone fin, with terrifying drops on either side. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and allow between 4 and 5 hours to navigate the full length. The trail is suitable for kids until Scout Landing; at that point, exercise extreme caution.
2. Taylor Creek Trail
If you’re looking to escape the summer heat and crowds, head straight for the northern Kolob Canyons section of the park, which is an easy drive from vacation rentals in Cedar City. Park in the Taylor Creek Trailhead parking lot and follow the rugged, well-shaded trail along the creek and up a canyon until it reaches the stunning Double Arch Alcove cave. In the cave, enjoy the dramatic echoes and beautiful photo opportunities. With its gradual ascent and 5-mile round-trip length, the Taylor Creek Trail is great for active kids. Pack plenty of water; it’s not safe to drink from the creek.
3. The Narrows
Hike through the Virgin River as slot-canyon walls tower above in The Narrows, one of the most popular hikes in Zion. If you’re day-hiking, the best entry point is near the Temple of Sinawava parking lot. Walk along the paved 1-mile Riverside Walk to get to the start of The Narrows. The trail runs 9.4 miles through the water and occasional patches of rugged terrain and takes about 8 hours to complete, but you can turn around at any point for a custom hike. Feel free to bring kids that are at least 4 feet tall, provided that they are confident swimmers. The water is refreshing, particularly during the late spring and summer, but it’s important to pack ample water to combat high temperatures.
4. West Rim Trail
Enjoy panoramic views of Wildcat Canyon, Potato Hollow, and Phantom Valley on the beautiful West Rim Trail. Although the full length of this trail is 18 miles, you can create a day hike by turning around at any point during the first 16.5 miles; the return trip involves some climbing. Trail terrain is rugged but suitable for children. Parking is available at the West Rim Trailhead near Lava Point; keep in mind that this road is not plowed in the winter, so the hike is only accessible after the snow melts. There are water sources along the trail at Sawmill Spring, Potato Spring, and Cabin Spring, but you should bring a purification system for safety.
5. East Rim Trail
Explore sandstone cliffs, Ponderosa pine forests, and stunning canyons on the East Rim Trail. If you’re in shape, the full 11-mile trail makes a beautiful and challenging day hike. Start at the East Entrance Trailhead, hike until you connect to Observation Point Trail, and end at the Weeping Rock parking area. Water is available at Stave Springs, which sits about 5 miles from the East Entrance. For a shorter hike that’s fun for energetic kids, start at the East Entrance and climb 3 miles to the rim to check out Jolley Gulch before turning around for a comfortable walk back down.
6. Emerald Pools
One of the most versatile hiking areas in Zion, Emerald Pools is a great choice if you’re bringing little ones or if you have limited time. The paved Lower Emerald Pool Trail starts near the Zion Lodge, where parking is available, and ends at the lower pool and a lovely waterfall. Expect to spend about an hour on the 1.2-mile round trip. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, continue on to the rocky Upper Emerald Pool Trail, which is a 1-mile round trip. At the end of the trail, enjoy the shade and views of the pool at the base of a sheer cliff. Bring your own water, particularly if you’re hiking in the hot afternoon sun.
7. Weeping Rock Trail
If you’re short on time but looking for a challenge, the hike to Weeping Rock is a great option. This steep, paved trail offers a 0.4-mile out-and-back hike with plenty of climbing. At the top, a huge rock alcove continuously drips water, or “weeps,” creating a stunning hanging garden and a picturesque stream. Kids can tackle the trail with stops to rest; keep everyone safe from the summer heat by bringing bottles of water.
8. Observation Point Trail
If you’re in the mood for varied scenery, a challenging climb, and mind-boggling views, head straight for the Observation Point Trail. Load your day pack with snacks and plenty of water, and from the Weeping Rock parking area, follow the East Rim Trail to the Observation Point Trail Junction. As you hike, look for the towering walls of Echo Canyon and pause to check out the rock formations as you climb Mount Baldy. After an exposed section along a sheer cliff, the trail ends at the top of a plateau with views over Angels Landing and the stunning Zion canyons. Because of the rough terrain and steep drops, this trail is not recommended for children. Expect to spend about 6 hours completing the 8-mile round-trip.
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