Zion National Park Itinerary for All Ages

Apr 2, 2016
By: Ann Whittaker

DAY ONE

TRAVEL

Salt Lake City to Zion: 4 hours 23 minutes, 308 miles

Las Vegas to Zion: 2 hours 39 minutes, 160 miles

Goal: Arrive in Springdale for lunch and grocery shopping

LUNCH (in Springdale)

Our favorite family-friendly restaurants in Springdale include:

  • Oscar's Cafe
  • Cafe Soleil
  • Zion Pizza and Noodle co
  • Springdale Candy Company (for dessert)

If you're going grocery shopping, Sol Market on Zion Park Blvd will have something for everyone's palate. Make sure to check out the deli in the back and pick up something for your picnic by the river later tonight.

AFTERNOON: Check-in or set up camp

Our Favorite Zion Lodgings:

Our Favorite Campgrounds:

View other lodging and campgrounds here.

EVENING: Sunset walk & picnic by the Virgin River

Bonus: Hang out until the stars come out. Just make sure you find out what time the shuttle stops running if you're there April – October.

Most trailhead parking lots up Zion Canyon have foot trails that lead you right up to the river banks.

Picnic by the Virgin River

DAY TWO

MORNING: Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools: Lower (Easy), Middle (Easy) and Upper (Moderate)

The Lower Pools are wheelchair accessible and the trail is paved to this desert waterfall oasis--water falling over these red rock cliffs is nothing short of cosmic mind shift. Totally worth the stroll.

The Middle Pools give you a great view of Zion Canyon and the reflections of towering sandstone cliffs in the pools will demand you pull your camera out--go ahead, try to resist! And what kid/parent/grandparent wouldn't get a kick out of climbing some sandstone stairs to get there? This hike wins. Every time.

The Upper Pools aren't much more difficult--there's a few more rocks on the trail and grandma and grandpa might want to bring along a walking stick to help them with the uneven steps.

 

Lunch: Picnic at Temple of Sinawava by the river

AFTERNOON: Riverside Walk

Riverside Walk Trail

This wide trail is good for a mosey further up the canyon and a walk in the river in case summer temperatures are oppressing you and making the entire group grumpy beyond reasonable conversations. Summer temps can make any sane person a wee bit crazy. But that's what cool canyon hikes are for, right?

Sitting by the Virgin River just off the Riverside Walk Trail

EVENING: Dining Out in Springdale in Style

Our favorite fancy(ish) restaurants in Springdale include:

  • Bit ‘n Spur
  • Switchback Grille
  • The Spotted Dog

DAY THREE

MORNING: Zion Overlook Trail (Easy)

You've been in the depths of Zion, now it's time to get an overview of the 250 million years of geological wonders you just walked through. Hike a wee bit, take some photos and hold on to this moment because, you know, it's never coming back in exactly the same way. Ya. Zion has been unforgettable, right?

LUNCH: Picnic at the South Visitor Center

AFTERNOON: Bike riding and/or walking the Pa'rus Trail

Rent bikes near the Visitor Center and get right onto the Pa'rus Trail. It's paved and wide and meanders with the Virgin River. If some in your group aren't interested in riding bikes they can stroll along the path, and the kiddos can zoom as they please. You'll get a great view of The Watchman, and plant identification and birdwatching are pleasant activities on this trail.

View of The Watchman from the Pa'rus Trail

Pack up. Go home. Sing some songs on the way home. Try not to think about the office.

A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA

Zion Rock Shops

Springdale has some of the best rock shops in the entire southwest. There's half a dozen or so rock shops along Main Street. Stop in one or two and pick up a geode from Dugway, Utah or some local trilobite fossils. If you're into the usual rose quartz, citrine, kyanite and amethyst, you'll find plenty of that too. And gigantic pieces of blue/turquoise glass. It's pretty. And shiny. And you'll want some. So will grandma.

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