The best hikes in Zion National Park

From staggering Flintstone-like rock domes to breathtaking views of lush Zion Canyon, hiking in Zion National Park gives a whole new meaning to go on the wild side.

Hiking is one of the best ways to see Zion. We are all in the process of it. People flock from all corners of the United States – and the world – to explore the intricate maze of slot canyons, desert oases, soaring sandstone cliffs and bucket list trails. One minute you will be walking through a dry and dusty desert and the next you will be surrounded by beautiful green vegetation and river gardens.

Why do we love to walk in Zion? Because there are trails for everyone – whether you’re a hiking aficionado with thousands of trail kilometers under your boots, a beginner looking to add more stamps to your hiking passport, or someone who simply enjoys a good old stroll. These boots are made for walking tours After all.

Here are some of the best hikes in Zion National Park (in no particular order):

  1. The Narrows
  2. Crying Rock
  3. Emerald Pools
  4. Observation point
  5. Angel’s Landing
  6. Canyon Overlook
  7. Pa’rus Trail
  8. The subway

1. The narrowing

Hikers enjoy the Narrows trail on an Intrepid Travel tour
  • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
  • Distance: 16 miles (may be shorter if going from the bottom up)
  • Duration: 6-8 hours (day hike) or 10-13 hours (night hike)
  • Height: 334 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back or point to point
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes
  • Trailhead: Temple of Sinawava (stop #9) or Chamberlain’s Ranch (1.5 miles east of the East Entrance)
  • Permission required: Yes (only if you hike top-down)

A hike doesn’t quite do it – this is an adventure that will have you wading through ankle-deep (sometimes waist-deep) river passages, jumping into sandstone swimming pools and doing the odd bit of rock scrambling. This is Zion’s most popular slot canyon hike. You can either start at the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava and go from the bottom up, or from Chamberlain Ranch and go from the top down if you want the full canyoneering experience. The latter takes much longer and involves camping halfway. Either way, you’ll have way too much fun looking up at the 1.00 foot sandstone cliffs towering above you to remember you’re on a “hike”.

2. Crying Rock

Weeping Rock in Zion National Park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 0.4 miles
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Height: 98 feet
  • Hike type: Tour
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes
  • Trailhead: Weeping Rock (stop #7)
  • Permission required: None

This path is so beautiful it makes people cry… just for fun. Well, not about the beautiful part. Weeping Rock is a large overhanging rock that “weeps” with water slowly trickling down through the rocks. Thanks to this constant flow of water, the walls are covered with moss and fern and are surrounded by lush gardens. This is an easy, relaxed walk, but just be careful as it can get a little slippery. It is also the starting point for other trails, including Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, and the East Rim Trail.

3. Emerald Pools

USA Zion National Park Lower Emerald Pool
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.5 to 3 miles
  • Duration: 2-4 hours
  • Height: 400 feet (to Upper Emerald Pools)
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: The lower pool is wheelchair accessible with assistance
  • Trailhead: Zion Lodge (stop #5) or The Grotto (stop #6)
  • Permission required: None

Imagine how beautiful it would be to find a lush oasis on a hot summer day in Zion. The Emerald Pools Trail takes you to the falls of the Lower Emerald Pools with the option of continuing to the Middle Emerald Pools or Upper Emerald Pools. You can also go onto the Kayenta Trail if you fancy a bit more of an adventure. You’ll be surrounded by refreshing water streams, green hanging gardens and 300-foot cliffs – don’t forget to pack a picnic for a wonderful lunch under the open sky.

4. Observation point

Hikers on the trail to Observation Point in Zion National Park
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • Height: 2,000 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: None
  • Trailhead: Weeping Rock (stop #7) or East Mesa Trailhead
  • Permission required: None

Observation Point is one of Zion’s more challenging, and you’ll need a full day to do it. This is not one of those trails that tease you and leave you hanging until the end for a great view. Relatively early on, you’ll go through a series of steep switchbacks that offer stunning views of Zion Canyon below. The top is the cherry on an already delicious cake with panoramic views that stretch even further.

5. Angel Landing

Zion National Park Angels Landing
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Duration: 3-6 hours
  • Height: 1,500 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: None
  • Trailhead: The Grotto (Stop #6)
  • Permission required: Yes (but only for the last 0.5 mile portion of the trail)

It doesn’t get more iconic than Angel’s Landing. You’ll climb a series of steep switchbacks that take you through the cool and sheltered Refrigerator Canyon, Walter’s Wiggles and Scout’s Lookout – you can return here if you don’t feel like the next (and most testing) part of the hike. Now it’s the bit you’ve been waiting for: the half-mile walk over the narrow rocky ridge. Chains are bolted on to support you, but the adrenaline rush is sure to get your heart pumping a few beats faster. When you get past that stretch, give yourself a big pat on the back and take a moment to enjoy the incredible 360 ​​view of the canyon below you.

6. Canyon Overlook

A view from the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour
  • Height: 100 feet
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: None
  • Trailhead: East entrance to Mount Carmel Tunnel (under East Temple Saddle)
  • Permission required: None

This family-friendly trail is another all-time favorite. It is also the most photographed part of Zion, and for good reason. They say the early bird catches the worm and we highly recommend setting your alarm early to catch the sunrise over the canyon. It’s incredible. Keep your eyes peeled for the East Temple towers 2,000 feet directly above the overlook (not hard to miss this one really) and also the West Temple, Tower of Virgins, Beehives and Streaked Wall.

7. Pa’rus Trail

Pa'rus Trail in Zion National Park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Height: Mostly flat
  • Hike type: Out and back
  • Wheelchair accessible: Yes
  • Trailhead: Zion Visitor Center/South Campground (stop #1), Zion Museum (stop #2) and Canyon Junction (stop #3)
  • Permission required: None

This trail is named after a Paiute word meaning “bubbling, tumbling water,” and you’ll soon see why. This pet-friendly trail follows a beautiful stretch of the Virgin River and is simply a lovely place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. You’ll be surrounded by wildflowers and the occasional mule deer that might be grazing or relaxing by the water. The path is paved all the way and is accessible to wheelchair users.

8. The subway

The Metro Track in Zion National Park
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Distance: 9.5 miles
  • Duration: 7-9 hours
  • Height: 1,000 ft descent / 400 ft ascent
  • Hike type: Tour
  • Wheelchair accessible: None
  • Trailhead: Left fork
  • Permission required: Yes

Did you know that Zion has its very own subway? But you won’t be able to jump on a train here. Instead, you’ll climb, abseil and occasionally take a cold swim through natural pools and water passages. This is one of Zion’s most amazing slot canyons and you will see waterfalls, cascades and unique petroglyphs. For those not experienced (or prepared) for a full day of canyoneering, you also have the option of taking the less strenuous bottom-up hike.

Tips for hiking in Zion National Park

It’s important to be a responsible traveler when hiking in Zion (or anywhere else for that matter). Always:

  • Leave as early as possible
  • Give yourself plenty of time to return and set a no-negotiation time to return
  • Tell someone about your plans and when you expect to return
  • Bring plenty of water and high energy snacks
  • Wear a pair of sturdy walking boots/shoes and bring warm and cold layers
  • Leave no trace

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking in Zion, and one trip will only leave you hungry for more. However, it’s not just about hiking. There are plenty of others fun things to do including cycling, climbing, river tubing, canyoneering and more.

EXPLORE THESE HIKING TRAILS FOR YOURSELF ON A TRIP IN ZION NATIONAL PARK.

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