Zion National Park is growing in popularity due to its incredibly colorful sandstone cliffs and beautiful deep valleys. Trails of all levels of difficulty & types can be found in the park. Almost 5 million people of all ages visit annually because there is truly something for everyone in Zion. Many visitors come to hike through the impressive slot canyons, wade through icy cold water, watch for wildlife, and admire beautiful rock formations. During our short visit, we were most interested in finding The Best Views in Zion National Park.
We traveled to Zion NP with our 18-month-old daughter, so everywhere we went was technically family-friendly. We hike a lot with her and are in pretty good physical shape from frequently taking her up and down difficult trails. As long as your children have experience hiking or can be easily carried, all of these scenic spots are appropriate (except for one)!
We never travel without our Kelty Kids Backpack because it makes it easy to bring our baby as well as snacks & other supplies on the trail. Investing in a good child carrier backpack is essential to making any adventurous hiking trip enjoyable with littles.
Preparing for Zion National Park:
When to Visit:
The best weather in Southern Utah is between March & October. Summer months are the busy season at Zion NP and will be very hot. Be sure to bring enough water and sun protection while you are out on the trails.
Where to Stay:
Lodging near the park can be expensive, but obviously extremely convenient. Hotels in Hurricane are cheaper, which is only 25 minutes from the main entrance. There are several options for camping if you would like to save some cash. You can reserve a camping spot in the actual National Park, but these fill up quickly! Here’s the link for specifics on securing a spot in the park.
There is lots of land near/around Zion National Park where you can also camp for free. A great area for tent or trailer camping is along the North Creek riverbank, just off Hwy 9 about 1.5 miles down Kolab Terrace Road. There’s also tons of space for dispersed camping in the Hurricane Cliffs Recreational Area BLM. https://maps.app.goo.gl/zJvLq5unZZxvPbD49
In the Park:
You can enter the park by foot, bike, or car. If you walk (or bike) in, it costs $20 per person to enter. If you drive through, it is $35 per car. I highly suggest getting the Annual National Parks Pass if you’re planning to go for several days. It covers the cost no matter which way you enter.
From about March to November, there is a free shuttle running through the park, dropping visitors at 9 possible stops. You can access several trails at each stop, so pay attention to which stop you need for the hike you want. As of late March 2022 when we visited, masks are required when riding the free shuttles. The driver had some if you didn’t bring one, but I would suggest coming prepared in case they run out.
There are water filling stations, restrooms, and dining at some of the stops. Here’s the map downloaded from the official National Park Website:
Best Views in Zion National Park:
Angel’s Landing Trail
- 4.4 mile out-and-back
- 1,604 ft elevation change
- Rated level 3 difficult
- Very popular- must acquire permit beforehand
- Not safe for children
Angel’s Landing is probably the most well known trail in Zion National Park, and for a good reason. The stunning panoramic views will take your breath away, as will the switchbacks getting up there.
Take the shuttle to the Grotto drop-off point and cross the river. From there you will follow the West Rim Trail until you arrive at Scout Lookout. The last half mile from Scout Lookout up to the top is chain assisted and not safe for children. Rated as difficult, this hike is not for everyone. Some may argue this is the best view in the park, but I believe there are other spots with similarly gorgeous views. If you don’t make it to Angel’s Landing, all is not lost. But, if you enjoy a challenge and don’t mind walking along a narrow ridge, it’s a rewarding hike that not everyone can say they’ve done.
As of April 1, 2022 a lottery operated permit is required to hike Angel’s Landing. To acquire yours, visit https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/angels-landing-hiking-permits.htm
- 3.6 mile out-and-back
- 1,115 ft elevation change
- Rated difficult
- Family-friendly if you are physically prepared for an intense uphill hike
- Partially paved
If you are not comfortable going all the way out to Angel’s Landing, or you don’t get a permit to do so, Scout Lookout is the scenic point just before the intense, chain assisted portion of Angel’s Landing. Walking up the switchbacks is difficult, yet beautiful, as you see the color change of the stone walls go from red to pink to white. You get an up close view of the sharp drop-offs and narrow path leading to the top of Angel’s Landing at the end. The soaring sandstone mountains surrounding you will leave you absolutely awestruck.
There is a restroom facility here and plenty of room to sit in the shade and refuel. You will need it after going up the paved switchbacks for 2.5 miles! Plan for this hike to take a couple of hours, and bring enough water & snacks to sustain you.
Kolab Canyon Road
A lesser known area of Zion National Park is Kolab Canyon. You do not have to pay an entrance fee for this part of the national park. If you are visiting during the warmer months of the year, you can drive Kolab Terrace Road all the way up to Kolab Reservior. You gain quite a bit of altitude as you drive, capturing beautiful views of the majestic canyon.
There are trails along the way that you can stop for if you choose, but the drive alone will give you a glimpse of the beautiful park. Bathroom facilities can be found at all the national park trailheads as you drive. This is a great option if you are wanting to see amazing views without hiking!
Hop Valley Trail
- 14.3 mile out-and-back (but you can turn around at any point!)
- 1,791 ft elevation change (but again, turn back at any point)
- Family Friendly
- Rated moderate-easy (depending on how far you take the trail)
Hop Valley Trail is right off Kolab Canyon Rd. You’ll avoid the big crowds, but you may encounter backpackers in this area. If you were to walk the entire trail, it is 14 miles and ends at Kolab Arch. We stopped about 2.5 miles from the trailhead, right before the trail descends to the bottom of the canyon. We could see the valley open up and the Arch far in the distance.
The trail starts out sandy, and very flat. There is hardly any elevation change, depending on how far you follow the path. I would rate the portion we completed as easy since we didn’t descend into the canyon. To see a lesser-known, gorgeous view of Zion National Park, you’ll wanna make the stop at Hop Valley. Plus, anyone in your family can do this hike!
Pine Creek Canyon Overlook
- 1 mile out-and-back
- 187 ft elevation change
- Rated easy
- Family friendly
Next on the list is Pine Creek Canyon Overlook. If you are looking for an easy hike with exquisite views, you’ll want to include Pine Creek Canyon Overlook on your itinerary.
The trailhead parking lot is right after the tunnel on Zion Park Blvd as you are driving through Zion from the main entrance. Once you park, you will cross the street and immediately start the short climb. For as quick of a hike as it is, the views are pretty damn incredible. This view is most similar to Angel’s Landing, but with significantly less strain to get there.
We were easily able to pack our 1-year-old daughter out to the lookout with us. Once we got to the end of the trail, it was a daunting drop-off, so just keep your little ones close if they come with you. There is a fence, but the surrounding rocks and edges are still slick.
Drive Zion Park Blvd
If you don’t have the time or energy for hiking, but you want to see the best views in Zion National Park, you can drive the scenic Zion Park Boulevard through the canyon. Roll your windows down, blast some good music, and take it all in. There are several pull-off areas where you can get out and take a few pictures without having to hike. Even if you are planning to hike in the park, I still think this is a fun experience!
You will have to pay the entrance fee of $35 per car unless you have an annual parks pass. You cannot drive the “Zion Scenic Road” where the shuttle services unless you visit during the few months of the year when it is not operating. If you would like to go on that road, you can park and ride the shuttle for free.
Zion has so much to offer, you will love your time there. Whether you get to hike Angel’s Landing or just drive the scenic routes, you will find unparalleled views in Zion National Park.
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