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Zion National Park is a National park located in Springdale, Utah. Zion is known for its red rock formations and scenic views.
Entry to the park is covered by the Federal Park Interagency Pass which is $80. This pass allows you to visit all federal national parks without paying an additional fee for one year from the purchase date. This pass can be purchased at the park entrance. If Zion National Park is the only U.S. National Park you will be visiting in one year, purchase the standard private vehicle entrance fee for $35.00 upon entry. For the most up-to-date prices, check out the national park website here.
Note: Expect long wait times to enter the park if you travel during the summer months or major holiday vacations.
Here are some activities to do with your family during a visit to Zion National Park:
Hike a trail
Zion has many trails with varying levels of difficulty. I recommend asking a park ranger when you enter the park for a map and recommendations for the best trails to hike.
For a moderate (one-mile) trail with amazing views, I recommend hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail. It only takes thirty to forty-five minutes to complete a round trip, and there are no major hills or steep cliffs. While completing this hike, I saw several families hiking the trail, including toddlers, so it is a trail for all age groups.
Drive the Mt. Caramel Tunnel
If you’re a family who likes thrill, this experience is for you. This1.1 mile pitch-black tunnel is nearly ninety- years old, and its highway extension connects three national parks together: Bryce Canyon, Glen Canyon, and Zion National Park.
As you enter the tunnel, turn your car headlights on because the tunnel is pitch black. It may remind you of something from Halloween night, and the only thing you will be able to see are the lights from other cars. Once you enter the tunnel you cannot stop nor turn around. Despite the inherent dangers of driving through a dark tunnel, the experience is really safe. Drivers are respectful and drive at a slow pace to be able to take it all in. This is a cool experience for kids and fun for adults too.
Bike-ride on a trail in Zion National Park
Bicycling is permitted on all park roadways and on the Pa’rus trail. This trail will be noted on the map that you get from the park.
Before you enter Zion National Park there is a cute little town that leads directly into the park. I recommend bike-riding into the park to truly get to take in Zion’s amazing views. When you drive to Zion, you see the rock formations and mountains from the car, but inevitably you’ll miss some of the views or be unable to stop at every picturesque moment. Biking not only is a bonding moment for the family and a good workout but you’ll have pictures and videos to last a lifetime.
Skip rocks on a river or stream
Skipping rocks is an old pastime that is fun to do no matter where you do it. If you decide to bring a pet along for your trip they will also be able to enjoy the water as well.
Zion has several creeks that run in various directions throughout the park. Along your hiking trail, you may find one or purposefully seek one out. The largest and most obvious river is the Virgin River which you can identify on your map. Prepare to be surrounded by beautiful red rock views and the peaceful sound of flowing streams.
Camp at Zion National Park
There is no way to get closer as a family than to live in an enclosed space for a set amount of time. Zion has three campgrounds:
- The Lava Campground
Before you go, make sure you confirm that your desired campground is open since some may be closed during a specific season.
Arrive early to claim your campsite if you’re traveling by
Where to stay if you don’t want to camp overnight
Camping is not for everyone, but thankfully there are motels and hotels nearby to accommodate families of any size. I loved my stay at the Hotel Zion Inn. Hotel Zion Inn is located in La Verkin, Utah which is a thirty-minute drive from the entrance of Zion National Park.
The motel was clean, and the beds were large and reasonably priced at $90 per night. Directly across the street from Hotel Zion Inn is Stage Coach Grille. The food is delicious, especially their crab cakes and seafood pasta. The restaurant can get really busy, especially during the peak travel season. Consider calling ahead for a reservation if you are a family larger than four.
Other lodging options include:
- Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites
- Bumbleberry Inn
- Cable Mountain Lodge
- Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton
- Driftwood Lodge
- Flanigan’s Inn
- Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale
- Holiday Inn Express Springdale
- La Quinta by Wyndham Springdale
- Montclair Inn & Suites
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott
- Zion Canyon Lodge
Another option is to stay at the Zion National Park Lodge, the only in-park lodging option. As you might expect, bookings go quickly.
The Bottom Line
Overall, a family visit to Zion National Park will be life-changing. The incredible views, breathtaking landscapes, accessible hiking trails, and photo-worthy shots make this a perfect location for family travelers. Your children will thank you in the future for this trip.
Have you ever visited Zion National Park? Drop your best tips in the comments to help other families plan a trip.
Shira Smillie is a travel writer and digital nomad. She writes about her experiences as a solo black woman traveller who fearlessly takes on the world. You can check out her blog: https://blackgirlworldtraveller.com & on social media @blackgirlworldtraveller.