Hiking Overview: Zion National Park

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Angel's Landing, Zion National Park
Angel's Landing, Zion National Park (Nathan Borchelt)

Zion National Park Hiking and Backpacking Travel Tips

  • Riverside Walk continues from the end of the scenic drive up between the ever-narrowing walls of Zion Canyon and passes hanging gardens, pools, and small rapids. The one-mile paved walk to the trail’s end is easy and nearly level.
  • Getting to Observation Point is exciting as you work your way up the walls of Zion Canyon to a plateau and a splendid panorama. It’s 2,148 feet up, reached in eight miles round-trip. Weeping Rock Trail in Zion Canyon climbs just 100 feet in a half-mile round-trip to a long series of cliffside springs.
  • West Rim Trail starts from Lava Point Trailhead off the Kolob Terrace Road and winds southeast to Zion Canyon in 13.3 miles one way, dropping 3,000 feet in the last six miles. For thrills, head two miles up West Rim Trail and detour a half-mile out to Angels Landing for a spectacular view 1,500 feet above Zion Canyon.
  • The immense Kolob Arch, one of the world’s largest, attracts hikers in the Kolob Canyons area. You can hike in from Lee Pass Trailhead, 14 miles round-trip, in a long day or a leisurely backpack.
  • La Verkin Creek, Hop Valley, Wildcat Canyon, and West Rim trails connect for many backpacking possibilities between the Kolob Canyons area and Zion Canyon.

The names of the trails in Zion—Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, Gateway to the Narrows Canyon Overlook—hint at some of what you can find beyond the road. There are surprises, too—a desert swamp, a petrified forest, springs and waterfalls, and the always unpredictable appearance of wildlife. You may be overwhelmed by the size and scale of the park as it surrounds you or fascinated by the tiny details of a rock pattern or cactus bloom.

Prior to taking a hike in the park, consult with park rangers on current conditions. Naturalists take guided trips along some of Zion's trails from late March to November. They also lead off-trail hikes through canyons, up the Virgin River and over slickrock country.

There are trails in Zion for those who want an easy ten-minute walk, a two-day backpacking trip, or something in between. When choosing a hike consider not only your time and interests but also your physical fitness and fear of heights. Easy trails are short and mostly level. Moderate and strenuous trails require hiking long distances, mostly uphill.

The Zion Narrows is the most challenging hike in the park: a 12.5-mile excursion through the narrow canyon, sometimes as narrow as 20 feet, with vertical walls 2,000 feet high. The river meanders through a water-sculptured gorge of sandstone arches, grottos, and soaring fluted walls. The river is the trail, meaning you will be doing a lot of wading, and better be prepared to swim. It's a day's adventure if there ever was one.

But whichever trail you pick at Zion, you're in for a treat. This is one national park where there is not a single uninspired trail. Numbered trail and area descriptions are keyed on our Zion National Park Map.


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