The Riverside Walk in Zion with kids: family guide

Dad and kid walking the Zion river walk

All you need to know to walk the Riverside Walk in Zion with kids and photos with that to expect on this wonderful and easy Zion hike

The Riverside Walk Trail is our favorite family hike in Zion

It is a short, easy trail that follows the Virgin River up to the starting point of the famous Zion Narrows and it very scenic and fun for kids.

The trail is a paved path and poses no difficulties. It has lovely views of the river, passes some scenic spots and, in some locations, allows access to the river bank, which is great especially in summer when proximity to the water will help you cool down.

Some of the river bank access points are close to the start of the trail and they can even be a destination in itself if you have very small kids who can only walk short for short stretches.  

You do not need to be particularly fit to go on this hike and the trail is stroller friendly.

However, I recommend you have walking shoes or walking sandals and you dress for the weather.

We were here in summer and it gets very hot as most of the trail is in the sun, while in winter you may find that the walk gets rather cool, due to the proximity of the water and the rocks.

Whatever time of the year you decide to come, make sure you dress for the weather – you can get an extra layer or t-shirt in the park shop should you find you need one, they have stuff for adults and kids (they also make a lovely souvenir from your stay!)

Zion Riverside Walk Trail at a Glance

On this Zion River walk you can expect:

Difficulty RatingEasy
Elevation Gain57 Feet/17 Meters
Stroller FriendlyYes
Trail length2.2 Miles / 3.5 Km
Time needed1h – 1.5h

Getting to the River Walk Trail starting point

The starting point of this trail is at the Sinawava Temple shuttle stop, which is at the very end of Zion Canyon.

Regular shuttles bring you here and I would recommend to come over even if you just intend to start the trail.

The view here if very different from other parts in the Canyon such as the visitors center and even Zion Lodge and you get wonderful view of the peaks that would be a shame to miss.

At the shuttle stop you have picnic tables, restrooms and water fountain: make sure you fill up your reusable water bottle here as you will want it on the trail on a hot day!

Walking the Riverside Walk with kids

The Riverside walk trail is a mostly flat, wide trail that follows the river up to the start of the Narrows.

As you go, you find the river to your left and you walk sometimes at river level, sometimes a little higher up. 

The trail is marked as having minor drop offs however, it is suitable even if you are afraid of heights.

There is visually nothing scary here (it feels like a walk in the forest) and most drop offs are protected by small brick walls.

Riverside Trail walk with small brick protective wall on the side

This means that you need to keep an eye on toddlers especially but poses very little risk to primary school age kids or older. 

The walk  is not in a forest but you there are several trees here that occasionally provide some shade and, even better, opportunities to see wildlife!

Even on a busy day, we saw many squirrels here and they were super cute and super friendly, walking alongside the people.

As tempting as it can be for kids to try touch them, please make sure they don’t!

Squirrels can bite and pose majour health hazards: the fact that they are so used to humans might make you feel they are tame but they are not so please tell your kids not to feed them, touch them nor do anything that may put them (or the squirrels) in danger.

Squirrel on Riverside Walk Trail in Zion National Park, Utah

Along the hike there are several spots from where it is possible to access the river.

You will find many people cooling down here here however, do check with the rangers before entering the water as you may have water and weather warnings in place. Also, please notice that swimming is not allowed.

As you get to the end of the trail, you encounter and end of trail sign and indeed, you are tno able to push strollers beyond this point as the trail gets small and then enters the river!

This is the famous access point to the Narrows and you will see people with the suitable equipment at their feet and on their shoulders starting the walk in water.

We did not hike the Narrow but we joined the many who had their feet in the river: this is a very beautiful spot and it is a lovely place to stop and watch the hikers.

Top tip: the riverbed is made of pebbles and rock so it is a good idea to bring water shoes.

Zion River Walk Highlights for kids

The walk is wonderful but a few things stood out for our kids:

The squirrels – although we are told you can also see herons and mule deer here!

The river – super fun to get in with the real hikers at the end of the trail

The hanging gardens – wonderful along the massive rocks on you right side

The fun sitting bench under one of the overhanging rocks

Overall, a wonderful family hike!

Practical tips for walking the Riverside Walk with children

The walks is mostly in the sun so, in summer, avoid hours in the middle of the day as it can get very hot

Bring your own water bottle: you can fill it up at the water station at the shuttle stop

Have your own trail snacks – stop at the stop at Zion Lodge farther down the canyon and stock up if you think your kids may get hungry on the trail

Bring a carrier or an all terrain stroller is you are visiting Zion with toddlers or very young kids

Bring water shoes or summer sandals that can go in water so you can let the kids splash in the river

Get the kids in runners or walking shoes: the path doesn’t pose difficulties and you will see many do it in sandals however, sneakers will offer some support and will protect feet from dirt. 

Get the junior ranger booklet at the Visitors Center: it has some cool info for kids and some games such as animal trail bingo that can be fun to play on the path!

Other family hikes in Zion you may like

The Riverwalk Trail in Zion is lovely family walk but there are several others you may enjoy.

With small kids you may like:

Pa’rus trail – easy walk with access to the lovely Zion museum

Grotto Trail – easy walk starting from Zion Lodge

Lower Emerald Pools trail – easy, paved trail to the Lower Emerald Pools and waterfall

Weeping Rock trail – Stror yet steep paved trail ending at Weeping Rock, cool for wildflower and plant spotting especially

Archaeology Trail – short yet steep trail with trailside exhibits and nice views

Before you go….

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