1 Day in Zion National Park with Kids

Looking for what to do in Zion National Park in one day? We are sharing our tips for how to spend 1 day in Zion National Park.

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We knew we wanted to include a day at Zion National Park in our Las Vegas getaway as soon as we started planning it. Although we are not big hikers we appreciate the National Parks and couldn’t wait to visit.

This would be our third National Park we visited. Check out our visits to White Sands National Park and Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains.

I had seen so many pictures and I couldn’t wait to spend time at Zion National Park. We had one day at Zion National Park and I knew we had to maximize our time.

We were able to fit in 3 different hikes and enjoy the gorgeous setting of Zion National Park.

1 day at zion national park with kids itinerary

1 Day in Zion National Park

Our 1 day at Zion National Park Itinerary was busy but we knew we had to use our time to experience everything we wanted to see and do.

Zion National Park 1 Day Itinerary

  • Arrive at Las Vegas airport (9:00am)
  • Rent car and drive to Zion National Park (160 miles)
  • Arrive at Zion National Park
  • Take Shuttle to shuttle stop 5. Do Lower Emerald Pool hike and the Grotto Hike.
  • Take Shuttle from stop 6 back to the Visitors Center. (Parking or walk back to hotel.)
  • Dinner at Jack’s Sports Grille.
  • Early wake up at 6:00am
  • Breakfast at Best Western/Check-Out
  • Drive to Zion National Park up through Zion Canyon Scenic Drive up to shuttle stop 9.
  • Hike the Riverside Walk.
  • Exit the park and start drive back to Las Vegas or do another hike.

Where is Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in Springdale, Utah. It is in the South-West part of the state. We flew into Las Vegas for our Zion to Las Vegas Road trip and drove a little under 3 hours to Zion. The Las Vegas airport is actually the closest airport to Zion National Park. Salt Lake City is next at 311 miles.

Springdale, Utah is the town that Zion National Park is located and this is where you will search when looking for accommodations.

Zion National Park Weather

We visited Zion National Park during winter and the temperature was mid-50s during the day and dropped to 30s at night. You may even see snow if you visit during the cold months. The sun is out most days so it feels warmer than it actually is but plan on wearing layers, hats, gloves, and jackets.

If you are visiting in the summer it gets very hot with highs in the 90s. Be prepared with layers and lots of water. I highly suggest planning your Zion National Park itinerary around the weather. You also want to pack hats and sunscreen.

zion national park weather average

Where to Stay at Zion National Park

There are a lot of hotels within walking distance of Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites. Prices will vary depending on the time of your visit. Summer months and weekends will be much higher than winter months.

Book early if you can. I checked July 2022 rates (in March) and prices were already well over $300.00/night with limited availability. If you have your heart set on a specific destination book early.

where to stay for 1 day at zion national park

There is also a lodge within Zion National Park called the Zion Lodge. Guests staying here can exit their rooms at the trail heads. Also parking is included with your stay. It is a bit more expensive then the Springdale hotels but you are staying within the park and it may be worth it.

I always recommend shopping for the best travel deals when planning a trip!! This takes time but can help you SAVE! Our favorite places to check: Hotels and other travel needs check out TripAdvisor and Bookings.com. Always compare prices because they often have specials and deals during the year.

Where to Eat at Zion National Park

Most of the dining will be in Springdale in town. The town is very small and if you are looking for quick fast food options you are out of luck. They have also been hit hard with the pandemic and are still recovering in regards to servers and staff.

During our visit we were unable to find any place that would do take-out orders. I think this was due to the staffing shortage and may be different as we move into summer 2022.

We ate dinner at Jack’s Sports Grille. This was perfect for our family. It had American food options and was reasonably priced. A few more options are Zion Pizza & Noodle Co., Zion Canyon Brew Pub, and Casa de Amigos.

where to eat at 1 day at zion national park

Zion National Park Kid Friendly Hikes

We are not big into hiking but we can still appreciate the beauty of the parks and want to experience them. With that being said when I planned this visit I knew we would stick to the easy hikes.

Every family will have a different expectation for what is easy. The hikes we decided to do were paved and wheel chair friendly so we knew they would be okay for us. We probably could have done a few moderate hikes as well if we had more time.

If you are looking for easy Zion National Park Hikes for kids I suggest the Riverside Walk. This was my favorite hike and offered an easy hike with unbelievable views. Most of the moderate hikes have drop-offs. The easy hikes did not and we are not great with hikes.

I found that you do not have to do the tougher hikes to thoroughly enjoy the park. Do what is best for you and your kids. No matter which hike you choose you will not be disappointed. Check the hike descriptions here.

hikes for kids at zion national park

Tips for Zion National Park with Kids

Understand the Zion National Park Shuttle Service

I had to read and reread the shuttle service and keep checking the website up until the day we left to make sure I was up to date on times the shuttle was running.

The basics are there are two shuttle services. One within Zion National Park and one that runs through the town of Springdale.

The Zion National Park Shuttle runs for specific times and dates through the park. This shuttle has specific times and you do not want to miss the bus. If you miss the bus you are expected to walk back to your destination.

The Springdale Shuttle runs through numerous stops in Springdale and drops guests off at the entrance of Zion National Park. There is a stop outside the Best Western we stayed at but the Springdale Shuttle does not typically run in the winter months.

On our 1 day in Zion National Park we arrived at Zion around 2:00pm. We drove around for 15-20 minutes and the parking lot was full.

At this point we had to park at the Best Western and walk 1 mile to Zion National Park. We ran to the Zion shuttle to make the last shuttle of the day at 3:30pm. If we would have missed it we would have been out of luck for our planned hikes for the day.

Because we visited in the winter the shuttle times were limited. Expect longer hours during the spring/summer/fall months.

The following day the Zion shuttle was not running, because it was a weekday, so we could drive ourselves up to the Riverside Walk. We arrived around 7:15am. As we were leaving the park around 9:00am we noticed all the parking lots were full and they were no longer allowing cars to drive up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

I can’t stress this enough: check the shuttle times and use it to plan your day at Zion. Especially with kids! You don’t want to get stuck and have to add hours and miles to your day if you can avoid it.

where to hike with kids at zion national park

Pack Snacks and Water

This may be an obvious one but be sure to pack snacks, water, and anything extra you may need for your hike. You know your kids best and depending on the weather you may or may not need it.

Prepare Your Kids with What to Expect

Depending on the hikes you do you will need to prepare your kids with what to expect for the day. Go over the weather and expectations before you arrive. Talk to them about safety and how long the hikes will be. Everyone will be happier if they know what to expect.

Don’t Underestimate the Crowds

Arrive early if you can because Zion National Park crowds will get busy. We visited in February which is a low crowd time and the parking lots were full. I would think summer is much worse. Plan on arriving very early to secure a parking spot or to enjoy the hikes with less people.

I was surprised at how much we could get done in 1 day at Zion National Park. If you plan to do a few more hikes or a couple of the longer ones you may want to plan an extra day but we felt like we successfully got a lot done with our Zion National Park one day itinerary.

Read Next: Tips for Visiting White Sands National Monument with Kids

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