Kid's in Zion - The Junior Ranger Explorer Program is for children ages 6 - 12 and runs from Memorial Day weekend through mid-August 2011. Activities related to Zion National Park and its unique environment. Rangers at the Zion Nature Center make learning geology, botany, and zoology fun while learning to respect and enjoy the beauty of nature. Bring water and have kids dress for outdoor activity since it is both an indoor and outdoor program. A parent or guardian must register children one half-hour before the beginning of the program. The Zion Nature Center is located at the entrance to the South Campground and is accessible without getting on the Zion Canyon Shuttle.
Teach Children to Respect Rock Art
Sacrifice Rock is the easiest rock art site to get to in Zion National Park. Look for a single; flat rock located about fifty-yards east of the parks south entrance. There is a small NPS sign by the petroglyph inscribed rock. Of most interest in this rock is that it is an ancient summer solstice marker. The date to watch is June 21st, when a rock from above will cast its shadow upon Sacrifice Rock. The shadow is said to resemble the "open jaw of a coyote." There has been a great deal of damage done to this site, but the NPS has done its best to restore it to its original appearance.
While Kids are in the Jr. Ranger Program
Parents will not
usually have time to ride the shuttle into Zion Canyon, hike and make it back on time to pick kids up, but the Pa'rus and Watchman Trails are close to the Nature Center. There is also time
to enjoy the beautiful drive along the Zion-Mt.
Carmel Hwy. The
Zion Canyon Visitor Center and Zion Human History Museum are also nearby and offer
ranger talks, a host of displays and a free and enjoyable twenty-minute
Families: Towering monoliths and Zion's sheer beauty are apt to capture
kids attention once electronic distractions are put away. Nature fascinates kids
when it is combined with a little education and a lot of fun. Be careful not
to take children on hikes that are too demanding or dangerous for their age.
Below is a list of kid-friendly trails that are not only
easy, but are fun.
Directions to Zion National Park
From the North: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver. Exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A through Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin. Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park. SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway.
Zion Photo: My son and his father hike the Zion Narrows together. The water needs to be quite low for young kids to go very far.
Lodging and services are available in East Zion. The main road through Zion, the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (SR-9) is open year-round, and is not a route the Zion Canyon Shuttle takes. Zion Canyon is deep inside the park. Towering 3000' walls form a slot canyon, forged by the violent rush of torrent water over millions of years. From late March to late October access through the six mile stretch of road is via the Zion Canyon Shuttle, the rest of the year the canyon is accessed in private vehicles.
Best Family Hikes
Weeping Rock - This is only a half-mile round-trip, but the trail is steep. The uphill hike is to a moist alcove overlooking many of Zion's most prominent landmarks.
Riverside Walk - 2-mile round-trip.
Easy walk beside the Virgin River on a graded dirt walkway. Enjoy a casual stroll along the Virgin River on this 2-mile round-trip walkway. Wheelchairs and strollers can be taken on this path.
Pa'rus Trail - An easy 3.5-mile, round-trip, paved path along the Virgin River for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs.
Canyon Overlook - Families will like this fun one-mile round-trip hike to an impressive view of Zion’s Switchbacks and lower Zion Canyon. The trailhead is at the east side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.
Moderate Hikes for Kids and Families
Emerald Pools - Families will be thrilled with this wonderful trio of trails. A 2.4 mile path leads to some unique pools. Kids will enjoy the refreshing waterfall and emerald ponds. Take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to Zion Lodge, cross the road and you will find the trailhead for Emerald Pools. For the most enjoyment begin your hike using the Lower Emerald Pool Trail and finish the hike using the Kayenta Trail.
Difficult Hikes for Kids, but Spectacular
East Rim - This is a 10 mile hike. The start of the trail
is a hot climb so start early in the day. The end of the trail is a strenuous
downhill hike. Use 2 vehicles or obtain commercial shuttle service. Older children
who are experienced hikers will enjoy this hike.
Zion Narrows - This is for taller and older children only. The Zion Narrows involves hiking through the Virgin River. Wear high quality rubber shoes and put all things in dry bags. Check weather conditions before hiking any slot canyon.
Orderville Canyon Narrows - Hike up the Zion Narrows and detour through the first side canyon. Explore up to the first waterfall.
Animal Lovers - Best Friends Animal Society and Angel Canyon Tours. This
is the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the US, housing over 1800 abused and
abandoned animals. The visitors center is open 7 days a week from 8:30 am to
5 pm. It is located 12 miles South of Mt. Carmel Jct. on Highway 89. 1-435-644-2001
Play in the Sand - The turn-off to Coral
Pink Sand Dunes State Park is located 3-miles from the junction of SR-9 and US-89 (Mt. Carmel Jct.). It's another 8-miles to the dunes entrance gate. The park has a great
campground with showers and piles of sand in which to play.