I wouldn’t necessarily recommend visiting Zion National Park in the summer, but if you find yourself in Zion during June, July, or August here are a list of some places you can check out to stay cool!
Which to me goes without saying. If you know anything about Zion National Park chances are you are know about the Narrows. If anyone should say anything about staying cool in Zion you absolutely need to mention the Narrows.
This one is super easy to find. Take the Zion Shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava (last stop) and VIOLA take a one mile hike to the beginning of the narrows. The hike isn’t very difficult. Depending on the time of year it is mostly very easy (and not freezing) to hike up the Virgin River and to be awestruck by the tall cliffs. I’ve hiked the narrows from the top down and from the bottom up. It never gets old. Depending on the length of legs of your child if you hike up far enough you can find some pretty cool pools to play in, but I wouldn’t expect my 3 or 4 year olds to do well with that hike. If you have never been to Zion National Park this should be the #1 thing you do when you get to the park! The Narrows are impressive and GORGEOUS.
There are places to stop along the trail to dip into the water too if you don’t think you want to walk 1 mile. This seems to be a recently development from the last time I was here.
If you are already familiar with the Narrows and you are looking for something NEW you should try….
2. Exit of Spry Canyon
This one is less than a 8 to 10 minute walk from the road. At the time that we went there were 3 separate pools of water. The first one we came to was pretty easy to hike to and our kids loved it. The second pond was deeper, more appropriate for those who want to cliff jump, but more difficult to hike to for little kids. The third pond was even more difficult to hike to and required a little bit of scrambling/rock climbing. There is a beautiful waterfall that has a “water slide” where those interested can slide into the water. I did not take my kids to the third pool because I have 3 kids under the age of 4 and that seemed like a sketchy situation for me to be in. Getting to the second pond required a lot of climbing over rocks and boulders which was difficult for my twins, but it was a 2 minute scramble.
The trail is pretty much flat to the first pool and it was perfect for my kids. They played in the sand, jumped into the water, and caught tadpoles. We stayed in this location for 2 hours. It was awesome!
Pros: The trail is flat, only a 8-10 minute hike, soft sand to play in, tadpoles to catch, and rocks to throw into the water. The first pool is not as crowded because more people who are interested in this route are interested in the waterfall. So we found that we had the first pond all to ourselves as everyone that we saw was headed for the waterfall
Cons: The first pond may not even exist depending on the type of winter that happened. If not you will only find 2 ponds and not 3. I came by here last summer in May and I don't remember there being 3 ponds.
3. The Virgin River at Stop 3, Canyon Junction
If you ride on the shuttle from the visitor’s center, you would get off at Stop 3 - Canyon Junction and cross the road towards the river. There are signs that point to “River Access” which makes it easy to get down to the river. There are many places for people to just sit and relax and enjoy the flow of the Virgin River. Again, this may vary depending on the time of year. The river isn’t always slowly moving. :) We found a perfect spot away from other people where all of us could just hang out. The current wasn’t that fast, in fact hardly noticeable, and our kids were able to safely stay close to us without any problems. I loved this place. It was SO CLOSE to the road. :)
Pros: Close to the road, shaded, cool, and secluded in some parts great place to have lunch
Cons: How relaxing and slow moving the river is may vary on the time of year. This place could potentially get very crowded because of how easy it is to access it.
4. Pinecreek Canyon
At the end of Pinecreek there is a giant pool. You can access this from the second switch back as you are going up to the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. (There are 3 total switchbacks.) If you park at the switch back and walk to the brick wall you will find a dirt trail on the other side. Follow it down. As far as I can tell there are 3 different trails, one is VERY STEEP, one is slightly steep, and the other is a steep boulder climb. (Regardless, all trails leading down are steep!) One of the three trails isn’t as established and is pretty painful if you are walking with kids. I would HIGHLY recommend looking for a well established trail.
This wasn’t too far from the road, at most 5 minutes down to the pool, but it was a pretty good steep descent and the kids that were under the age of 4 did have some problems with it, but it is short lived and I wouldn’t really let a steep down climb discourage me from coming here with toddlers. The pond in some places is 11 feet deep, at the time I was there but may vary depending on the time of year. Everyone was jumping in and off of large rocks and every enjoyed it too. After about 2 hours we hiked out, with toddlers who were in sore need of a nap, needless to say that made the hike out very painful, but it was short-lived.
Pros: Near the road, BEAUTIFUL
Cons: Steep descent, Crowded, deep pools (so make sure your kids can swim or have floaties) Places to sit to have lunch are not very good. Not impossible, but definitely awkward-- especially if there are large crowds in this area
This is awesome!! I will be heading to zion with a toddler and a one year old in a week. I found this information incredibly useful. Thanks!