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Biking and hiking Zion National Park

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Copyright: <a href=''>terrytreks / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Zion National Park with kids

Zion wrapped its arms around us and did not want to let go.  On our canyon country blitz through six national parks in the southwest, Zion ranked as our family favorite.  A day of biking and another day hiking the Narrows left us wanting more.

Explore:  The drive from Bryce to Zion itself is nothing short of amazing.  Once on the Zion - Mt. Carmel Highway, we were soon winding through humongous red rock temples.  Emerging from the 1.1 mile long narrow tunnel left us speechless.  This was by far already our family’s favorite national park just minutes in.  We spent 3 nights and 2 full days of play here, but we easily could have spent a week here since there are so many ways for families to play together.


Riding bikes in Zion

We rented bikes from Zion Cycles our first full day there.  We took off straight from their front door and reached the park entrance in no time.  After passing by the campground (pretty, but Zion seems too hot for camping in our books), we picked up the paved Pa-rus Trail, and loved moseying along the Virgin River.  We stopped several times to play in the shallow places and for a picnic lunch.  Our kids especially loved playing in and wading through the cool waters.


Sorry about the belly shot, but here we are are hiking the Narrows from the bottom up.  We dreamt of taking this hike through the Virgin River for months and thankfully the weather was cooperating.  When you do it, check in with local experts about the river's water flow and plan on a very full day for this adventure!  We stopped at Zion Adventure Company the night before to prepare mentally and rent the special water friendly hiking boots and hiking sticks.  Money well-spent as both aided in navigating the slippery, awkward rocks hiding under the cold, flowing river.


Hiking the Narrows with kids

To reach the Narrows, we hopped on the FREE park shuttle bus from one of the stops in Springdale.  We rode the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava.  Our sweet bus driver told us about the sights and history along the way.  We stepped off the bus, visited the restroom one last time and filled up our water bottles.  

From the bus stop, we hiked the easy 1 mile Riverside Walk before stepping in to the Narrows.  We teetered and tottered up through the canyon river bed.  We took recess breaks in popular swimming and jumping spots along the way.  We had a blast!  We lasted as far as our five year old could make it, then turned around to catch the last shuttle back. 

Heads up: no driving is allowed in the park April - October unless you are staying at Zion Lodge.  Also , know the park shuttle schedule and the departure time of the last bus back.   


A top-notch pool, beautiful large breakfast area, outdoor patio areas, wonderfully clean rooms, and laundry facilities made for a dreamy stay at the Hampton Inn in Springdale.  Springdale quickly became our favorite little southwestern town and it sits just outside the park entrance.  In fact, we joked about moving there.  So many family owned restaurants and shops along the little strip. 


Favorite restaurants

Zion Pizza & Noodle (near the park entrance in an old Morman church) and Zion Canyon Brew Pub (literally right at the entrance to Zion Park) were both family favorites for dinner.  In fact, we liked the brew pub's menu so much, we ate there twice!

Don't forget to charge up your GO PRO and camera batteries the night before you hike the Narrows.  Ours both died 30 minutes into the hike.  Oops.   We had a good laugh, then talked nearby hikers into taking videos and pictures for us and emailing them to us later.  Thankfully, fellow hikers tend to be happily helpful. 


Rock climbing and canyoneering

This sounds like a total blast with Zion Adventures.

November 2018 Update: See how we went canyoneering near Zion with our family here.

Read more fantastic ideas for family fun in Zion here or check out Fodors Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West

Have you been to Zion or planning to take your family there soon?  What's high on your list for Zion?