Visiting Zion National Park with your children can be an especially rewarding experience, and is an excellent way for everyone to learn about the park's geology, plants, and animals, as well as to appreciate the unequaled beauty of nature. In addition, Zion National Park has some of the best children's programs we've seen in any national parks.

However, the park is in a rural area, and the gateway towns offer the basics but little more. There are no major chain grocers or discount stores, and although you will be able to buy items such as baby food and disposable diapers, you may not find the variety that you're used to. Parents should stock up before they leave larger communities such as Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, or St. George. It's also a good idea to carry any prescription drugs you might need, and to have the phone numbers of your doctor and pharmacist.

One of the nicest things about Zion National Park is the wide variety of hiking trails that it offers -- there is usually a path suited to every family member's interest and ability level. Among trails that children find especially enjoyable are the Weeping Rock Trail, because it leads to a fascinating rock that oozes water; and the various Emerald Pools trails, which take you to a series of attractive little pools, where you just might see -- or at least hear -- some frogs. The only problem at the Emerald Pools is that kids (and adults, too) have to resist the strong urge to submerge their toes in the dark green water (swimming is not permitted).

Older youths -- perhaps young teens -- who are in good physical condition will enjoy hiking into the Narrows from the end of the Riverside Walk, where a hike is almost a swim, and you're staring up from the bottom of a 1,000-foot ravine. However, the Narrows can be very hazardous, so discuss plans with park rangers in advance.

Park rangers also run special programs just for children. Kids 11 and under can join the Junior Rangers/Explorers and participate in a variety of hands-on activities, earning certificates, pins, and patches. Morning and afternoon sessions, each lasting 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, take place daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day, with children meeting at the Zion Nature Center, near the entrance to South Campground.

Kidding Around -- Kids love the huge screen and dramatic photography in the Zion Canyon: Treasure of the Gods production at the Zion Canyon Theatre.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.