6 Tips for Hiking Zion NP with Kids

What we learnt from our First multi-hike day in Zion NP


Water (but don’t pack extra full bottles)

So I was a little over zealous about the whole take plenty of water advice and packed multiple bottles (full bottles) of water that my sweet sweet husband had to lug around.  This is completely unnecessary since the park has plenty of fresh spring water refill centers – practically at every shuttle stop where you can refill.  

Think with the end in mind

Don’t set out on a hike towards the end of the day when the kids are on the brink of breaking down.  Obvious right? Well it wasn’t THAT obvious to me.  I really wanted to see the Emerald pools and since the regular path was closed, we had to take a different route which starts at the same starting point of Angel’s landing.  This wasn’t a difficult path but for it being the end of the day it was long and the day had heated up. This led to a beautiful hike TO the pools but a miserable, scream filled descent, as our 17 month old got hot and bothered in her carrier and just wanted out! – so – lesson learnt – considered the ascent and descent and try to predict based on timing and knowing your kids what the way back will be like.

Also – consider sunset! Hikes with kids sometimes take longer than expected so starting a hike that you know will be cutting it close to sunset may not be the wisest choice with littles in tow.

PicNic areas

The hikes are glorious and the scenery is awe inspiring but for a one year old who is stuck in a baby carrier, it is just hot, cramped and could be pretty boring.  The good news? Zion has a couple great wide open spaces where the kids can just run around, enjoy the fresh air that the park offers, eat some lunch and not be stuck being carried.  These spots are also great for older kids, and gives parents the time to relax.  The lushest place we came upon is the green at Zion Lodge shuttle stop (there is also a place to pick up some food at this stop).  Another spot we enjoyed was at the start of Riverside walk – there is a river access point right as you start this easy paved hike, and at this spot there is a wide open space by the river.

Be flexible

It can’t be the same as it would be without kids so don’t go into it with the mindset that what is planned has to be executed. I feel pretty stupid writing this cos it just seems so obvious whilst I write, but I catch myself getting irritated when things don’t go as planned, so it is always a good reminder.  On this trip we didn’t accomplish the last hike we had set out for ourselves, we didn’t get to see one of the waterfalls – and that is ok.  In the planning phase try to plan with the least capable party in mind, it will reduce frustrations along the way.  

Start with the farthest hike from the shuttle start point

The shuttle ride can be pretty long and if your kids are anything like ours patience is not in their DNA.  Knowing this we decided to take the shuttle to the ‘Narrows’ stop – this is the last stop meaning we started the day with the long shuttle drive, aka when the girls were still chipper and happy.  This was a great move because after hike 3, they could barely make it through a 4 stop drive without making everyone in the shuttle want to walk instead of hearing their whines.  

Give them grace

I keep coming back to this in nearly each post but it is so true and it is SO easy for me to forget.  I want the kids to keep up, to get on with it, to go faster, to appreciate these amazing views and not complain.  I forget they are so little, they just don’t get it and they aren’t supposed to get it.  Traveling with the kiddos is special and makes lifelong memories for us as a family but it is a slippery slope for me to start comparing it to what it was like without them. So I remind myself, and you, to think of the positives of them being around, the giggles, the wanderment in their eyes and the glee they express in having your undivided attention out in the wilderness. It is pretty amazing!

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