Utah is one of the most popular states for outdoor enthusiasts, and the best hikes in Zion National Park are nothing short of remarkable. With a range of difficulties, there’s something for everyone in this park, with hikes that are long, short and everywhere in between. Soak in the scenery, traverse canyons and enjoy some of the best hikes in Zion.
If you aren’t quite sure where to start, here are our picks for 15 best hikes in Zion National Park to narrow down the pool for you.
- 1 15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park
- 2 Planning Your Trip to Zion National Park
15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park
Here’s our run down of the 15 best hikes in Zion National Park for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.
East Mesa Trail
Distance: 6.6 miles round trip
Trailhead Location: Fir Road
This hike to famous Observation Point is about 3 miles one way, and is a pretty flat walk with some uphill portions. Starting at a remote corner of Zion National Park, this rewarding trail off the beaten path will take you past some of the most beautiful views of the east plateau.
Once it hits the popular Observation Trail, follow it until you reach the point of view for breathtaking cliff and canyon vistas. On the way down, you can take the Weeping Rock Trail and wind up at the shuttle, making this an awesome double whammy.
East Rim Trail
Distance: 10.8 miles one way
Trailhead Location: East Entrance
One of the more difficult hikes at Zion National Park but also one of the best and most rewarding, this hike has its share of steep inclines but will take you on a journey unlike any other.
An 11 mile trek one way, the East Rim Trail will take you all day but offers incredible views that make it totally worth the distance. This is certainly one of the more challenging hikes in Zion, but you’ll be treated to vistas of the Navajo Sandstone mountains, before descending into Echo Canyon and climbing back up to Weeping Rock.
Distance: 10 – 16 miles
Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
Trailhead Location: Temple of Sinawava / Chamberlain’s Ranch
Soak in one of the best hikes in Zion by trekking downstream along the Virgin River. You’ll wind up in the most narrow portion of the Zion Canyon and wade through plenty of water on your way.
You can experience the Narrows with a bottom up hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Spring, which is a challenging ten miles round trip. Or opt for the grand top down hike from Chamberlin’s Ranch, which requires permits and transportation, but is a whopping 16 miles downstream.
Definitely plan a full day for this hike, or stretch it out over two and stay at the campground halfway through the walk.
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West Rim Trail
Distance: 17 miles one way
Trailhead Location: Near Lava Point
Something like a “big brother” to the East Rim Trail, this tough trek is 17 miles one way (from Lava Point to The Grotto) but offers even more stunning views and incredible canyons that are well worth the effort. Though the hike is long, it’s mostly downhill, which means the walking is rather pleasant.
It descends into Zion Canyon and passes by Angels Landing Trail, which is a worthy detour if you have the heart for a few extra adrenaline-filled miles. You can also do this hike over two days, but make sure to secure a wilderness permit if you plan on camping.
Definitely don’t go out unprepared for this hike, with supplies like water and food, as well as some sturdy hiking boots to handle some steep terrain. But it’s worth every minute of your time!
Distance: 5 miles round trip
Trailhead Location: The Grotto
Hiking Angels Landing will definitely get your heart pumping! It’s a steep ascent up a seemingly impossible path with terrifying drop-offs on either side. But don’t worry, there are chains and cables along the way that you can hang onto as you go.
It’s just under five and a half miles round trip and rewards you with the opportunity to take in some amazing views from one of the best hikes in Zion! It stars on the West Rim Trail and traverses famous spots like Walter’s Wiggles and Scout Lookout.
With such variety, this is one trek where you’ll have your fill of excitement, but it is extremely strenuous, so you should have good physical fitness and be okay with heights.
Also, since it’s the most popular hike in Zion, arrive as early as possible to secure parking and a crowd-free trail.
Distance: 0.6 miles one way
Trailhead Location: Grotto Picnic Area
If you’re looking for something a little lighter than Angels Landing, the Grotto Trail is a good compromise.
It’s a super easy, one mile round trip walk that travels down the Fall of the Valley Road. When you hit the Grotto Picnic Area, you’ll be right at the foot of the Angels Landing trailhead, so be sure to cross the river to get a good look of it (and an awesome photo op), even if you don’t plan on climbing the thing
Weeping Rock Trail
Distance: 0.4 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Trailhead Location: Weeping Rock / Shuttle Stop #7
This one is perfect for anyone who wants to experience the magic of Zion with as little walking as possible. Less than half a mile round trip, this trail takes you to the famous Weeping Rock viewpoint under hanging gardens and lush Zion greenery.
It is a steady uphill climb, generally with plenty of crowds, but the track is paved making it quite the easy and quick walk to this grand landmark.
Distance: 3 miles round trip
Trailhead Location: Near Zion Canyon Visitor Center
Looking for the best place to watch sunrise in Zion? Watchman Trail will definitely do the trick.
It’s a relatively easy hike that has you at the summit in under an hour. But, because it is a popular sunrise trail, be sure to get there early (6:30 AM) and don’t forget your headlamp, as it will be pretty dark on the way up.
If you’re not much of an early riser, this is also a pretty decent sunset spot.
Hidden Canyon Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
Starting off with an adventurous uphill hike, the Hidden Canyon trail takes you through a series of intense switchbacks before walking along a cliff edge and scrambling up some stones.
There are chains to hold on to along the way as the hike can be a bit treacherous, but it’s completely worth it for the astounding scenery on the track.
You can even tack on a hike to Observation Point when you’re headed to Hidden Canyon Trail. At one point, the trail splits and if you go left, you’ll end up on your way to another of Zion’s great sights.
Distance: 1.7 miles one way
Trailhead Location: South Campground
For the perfect starter hike or end of the day gander, this quick and easy trail is a sure bet. It’s very close to the South entrance, so it’s one of the more accessible hikes, and it’s so short that it can easily be accomplished in an hour or two.
It’s also the only trail that you’re able to hit with bikes or your pet… It’s wheelchair friendly, too.
You’ll cross bridges, walk along the river and have the chance to spot wildlife, along with soaking in some incredible Zion sights.
Emerald Pools Trails
Distance: 1.2, 2, & 3 miles round trip, respectively
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Trailhead Location: Across the highway from Zion Lodge
Technically a collection of the best hikes in Zion, the Emerald Pools allow you to get up close and personal with the water flowing through Zion.
You’ll be able to hike to the Lower and Middle pools, which are both beautiful in their own right. The Upper pool can be accessed from the middle pool track, if you feel like conquering all three. It’s certainly a more challenging hike than the other two, but the rushing water is nothing short of dramatic, the higher you get!
Overall, these trails are quite easy and offer another side of Zion with lush greenery, waterfalls and wildlife sightings.
Distance: 1 mile round trip
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Trailhead Location: Highway 9 near tunnel ranger station
A moderate trek, Canyon Overlook is one of the most popular and best hikes in Zion. The viewpoint that you’ll see at the end of this trail is said to be the best overlook for deep narrows anywhere, and perfectly encapsulates Zion’s iconic scenery.
Distance: 14 miles round trip
Trailhead Location: Lees Pass / Hop Valley
With a seven mile trek each way, getting to the world’s second longest arch is no easy feat, but it’s well worth it once you see the incredible, natural formation.
To reach this wonder, you’ll have to take the gorgeous La Verkin Creek Trail, which crosses streams, tramps through back country and finally delivers you to the arch. Pack water shoes!
Alternatively, you can start at the Hop Valley Trailhead, which will eventually link up with La Verkin. Both routes are seven miles, one day.
This makes for an outstanding day hike as it’s challenging enough to keep you entertained, with a grand reward at the end. There are a couple of campsites on the way too, so if you want to make it an overnighter, be sure to get permits beforehand.
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Distance: 9.5 miles
Difficulty: Hard / Technical
Trailhead Location: Wildcat Trailhead on Kolob Reservoir Road
If you’re looking for a more technical and challenging hike, The Subway definitely fits the bill.
This is a bottom-up hike and takes you through an enchanting gorge that resembles… you guessed it, a subway tunnel. Aside from walking, you’ll be wading, swimming, scrambling, and climbing on this intense trek, creating an adrenaline filled day hike.
Though rappelling isn’t required, ropes are recommended and you do need permits for it (get them at any Visitor Center). Be sure to bring along waterproof shoes!
The Trans-Zion Trek
Distance: 48.3 miles
Trailhead Location: East or West Entrance Trailheads
The Trans-Zion Trek is a great way to see as much of the park as possible, and it takes you through all the highlights. With a large mixture of different trails along this 3 to 6 day trip, you’ll have the chance to hit some of the best hikes in Zion back to back.
There’s plenty to explore, but be sure to secure the correct permits and select your campsites before starting out on this epic, nearly fifty mile trek.
Planning Your Trip to Zion National Park
When it comes to hitting some of the best hikes in Zion, you’ll want to have a solid plan in place. Here are some things to consider when it comes to planning your trip to Zion National Park.
When Are You Visiting?
The time of year you visit Zion greatly impacts the trails and overall usability of the park. That being said, there are still hikes you can do all year round.
Summer is lovely in Zion, though the Southern Utah heat is absolutely scorching around mid-day. If you plan on visiting Zion during these hot months, it’s best to start hiking as early in the day as possible.
Fall in Zion is arguably the best time to visit as the weather is mild and most of the tracks are in top condition. The same goes for early spring months.
However, be aware that spring also can bring flooding, making some walks that cross rivers or wade through gorges dangerous and virtually impossible.
Finally, we have winter which is serene in Zion. Snow sprinkles the striking landscape and the crowds are noticeably thinner. Just watch out for ice on hikes that don’t get much sun… There will be plenty of it.
No matter the season, it’s important to regularly check the National Park Service website for trail conditions and any temporary closures. Do this in advance so you don’t have any nasty surprises when you arrive at Zion!
Where to Stay Near Zion National Park
The Zion backcountry is swimming with campsites, which is one of the best ways to experience the park. Since most of the crowds are day trippers, at night you’ll have bits of the park to yourself, and the best star gazing you could ever imagine.
To camp in Zion, you’ll need a Wilderness Permit, which you can acquire through the National Park Service website, and you’ll need to book your campsite in advance with the reservation system.
If you’d rather have the comforts of home while visiting Zion National Park, there are plenty of amazing Airbnbs around that will give you access to a kitchen, cozy bed, and other amenities that will make your trip that much more special.
Here are some of our top picks to get you started. Or check out our complete guide to the best Airbnbs in St. George, Utah!
- The Ark Tiny House
- Rusty Guesthouse Near Zion National Park
- Extraordinary Home Near Zion w/ Pool & Hot Tub
You can also use the map below to explore more amazing stays in the area.
Getting Around Zion
Though Zion has a pretty incredible network of shuttles within the park, you’ll still need transportation. Utah is huge and it’s pretty much impossible to get around without a car.
If you’re coming from out of state without diving, renting a car is your best bet as it will give you the freedom to explore the park at your leisure and allow you to get back and forth as much as you like.
Click here to check out rental car options… You’ll be surprised at how affordable it is!
Other Things to Do Around Zion National Park
When (or if) you get tired of hiking, there are plenty of things to do around Zion National Park. Check out these local Airbnb experiences to see what kinds of options are out there!
- Horseback Riding in East Zion – Give your feet a rest and let a horse do the walking on this horseback riding tour of an 8,000 acre ranch bordering Zion.
- Zion Alpacas and Friends – Get up close and personal with some of Zion’s most fun locals: alpacas! The farm also has mini highland cows, mini donkeys, mini pigs and pygmy goats… Is this heaven on earth or what?!
- Paddle & Hike to Ancient Petroglyphs – Enjoy a guided paddle through Quail Creek State Park, where your local host will take you across the lake to ancient native rock art, limestone shale, and even the possibility of quicksand!
Need some gear for your Zion adventure? Check out these articles:
- Best Women’s Hiking Boots 2021: The Ultimate List
- Best Men’s Hiking Boots 2021: Boots for Any Outdoor Adventure
- Definitive Guide: 15 Best Hiking Sandals of 2021
- Ultimate Guide to the Best Hiking Pants for Any Season
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