hiker overlooking sandstone canyon and greenery at Zion

The Best Hikes in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is a hiker's paradise. But with over 90 miles of trails, where do you begin? To help you narrow down the list, check out the best hikes at Zion based on your preferences and skill level.

With over 90 miles of trails and 300 days of sunshine annually, Zion National Park is a hiker's paradise. Approximately five million people visit the park each year, drawn by its sandstone canyons, cascading waterfalls, and epic vistas.

But with so much to explore, where do you even begin? There are many popular hikes at Zion, but plenty of lesser-known trails offer a singular experience. It all depends on what kind of adventure you're seeking, your skill level, and whether you’ve secured a wilderness permit to explore the park’s more off-the-beaten-path attractions.

So, to help you narrow down the best hikes in Zion for your preferences and skill level, here are a few recommendations based on popular choices among visitors and expert hikers.

The Narrows

best hikes in zion narrow canyon river

The Narrows is one of the most famous hikes at Zion National Park. Aptly named, it is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, with towering walls on either side. The trail is the Virgin River itself, meaning you must wade through the water for most of the hike. The river is only 20 to 30 feet wide in some areas due to the tapering canyon walls. When preparing for this hike, you should definitely wear close-toed shoes and consider bringing a hiking stick. These items will help you navigate the slick and uneven rocks in The Narrows. The high canyon walls and water create cooler conditions than anywhere else in Zion Canyon, so consider wearing synthetic layers appropriate for the season. The pebble-strewn river may be challenging to navigate, but families with children can still enjoy the hike by sticking to the first section of the trail, where the water is shallower and the canyon walls are less steep.

Angels Landing

best zion hikes towering red canyon steps and chain rope

Angels Landing is a popular 5.4-mile hike at Zion National Park known for its steep ascent, narrow ridges, and breathtaking views. It features a series of challenging switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles that lead to Scout Lookout. Starting from Grotto Trailhead, this intense hike is not for the faint-hearted. The trail follows a razor-thin ridge as you ascend 1,500 feet, with steep drop-offs on both sides. However, once you reach Scout Lookout, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views of Zion Canyon. The round-trip hike takes about four hours to complete at a leisurely pace. We recommend preparing for it a few weeks or months in advance by using the stairmaster at the gym or taking the stairs regularly. Remember to wear proper hiking shoes, bring enough water, and prepare for changing weather conditions with layers.

Observation Point

best hikes in zion sweeping canyon vista observation point

Observation Point is an 8-mile round-trip hike in Zion National Park. The trailhead is at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop, leading you up a series of switchbacks. This challenging hike is perfect for experienced hikers looking for a rewarding adventure. It offers breathtaking views of the park from over 6,500 feet. These views are broader and more expansive than Angels Landing. The trail is open year-round but can be challenging during summer, so it's best to start early in the morning or consider visiting between April and October for favorable weather. Dogs aren't allowed on this hike, and visitors are advised to carry plenty of water and wear proper hiking gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Lower Emerald Pools

The Lower Emerald Pools trail is a popular and easy hiking trail in Zion suitable for young children, strollers, and people with disabilities (as long as they're assisted). It stretches for 1.2 miles round-trip and follows the canyon bottom to the Lower Emerald Pool, located at the base of a cliff. Two small streams spread across the cliff face and trickle into the pools. The paved trail is well-maintained and leads behind the falling water, adding excitement to this family-friendly hike at Zion. While it might be tempting to go into the water, note that swimming is not permitted. You can access the trailhead from the Zion Lodge shuttle stop, where there are restrooms and water-filling stations. 

The Watchman

best hikes in zion red rock vista with green trees

The Watchman is one of the most popular easy hikes at Zion, perfect for beginners and families with children. This hike is a 3.3-mile roundtrip, with an elevation gain of only 368 feet. On average, it takes about two hours to complete, with ample time to take in the beautiful surroundings. The hike's unique feature is the breathtaking view of the Watchman rock formation, which towers over the valley below. This hike also offers panoramic views of the mountains and canyons, making it an excellent spot for photos. The trailhead for The Watchman hike is near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, making it easily accessible for those staying in the area. The trail is well-marked, well-maintained, and climbs 368 feet to the overlook.

The Subway

best zion hikes subway tunnel canyon with emerald waters

This hike is a bit more challenging and requires a wilderness permit, but it is one of the most unique hikes in Zion National Park. The trail takes you through a slot canyon that looks like a subway, with tube-like walls resembling tall waves. The subway hike at Zion also boasts stunning waterfalls and pools, adding to the singular experience. The trail is around nine miles long, and it can take anywhere between 5-10 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how often you stop to take in the breathtaking scenery. If you're dead set on hiking The Subway at Zion, be sure to plan ahead and secure your permit early, as they tend to sell out quickly. Additionally, it's best to hike this trail during the drier months, as flash floods can occur during the rainy season, typically from July to October.

Zion Canyon Overlook

No list of the best hikes in Zion National Park is complete without mentioning the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail. This trail is situated east of the famous Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which cuts through the park's towering cliffs and provides a direct route to the Grand Canyon. Although the trail is just one mile long, it offers some of the most awe-inspiring views in the park, including Bridge Mountain, the West Temple, the Towers of the Virgin, and the Streaked Wall. The trail is easily accessible and relatively flat, making it a popular spot among hikers. Don't let the crowds keep you from enjoying this path that leads above the Great Arch. It's definitely worth the moderate hike, and we highly recommend adding it to your Zion National Park Itinerary.

Taylor Creek

best zion hikes red canyon cave walls streaked in black

Last on our list of the best hikes in Zion is Taylor Creek Trail. Following its middle fork, this moderately strenuous hike spans five miles roundtrip. It's one of the few official trails in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion, taking you up one of the Kolob "finger" canyons and passing by two historic cabins from the early 1900s. The trail ascends the narrowing canyon and includes several stream crossings to reach the famous Double Arch Alcove. This cave-like alcove is a spectacular natural wonder, with streaked Navajo sandstone eroded over time into a unique double arch formation. The hike to Double Arch Alcove is a must-do for any serious hiker visiting Zion National Park. It's off the beaten path, enabling visitors to take in Zion's natural beauty away from the crowds and noise of the more popular trails.

Preparing for the Best Hikes at Zion National Park

Overall, Zion National Park offers various hiking options for visitors of all skill levels. You can choose a challenging adventure for yourself or a family-friendly hike with your loved ones. Before you start any hike, make sure you prepare properly. This includes wearing the right hiking gear, carrying enough water and snacks, and checking the weather. It's best to start early in the morning to avoid crowds and follow the park's rules and regulations. By preparing correctly, you can have an unforgettable hiking experience in Zion National Park.

Happy trails! 🥾🏞️⛰️☀️✨

Are you looking for more travel and lifestyle content? Or how about some rad travel gear? Browse our online store for toiletry bags, travel blankets, and more, and check out the rest of the Gravel Travels blog.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.