Zion National Park, located in southern Utah in the United States, is one of the country’s most popular national parks, and with good reason: its huge, sheer cliffs of desert red rock dropping to a green valley far below makes for some once-in-a-lifetime views. If you’re planning a trip to Zion anytime soon (and we highly recommend it– check out the tours to Zion we offer!), check out this list of some of the best hikes within the park to start making your itinerary.
1. Angels Landing – 5.4 miles
The trail to Angel’s Landing, a viewpoint 1500 feet above the valley floor, is best known for its white-knuckle final half-mile ascent, where travelers must traverse a narrow, steep path with thousand-foot cliffs dropping off to either side and only a chain to hold on to. Despite being touted as one of the most dangerous hikes in the US, and certainly the most dangerous in Zion National Park, however, those who test their mettle on its switchbacks definitely won’t have to do it alone: the trail is one of the most popular in the park. And the view is so worth it.
2. Emerald Pools – 1.5 to 3 miles
Since the Emerald Pools trail leaves directly from Zion Lodge, this is a very popular route in the park, especially for families. The trail meanders after a small stream for an easy walk to Lower Emerald Pool, a sparkling green pond surrounded on three sides by red rock cliffs. For a bit longer and more strenuous of a walk, you can continue on to Upper Emerald Pool. To protect the area, no wading or swimming is allowed.
4. Canyon Overlook – 1 mile
Canyon Overlook trail is a fantastic option for the casual hiker or those who don’t have a ton of time to see Zion National Park, because it offers all of the views with none of the climb. After only a mile, you can get that top-of-the-world feeling with vast canyon views and iconic Zion cliffs. The trailhead for Canyon Overlook is off of Highway 9, outside of the shuttle’s range, and is one of the few trails located in the Upper East Canyon area of the park.
3. Weeping Rock
Weeping Rock, a large overhanging boulder dripping with refreshingly cool water, is truly a unique hallmark of Zion National Park. The mostly paved trail is fairly steep, but at less than half a mile (one of the shortest hikes in the park), it’s doable for most everyone. This is a great location to see an unusual landmark and cool off in the shade.
5. The Narrows – variable, up to 10 miles
The Narrows is right up there with Antelope Canyon as the quintessential desert slot canyon hike– but The Narrows boasts a river as well! Hikers willing to get their feet wet in the cold Virgin River (and more than their feet, potentially, as water levels can get up to chest-deep depending on the time of year and section of the canyon) are rewarded with the experience of standing in the middle of a narrow canyon surrounded by soaring cliffs on either side. Hiking The Narrows bottom-up is the most common route, and doesn’t require a permit. Working your way up also means that you’re free to turn around whenever you’d like, at 2 or 3 miles, say, or go the full 10 miles.
6. Riverside Walk – 2.2 miles
The Riverside Walk in Zion National Park makes for a lovely stroll along the Virgin River in a narrow canyon with delicate greenery, and culminates at the trailhead for The Narrows. If at any point you feel warm on the walk, it’s easy to hop into the shallow river and cool off, or sit in the shade and enjoy the sunny atmosphere. The Riverside Walk is flat and fully paved, making it wheelchair accessible.
7. Observation Point – 8 miles
For those willing to undertake a strenuous climb, Observation Point trail culminates in what is possibly the best panorama in the park, including a bird’s eye view of Angel’s Landing (yeah, it’s that high). Although the 2300 feet of elevation gain is not for the faint of heart, this route has stunning scenery just about every step of the way, including rare glimpses into the isolated Echo Canyon.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments if you’ve attempted any of these trails before, and also tell us which ones you’re looking forward to exploring on your next Zion adventure! For the most up-to-date information on trail conditions, make sure to visit Zion National Park’s official website.
For more information on how to plan a once-in-a-lifetime (but affordable!) trip to Zion National Park or other must-see destinations in the American Southwest, check out our tours or contact us today.