Zion National Park hikes are some of the best in the entire world. It’s no surprise that this national park is the most visited in all of Utah since visitors cannot wait to explore all the magnificent hiking trails that Zion National Park has to offer.
With so many day hikes in Zion National Park to choose from, park guests can enjoy a multitude of one-of-a-kind experiences like sloshing through the Virgin River in the Narrows or braving exposed cliffs on Angel’s Landing. But every Zion National Park hiking trail offers amazing views of the red rock landscape that the park is known for.
However, before visiting Zion National Park, you should Be Prepared and Plan Ahead!
Megan from Red Around the World has written this extensive Zion national Park hiking guide so you’ll be able to enjoy a successful hiking trip:
From spring to fall (and during the Christmas holiday) most Zion Canyon hikes are accessible only by the park shuttle. Plan ahead to know the shuttle schedule and the shuttle stop near the trailhead.
Be sure to arrive early to find parking, especially during peak summer season!
Check current conditions for any trail closures that may be in effect. Zion national Park trails can close due to storm damage, falling rocks, or any other unsafe condition.
Hiking the trails of Zion National Park is amazing, but the area can be harsh and unforgiving.
Springtime weather and temperatures are a perfect time to do some of the best hikes in Zion. But water levels in the canyons may be high which will close some of the hiking trails.
Summer is hot with temperatures over 100 degrees most of the time. It’s best to hike early morning or late evening.
Winters in Zion National Park are cold and often wet. Temperatures can range from highs of 50-60°F during the day to lows well below freezing at night. When it snows, the roads may be plowed, but trails may close due to snow and ice.
Fall is the best time for Zion National Park hiking. There aren’t many storms, the temperatures aren’t extreme and water levels are low. These conditions make some of the best hikes in Zion safer and more enjoyable. And the fall colors in Zion Canyon are amazing to see in late October.
Flash floods can be DEADLY! Therefore, learn all you can about flash floods before you explore any of the Zion National park hiking trails.
The #ZionPledge asks visitors to protect yourself and the park by:
Do your part to enjoy nature responsibly when enjoying any of the Zion National Park hiking trails.
Zion National Park has easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes. Many of the hikes are found in Zion Canyon, but it’s the most crowded part of the park. There are many hiking trails outside Zion Canyon where you can find a bit more solitude.
Easy Zion National Park trails range from 0.4 miles to 3.5 miles and gain no more than 100 feet in elevation. A few are wheelchair accessible with assistance. Since these are shorter hikes, they are the best options for those with a limited amount of time who want to see the amazing landscape of Zion.
The Pa’rus Trail is one of the best places to watch the red rock glow at sunset. Deer frequent the area as the path follows the Virgin River.
This is the only trail in Zion National Park that allows both pets (on a leash up to 6 feet) and bicycles.
This Zion National Park trail is officially listed as two: Lower Emerald Pools and Upper Emerald Pools, but it can easily be done as one leaving from Zion Lodge. This is a nice hike and a good way to fill a couple extra hours. It’s a pretty laid back trail and only has 269 feet of elevation gain between the two trails.
It’s a sandy trail leading to a few small pools of water that are, you guessed it, emerald in color. The upper pool is the coolest, and biggest, so definitely go to that one if you only have time for one.
Weeping Rock is a short but steep paved trail with minor drop-offs. It takes you to a rock alcove with dripping springs. There’s a terrific view of Temple of Sinawava.
During the rainy season, water cascades down the rock over the alcove which is a cool thing to see and photograph!
The Riverside Walk is a paved Zion National Park trail that follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon. It’s a wonderful place to photograph the river and small waterfalls along the trail.
At the end of this trail, the bottom up Narrows trail begins. The Riverside Walk trail is one of the best hikes in Zion national Park. Therefore, it gets crowded so it’s best to do this in the morning or later in the day.
The moderate Zion National Park hiking trails range from 1 mile to 7.6 miles and have larger elevation gains. Many of these trails offer magnificent views of Zion Canyon.
This list of moderate hikes requires extra planning to wear proper footwear, carry enough water, and understand the physical abilities necessary to successfully complete the hike.
The Watchman trails has moderate drop-offs and ends where you can see the Towers of the Virgin, lower Zion Canyon, Watchman Peak, and Springdale. Read this trail guide from The Modern Hiker for more details about this hike.
The Kayenta Trail is an unpaved hike from the Grotto to the Emerald Pools with moderate drop-offs. The Modern Hiker has a good trail guide for this hike. Be sure to take photos of the Zion Canyon as you hike along this trail.
Canyon Overlook has moved it’s way into my favorite hikes in Zion. It’s short, a little challenging, has a great view at the end, and you might see bighorn sheep.
On the east side of the tunnel, right before the tunnel entrance, is the trailhead and parking for Canyon Overlook. There is a bit of a climb of elevation (163 feet total), but it’s nothing crazy and doesn’t last long. You’ll be making your way up into the canyon and eventually come to a little bridge leading to “the cave” before making the push to the final overlook.
On the left on the way up is a canyon and you might be able to see some bighorn sheep there. The trail is pretty straightforward with very minimal rock scrambling. At the end, you have a fabulous view overlooking Echo Canyon, where you just (most likely) drove up from.
You can also see the window holes from the tunnel off to the left. At the end, you may be able to see some bighorn sheep way up the rock on the right. Just keep an eye out for their little white butts.
To enter or exit the parking area just east of the tunnel, you must turn right. Parking is extremely limited, so do this early morning or be prepared to circle around many times to grab a spot. The best time to hike the Canyon Overlook trail is before sunrise so you avoid the crowds and can take amazing photos of the sun lighting the distant mountain peaks!
The strenuous Zion National Park trails range from 2.5 miles to 9.4 miles and have elevation gains of up to 2,148 ft. These trails are physically challenging, and some can be even be mentally challenging as you must walk along steep cliffs holding onto chains for safety.
Strenuous trails require preparation and planning. During the summer you battle extreme heat, thunderstorms, and rain which can bring flash floods. Always check the current weather conditions and plan accordingly. Your safety is your responsibility.
If there’s one hike everyone knows about in Zion, it’s Angels Landing. One of the best hikes in Zion National Park starts off at The Grotto and follows the Virgin River before climbing the side of the cliff via 21 switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles.
At the top of the switchbacks, you’ll end up at Scout’s Landing, which can be a good stopping point if you have a strong fear of heights. From there to the top, you follow a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs on either side. There is a chain to hold onto on the way up.
There isn’t much room on the final part of this trail, so if you’re very nervous, have terrible balance, or just hate heights, you may want to reconsider the push to the top. The views are still pretty stellar from Scout’s Landing.
The Hidden Canyon trail is one of my new favorite hikes at Zion. It starts at Weeping Rock, along with Observation Point. You climb the same steep switchbacks before making your way around the outside of the cliff and into the canyon itself. If you’re looking for crazy views, skip this one as it’s more of a cozy canyon that you end up in.
There are some exposed cliffs on one side as you make your way around the cliff, but there are chains most of the way around. The trail can get a little slippery with loose sand on the rock, so be careful of that. Once you get around the cliff, the maintained trail ends, but you can continue a little more.
You have to do a little scrambling over rocks and boulders. None of it is terribly difficult, but remember, it can be harder to get back down, so if you don’t feel comfortable climbing up, don’t force yourself to.
After the first boulder scramble, the canyon almost has the feel of a slot canyon, but is more open. There are some open sandy areas and other areas covered in moss.
About halfway through this Zion National Park trail, there is an arch off to the right marked with a few little cairns. The trail ends shortly after that and you just have to turn back around. It’s one of my favorite Zion trails and has totally different vibes than most hikes in Zion.
The view at the end of the Observation Point trail rivals the view at Angel’s Landing. It actually overlooks Angel’s Landing.
This Zion National Park trail starts at the Weeping Rock stop and takes you up some steep switchbacks. The entire trail can be quite tough, but it is paved. If you don’t like heights, but don’t mind a longer hike, this is a good alternative to Angel’s Landing because it doesn’t have the same exposed cliffs.
The last mile on the rim of the canyon is mostly flat, offering relief from the steep climb up. The hike back down is the same way you came from. It can be tough on knees, so take your time getting back down. I would definitely do this one if you have a full day, are in relatively good shape, and like stellar views.
The Narrows is the other trail everyone knows when you mention Zion National Park hikes. This trail starts at the end of the Riverside Walk and takes you into the Virgin River with canyon walls towering above you on both sides. This trail gets pretty packed during the day in the summer, so I would recommend going early in the morning or going in mid-day and heading out in the evening when it empties out.
Most people don’t go the entire 9.4 miles, but only hike in a couple of miles before turning around. This is a one-of-a-kind hike that you should definitely do, at least part of if you have a chance.
Important information you should know before you hike The Narrows trail.
The Subway is another top Zion hike, but can only be done if you land one of the few permits available. There is a lottery in advance as well as a last minute lottery so this one can take some planning to do. Located on Kolob Terrace Road, you can either hike this bottom-up or top-down. The top-down route requires ropes and rappelling experience, while bottom-up does not, but it is very difficult.
Either way, you’ll need extensive route finding skills. You’ll also need to cross creeks, swim through cold, debris-filled pools, and scramble over boulders. This is another one of a kind hike and can be compared to the Narrows, but more intense. The highlight is a tunnel-like area reminiscent of a subway tunnel, giving the tits it’s name. You will also need two cars or a shuttle for this since the beginning and end of the trail are far apart.
Important information you should know before you hike The Subway trail.
The Taylor Creek trail is accessed in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion. It takes about 45 minutes to drive here from the main canyon section of Zion.
This hike is the only one outside Zion Canyon that doesn’t require a permit. The Zion Wilderness in Kolob Canyons is a totally different experience and landscape from the rest of the park. This is easily one of my favorite hikes in the park now.
The trailhead is on the left, not too far from the entrance. It’s a nice, leisurely hike walking along and crossing over Taylor Creek. It starts out pretty open and eventually, leads you into the canyon.
There are two little cabins along the trail that could make good stopping points if you didn’t have time for the whole trail. The maintained trail ends at the Double Arch Alcove which is the highlight of this Zion hike.
*Large groups result in larger impacts. All groups traveling in the Zion Wilderness must follow the group size limit for that area. Group size limits are strictly enforced. Permits will be denied and violators will be cited if limits are exceeded.
During the summer, the weather at Zion is hot with low humidity, and the sun is intense. Eat plenty of food and drink at least one gallon of water each day.
Carry and drink water during all outside activities, especially when hiking.
Avoid hiking in the middle of the day. Save strenuous activity for early mornings or evenings.
Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park, but reusable bottles are available for purchase in the gift shops located in the Visitor Center, Museum, and Zion Lodge. Water refilling stations are located throughout the main canyon in the following areas:
Reusable bottles and a water station are also available at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center.
When hiking it Zion, wear sturdy shoes with enough tread to give you good traction. Do not hike in smooth-soled shoes or boots. Some trails cover uneven terrain and follow rock ledges.
Be aware of all potential hazards you could experience at Zion National Park.
Don’t forget to pack your National Park Pass – read why we think it’s a good deal!