Zion National Park, UT
Plan to spend most of your time hiking Zion Canyon (the main section). Unlike other parks, Zion doesn't skimp in the beginners' department. What's more, the easy hikes are just as scenic as harder ones. Here are our favorite short hops, ideal for families with small (or lazy) children:
- Weeping Rock Trail. This half-mile trail climbs through lush plant-life and vegetation to a series of springs that flow from a cliff wall. During the spring and summer, wildflowers cover the walls. Weeping Rock is one of the top attractions for kids.
- Emerald Pool Trail. This shaded hike past three waterfall pools is a welcome respite on a hot summer day. The first portion of the 2.5-mile trail is paved and can be negotiated by wheelchairs. For a bit more exercise, continue on to Upper Emerald Pool with its white sand beach. (Sorry, swimming and wading are prohibited.)
- Sand Beach Trail. Another easy loop follows the canyon's west side for 3.6 miles, providing great views of the Three Patriarchs and Streaked Wall. During the summer, horseback rides are also conducted along this trail.