My kids were 7 and 10 when we first road-tripped as a family to Zion National Park—the perfect ages for exploring this red rock canyon landscape. The views are top-notch at any age, but outdoor adventuring seems to be made for the young and the young at heart. We've biked the trails, waded through the Virgin River (and tubed it outside the park), hiked to epic vistas, and rode horses through the canyons. I suggest all of it.
The park has three sections: Zion Canyons, easily explored on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion-Mt. Caramel Highway, Kolob Terrace Wilderness, and Kolob Canyons in the northwest of the park. Explore them all on this 3-day itinerary full of activities we've loved.
Whether snow in winter or heat in summer, this four-season landscape goes to brutal extremes; be prepared.
If you only have time for one thing, make it horseback riding through the heart of the park.
Today is a good day to get your bearings along the park’s main thoroughfare, Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Grab a map at the Visitor Center, see Zion National Park Lodge, and perhaps check out a hike—Emerald Pools trail is a relatively easy favorite.
Take the afternoon to visit Springdale, tube in the Virgin river, shop for geodes, rent a bike, or have another epic outdoor adventure. Canyon rappelling, via ferrata or Jeep touring, anyone?
Kolob Canyons is a lesser-visited section of the park. A beloved first-come, first-served campground is here, along with a 5-mile (8-kilometer) drive with crimson canyons, hiking trails, and scenic viewpoints. On the return, check out Grafton, a historic Mormon ghost town where "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and other Hollywood westerns were filmed.
Families with older kids might tackle one of the park's most ambitious hikes, The Narrows. (Younger kids will love the easy Virgin River preamble to The Narrows.) The hike meanders through a river that flows into a narrowing canyon with high sandstone walls. Highly memorable, it requires preparation and fit participants.
The park's quieter eastern side has much to behold. You'll find Checkerboard Mesa, Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, bighorn sheep, and picture-perfect vistas. Link up with an experience that works for your family, including canyoneering, Jeep tours, and horseback riding.