fun things to do with kids in zion national park   Travel for Kids
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Zion National Park

At sunset in Zion, the light turns pink and white cliffs into melted gold, glowing against the deepest blue desert sky. Majestic Zion Canyon is formed by water – ancient sandstone formations cut through and eroded by the Virgin River over millions of years. If kids could dream a magical, ever-changing canyon, it would be Zion.
Tip: Shuttle To explore the canyon, use the free shuttles (cars aren't allowed). Zion Canyon shuttle departs from the visitor center; there are eight different stops, and the shuttle goes both directions every 6 - 8 minutes. The Springdale shuttle goes in a loop from the visitor center to six different stops in the town of Springdale, adjoining the park.
    Zion Canyon Visitor Center At the visitor center, pick up handbooks for the Junior Ranger program, trail maps, and schedule of campfire programs and ranger talks. While you're waiting for the shuttle, check out the outdoor exhibits.
      Spring water Rather than buying bottled water, fill your water bottles with delicious local spring water (free). Zion Lodge and the Human History Museum also have free spring water spigots.
    Museum of Human History At the museum, see a 20 min. film, a good introduction to Zion geology, plants and animals, and early Native Americans (Anasazi, Fremont peoples) who lived, farmed and hunted in the canyon. The museum is free.
    Riverside Walk & Zion Narrows (Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop)
      Riverside Walk Our favorite hike is the Riverside Walk along the Virgin River. The trail follows up the canyon, sheer red cliffs on either side, lush green trees and sandy beaches along the sparkling turquoise Virgin River. The trail is paved, largely level, 2.2 miles round trip.
Zion Narrows
    Zion Narrows – At the end of the Riverside Walk, the trail stops, but you can continue on, walking in the river up to the Narrows. It's a unique and memorable experience to walk in the water through the slot canyon, but here's some tips:
    Flash floods Summer thunderstorms can cause flash flooding, and you definitely don't want to go into the Narrows if there is any possibility of flash floods. Flash flood warnings are posted at the visitor center, so be sure stop there first, before you get on the shuttle.
      To walk in the river, wear water shoes or sneakers, shorts and clothing that can get wet. It helps to have a stick to balance – there's usually a bunch of wooden sticks people have left at the trail end. Or, you can rent equipment in town, special waterproof walking shoes and socks, and study poles.
    Weeping Rock (Weeping Rock stop) One of the unusual features in Zion Canyon are hanging gardens, green plants growing out of the sandstone cliffs, and water dripping down. It's a short hike up from the shuttle stop to see the hanging gardens at Weeping Rock.
    Views of Angels Landing and White Throne (Big Bend stop) From the shuttle stop, sit down on the bench for spectacular views of the White Throne, and Angels Landing, a spectacular ridge, with trees growing along the top (look for mountain climbers ascending the sheer rock face).
    The Grotto (The Grotto stop) Large, shaded picnic area. Also, a level half mile mile trail that goes to Zion Lodge.
    Emerald Pools (Zion Lodge stop)
      The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is good for kids of all ages, The paved trail leads to a waterfall pouring over the cliff ledge into the Lower Emerald Pool below (water is colored green from algae).
Upper Emerald Pool
    Upper Emerald Pool Trail For bigger kids, continue on up the dirt trail to the Upper Emerald Pool. At the Upper Emerald Pool, water cascades down through a cut in a sheer cliff, and you're much closer to the waterfall.
    For a nice loop, from the Upper Emerald Pool Trail, take the Kayenta Trail (1 mile) back down to The Grotto shuttle stop. Tip: On the Kayenta Trail, there are drop offs and no guard rail, but the trail is wide.
    Horseback rides Canyon Trail Rides offers one hour horseback rides through the canyon to the Court of the Patriarchs and back (for kids 7 and up). On half day trips, ride up above the canyon for spectacular views below (kids 10 and up).
  Zion - Mount Carmel Highway The highway between the park East Entrance and Zion Canyon is extraordinarily scenic. Look for bighorn sheep on the colorful cliffs, pass through the Zion- Mt. Carmel Tunnel (an engineering marvel), and stop to look at Checkerboard Mesa, a massive promontory of white Navajo sandstone, lined with cracks in rectangular patterns. The textures of the slickrocks and hoodoos are particularly eye-catching on this drive.
  Tips for enjoying Zion National Park
    Flash floods – Summer thunderstorms can come up, filling the rivers with debris and rushing water. Don't go out hiking if a storm is brewing. It's absolutely essential to check at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center about river conditions before setting out to hike the Zion Narrows.
    Drinking water – Bring lots of drinking water along on your hikes. Fill your water bottles with fresh spring water from faucets at the Visitor Center, Museum of Human History and Zion Lodge.
    Snacks – When you take the shuttle up the canyon, it's a long way from the parking lot and your car. Bring snacks and a picnic lunch along – in the canyon the only food available is the Zion Lodge cafe.
    Don't feed the animals Squirrels look cute and they will be interested in your lunch, but don't feed any of the wild animals.
    Stay on the trail Hiking around the canyon, stay on the trails, and don't throw rocks down below. Stay back from the cliff edges, and don't let the kids wander off.
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