Julie United States 75 Comments

Zion National Park is one of the best spots in the United States to go hiking. From the awe-inspiring hike up Angels Landing to the family friendly Riverside Walk to multi-day backpacking adventures, there is something here for everyone. Here are 10 of the best hikes in Zion National Park. This is not an all-inclusive list, but there is definitely enough here to keep you busy for days.

Over the past few years, we have visited Zion National Park multiple times. This park just keeps calling us back. This relatively small park is literally packed with some of the most thrilling hikes in the United States, if not the entire world. 

Get ready to be inspired…and have fun picking out which ones you would like to do!

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Best Hikes in Zion

This list starts with the shorter and easier hikes and continues on with the longer and more challenging efforts. All hiking distances are round trip.  

1. Weeping Rock

Distance: 0.4 miles/0.6 km
Length of Time: 0.5 hours
Difficulty: It’s a steep, uphill walk to Weeping Rock
Zion Shuttle Stop: Weeping Rock, stop #7

Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock | Best Hikes in Zion

The trail to Weeping Rock is one of the shortest hikes in the park and because of this, it can be crowded. The trail ends at Weeping Rock, a large overhang of rock that is dripping with water.

From the shuttle shop, you will walk uphill to Weeping Rock along a mostly paved path.  It’s a strenuous uphill walk but since it is short, it is manageable for most people. 

2. Canyon Overlook Trail

Distance: 1 mile
Length of Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Trailhead: Highway 9, just east of the Mount Carmel Tunnel

Canyon Overlook | Best Zion Hikes

Canyon Overlook | Best Hikes in Zion

The Canyon Overlook Trail is a gem of a hike in Zion National Park. It’s short, it’s fun, and it takes you to an awesome viewpoint overlooking Zion Canyon. This is a hike that is perfect for all ages and ability levels. So if this is your first, or even your second time in Zion, put the Canyon Overlook Trail on your list of things to do.

3. Emerald Pool Trail

Distance: 1.5 to 3 miles, depending on how far you hike
Length of time: 2 to 4 hours
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Zion Shuttle Stop: Zion Lodge, stop #5 or The Grotto, stop #6

The trail to the Emerald Pools is one of the most popular hikes in Zion. This is a trail that starts off easy and gets more strenuous the farther you go. From Zion Lodge, it’s an easy walk to Lower Emerald Pools. Beyond this, the trail starts climbing, but the scenery gets better. The final climb to Upper Emerald Pool is more challenging but it leads you to a large pool surrounded on three sides by tall cliffs.

Emerald Pool

Emerald Pools | Best Hikes in Zion

The most common way to hike to the Emerald Pools is via the Zion Lodge. You can also get to the pools via the Kayenta Trail from The Grotto.

Tim and I hiked to the Emerald Pools on the Kayenta Trail and maybe our timing was wrong, but we did not enjoy this hike. It was hot, it was crowded, and we were not impressed with Upper Emerald Pool. If you are looking for a short but scenic hike in Zion, we recommend the Canyon Overlook Trail over Emerald Pools.

Utah Travel Guide

4. Riverside Walk

Distance: 2.2 miles round trip
Length of Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Zion Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava, stop #9

Riverside Walk | Best Zion Hikes

Riverside Walk | Best Hikes in Zion


Zion in October | Best Zion Hikes

View from the Riverside Walk in October | Best Hikes in Zion

This flat, paved trail follows the Virgin River and ends where the Narrows begins. This easy hike is perfect for all ages and all ability levels.

5. Hidden Canyon

Distance: 3 miles
Length of Time: 2 to 3 hours
Difficulty: moderate
Zion Shuttle Stop: Weeping Rock, stop #7

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Hidden Canyon trail is currently closed due to damage from a rockfall. Get updates on trail status on the Zion National Park website.

Best Zion Hikes

Hidden Canyon Trail | Best Hikes in Zion


Hidden Canyon

The hike to Hidden Canyon blew away our expectations. This hike is tons of fun, with trails that cling to the side of a cliff and a scenic canyon to explore.

Sections of this hike are similar to Angels Landing, with vertigo-inducing trails that come with chains to help you keep your balance. This trail does not climb as high or have the views like Angels Landing, but Hidden Canyon also gets fewer visitors, which makes for pleasant, less crowded experience.

6. Angels Landing

Distance: 5.4 miles
Length of Time: 3 to 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Zion Shuttle Stop: The Grotto, stop #6

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you plan to hike to Angels Landing, you must have a permit. Learn more in our Guide to Angels Landing.

Angels Landing is the most popular hike in Zion National Park. The final climb of the hike involves scaling a narrow ridge high above the valley floor. With chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, stunning views, and vertigo-inducing heights, this really is a thrilling hike.

Angels Landing Chains | Best Zion Hikes

Chains on Angels Landing | Best Hikes in Zion


Angels Landing

Angels Landing | Best Hikes in Zion

For adventure seekers, this is definitely a great hike to put on your bucket list. We have hiked a lot of places around the world, and this hike is one of our favorites.

7. Observation Point

Distance: 8 miles (via the East Rim Trail)
Length of time: 4 to 6 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Zion Shuttle Stop: Weeping Rock, stop #7

IMPORTANT NOTE: From the Weeping Rock stop on the Zion shuttle route, the East Rim Trail to Observation Point is currently closed due to damage from a rockfall. However, you reach Observation Point from an alternative route on the East Mesa Trail. Get updates on trail status on the Zion National Park website.

Observation Point | Best Zion Hikes

Observation Point | Best Hikes in Zion

For jaw-dropping views over Zion National Park, it’s hard to beat Observation Point. The entire hike is a beauty, but it is challenging. At 8 miles long and with 2300 feet of climbing, it is a steady climb to that final viewpoint. This is a classic Zion trail and well worth your time and effort, especially if you want views out over Angels Landing and the rest of Zion National Park.

Alternative Route: A second option is to hike to Observation Point on the East Mesa Trail. This is much shorter, with a round trip distance of 7 miles. This hike starts on the East Mesa Trailhead which is located outside of Zion National Park.

8. The Narrows

For millions of years, the Virgin River has been carving its way through layers of rock, forming the Zion Narrows. This canyon twists and turns for miles, creating one of the most unique hiking trails in the world. It’s not only one of the best hikes in Zion, it is also one of the best hikes in the US national parks.

Zion Narrows Hike | Best Zion Hikes

Zion Narrows in October | Best Hikes in Zion


Zion Narrows | Best Zion Hikes

Zion Narrows | Best Hikes in Zion

For many hikers, the Narrows is a hike that makes the bucket list. This is the quintessential slot canyon hike. It’s challenging, it’s breathtaking in its beauty, and it makes for a very memorable experience.

There are two ways to hike the Zion Narrows: from the bottom-up or from the top-down. 

The Zion Narrows from the Bottom-Up

This is the most popular way to hike the Narrows. Starting at the Riverside Walk, you hike upriver for several miles and then turn around and hike back the way you came. Along the way, you get to see some of the best scenery in the Narrows, including Wall Street. Wall Street is the iconic section where the canyon gets very narrow and the sheer rock walls close in overhead. It’s an awesome sight to see.

From the bottom-up, the farthest you go is Big Springs. Beyond this point, a permit is necessary. If you hike to Big Springs, your entire journey will be 10 miles round trip.

You also have the option to hike one mile into Orderville Canyon, for a total of 2 miles for this detour.

Distance: up to 12 miles (to Big Springs and the detour through Orderville Canyon); you can turn around whenever you want, so some people only hike 2 to 3 miles round trip
Difficulty: varies depending on the Virgin River flow rate, but overall it is easy to moderate. The most challenging section is Wall Street, where there can be sections of chest deep (or higher) water.
No permit necessary.
Zion Shuttle Stop:
Temple of Sinawava, stop # 9

PRO TRAVEL TIP:  The Narrows is closed during the spring months while the snow is melting, creating high flow rates in the river. A permit is necessary if you want to hike the Narrows top-down.

The Zion Narrows from the Top-Down

This is the ultimate Zion Narrows experience since you hike the entire length of the Narrows. 

Hiking the Narrows from the Top-Down is a 16-mile journey that takes you from Chamberlain’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava. It can be done as an epic day hike or as a two-day backpacking trip. A permit is necessary for both options.

We hiked the Zion Narrows as a day hike and it is one of our favorite hiking experiences of all time. To stand in this narrow canyon, dwarfed by immense height of these walls, was incredible. Our favorite section of the Narrows, where the walls towered over our heads, can only be seen on the top-down route.

Distance: 16 miles
Length of time: several hours to two days (backpacking top down)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Trailhead: Chamberlain’s Ranch (outside of Zion National Park)

9. The Subway

Distance: 10 miles (top down)
Length of time: all day
Difficulty: Strenuous


Photo Credit: Sascha Wenninger

Similar to the Narrows, the Subway is a hike in the Left Fork of North Creek. The classic way to hike the Subway is top-down, but this is a technically challenging hike that requires canyoneering skills and exposure to cold water. However, the Subway can be hiked from the bottom, which eliminates rappelling and the cold swims, but you will miss some of the more beautiful parts of the canyon.

A permit is required to hike the Subway.

10. The West Rim Trail

Distance: 16.2 miles
Length of time: 9 to 12 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous

Zion National Park

View along the West Rim Trail | Best Hikes in Zion


West Rim Trail | Best Zion Hikes

Another view from the West Rim Trail | Best Hikes in Zion

The West Rim Trail is a long distance hike through Zion National Park. With amazing views, very few hikers on the trail, and a chance to walk the length of Zion National Park, this hike rewards your efforts. The West Rim Trail can be hiked as a long day hike or as a two day backpacking trip.

Bonus: The Watchman Trail

Distance: 3.3 miles
Length of Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy to moderate

The Watchman Trail is a relatively easy hike that offers nice views over Springdale and the southern end of Zion National Park. This is one of the least exciting and least scenic trails in Zion National Park. In my opinion, it’s only worth hiking if you are looking for a short, easy trail, like the convenience of starting right from the visitor center, or do not want to ride the shuttle.

Hike the Watchman Trail | Best Zion Hikes

Watchman Trail | Best Hikes in Zion


View from the Watchman Hike

Best Hikes in Zion: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Pick Your Perfect Zion Hike

Best Zion Hikes For Families

  • Riverside Walk
  • Weeping Rock
  • Emerald Pools
  • Canyon Overlook Trail

For the Best Views in Zion

  • Observation Point
  • Angels Landing
  • West Rim Trail
  • Canyon Overlook Trail

Most Adventurous Hikes in Zion

  • The Subway
  • The Narrows
  • Angels Landing
  • Hidden Canyon

Multi-Day Backpacking Trips

  • West Rim Trail
  • The Narrows

Leave the Crowds Behind

  • Hidden Canyon
  • West Rim Trail

Our Favorite Hikes in Zion

  • The Narrows
  • Angels Landing
  • Observation Point
  • Hidden Canyon
  • Canyon Overlook

Still on our Bucket List

  • The Subway

If You Don’t Want to Wait in Line for the Shuttle

  • Watchman Trail
  • Canyon Overlook Trail
  • Pa’rus Trail
  • Observation Point from the East Mesa Trail

Zion Travel Guide

How to Get Around Zion National Park

For most of the year (mid-February through November), the Zion Shuttle is in operation. During this time, private vehicles are not permitted to drive on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

From mid-February through mid-March, the shuttle operates on the weekends and private vehicles are allowed on Zion Canyon Road on the weekdays. The shuttle operates 7 days a week beginning mid-March. For the full schedule and hours of operation, visit the NPS website.

Park at the Visitor Center or take the Springdale Shuttle to the main entrance. You can hop on the shuttle at the Visitor Center and ride the various shuttle stops along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. If you are heading into the park to go hiking, make sure you know the correct shuttle stop for your hike.

You are permitted to drive from the Visitor Center to the east entrance all year.

When the shuttle is not in operation (December, January, and February) you are permitted drive along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Just be aware that parking is limited so it still helps to get an early start. When parking lots fill, Zion Canyon Scenic Drive may temporarily close.

There is a second shuttle system, the Springdale Shuttle, that connects the hotels in Springdale with the main entrance of Zion.

Starting mid-morning, lines to board the Zion Shuttle can be very long. We are talking an hour wait or longer. To have the best experience, plan on being on one of the first two shuttles of the day. During peak season and holiday weekends, plan to get in line at least 30 minutes before the first shuttle. I know that’s early, but if you are planning to hike Angels Landing, you will have a much better experience going early, since you can hike the chain section without two-way traffic (but don’t forget your permit!). It’s worth the early start!  

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Start Early!! For the best experience, plan to be on one of the first shuttles of the day. This is very important if you plan to hike the more popular trails, such as the Zion Narrows from the bottom-up. 

Don’t forget your permit! If you plan to hike Angels Landing, you must have a permit. 

To hike the trails with low crowds, we visit the park twice in one day. In the morning, we get on the first shuttle and hike one of the longer, more strenuous and more popular trails (such as Angels Landing or Observation Point). We take a break midday, have lunch in Springdale, and return to the park in the late afternoon, once the crowds start to lessen. This is a nice time to hike an easier trail and maybe even catch sunset in the park.

The best time to visit Zion National Park is during the spring and fall months. The weather will be warm during the day and cool at night. During the summer months, temperatures can soar and there is the risk of flash floods. Winter is a nice time to visit Zion, if you don’t mind cold temperatures. 

With high crowd levels, trail closures, and high levels of cyanobacteria in the Virgin River, Zion can be a challenging park to visit right now. If you are planning a visit to Zion, make sure you read our article 5 Things to Know Before Visiting Zion to avoid any unfortunate surprises.

ZION NATIONAL PARK: Check out our Zion National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

ZION SHUTTLE: If you are in Zion for a quick visit, or you don’t want to be bothered with the shuttle, here are 10 things to do without riding the Zion shuttle.

NATIONAL PARKS BY SEASON: Zion National Park appears in our Best US National Parks in JanuaryBest US National Parks in October, Best US National Parks in November, and Best US National Parks in December articles. For more information about the best times to visit the national parks, check out our Best National Parks Month-by-Month Guide.


Visit the National Park Service website for more information on hikes in Zion, as well as to check trail status and get important updates.


Where We Stayed

We stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Springdale, one of the best Holiday Inn properties we have seen. It is located along the Springdale Shuttle route, so you can get around town and into Zion National Park without a car. So far, we have been to Zion twice and both times we stayed at this Holiday Inn and had a great experience. This is our go-to hotel in Springdale.

Are you planning a visit to Zion National Park? Which Zion hikes do you want to do? Comment below with any questions about the best Zion hikes or if you want to share your experience!

More Information about Utah and the National Parks

AMERICAN SOUTHWEST ITINERARY: If you have 10 days, learn how to road trip through the American Southwest, visiting several national parks, state parks, and scenic spots in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK: While in Arches National Park, top experiences include the Devils Garden Trail and a visit to Delicate Arch. Get the full list in our Best Things to Do in Arches guide.

BRYCE CANYON: Take a look at our Bryce Canyon National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

BEST OF CAPITOL REEF: Top experiences in Capitol Reef include hiking Cassidy Arch, driving through Cathedral Valley, and hiking one of the many trails in the park. For the full list, read our article Best Things to Do in Capitol Reef.

CANYONLANDS: Check out our Canyonlands National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

UNITED STATES: We have TONS of information about places to visit in the United States in our USA Travel Guide. In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

NATIONAL PARKS: Learn more about the national parks and get a FREE printable checklist in our US National Parks Checklist.


Best Hikes Zion National Park

Best Hikes in Zion National Park
Zion Best Hikes in the Park


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Comments 75

  1. Avatar for Tammy

    We are heading out soon for two nights at the Zion lodge and I’m struggling to find a good hike for us to do. The Narrows might be closed due to high water as we will be there at the end of May. Plus, the fact you have to rent special gear. Then I was thinking of Scouts lookout, but just watched a video and there are some paths with steep drop offs I’m not sure I can do. Emerald pools sounds blah, the Riverside walk also not high on my list. There must be a hike that has good views, easy to moderate without steep drop offs. Please help.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Tammy. I agree with everything you say. Observation Point is a great hike. We did it before the trail closure. It can still be done but you have to start the hike outside of Zion Canyon. In our guide, we give a brief overview of this but there is a lot more updated detailed info about this hike online. There will still be some cliff trails with drop offs, just so you know. Canyon Overlook is nice too but it’s really short and also outside of Zion Canyon. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Celia

    Hi Julie!

    First, I wanted to mention how invaluable your website has been in helping me plan some recent trips to some great national parks. Thank you for making it so much easier for us to actually spend time enjoying our trips instead of wasting time trying to decide what everyone wants to do.

    With that said, I’m trying to plan a trip with my sister to Zion and Bryce at the end of April. We’re flying into Vegas so we’re also thinking of doing some day hikes like Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon. We’ll be flying into Vegas on April 24 and returning home on the 30th, giving us 5 complete days for hiking. My question is, do you think we’ll have time to allot one day of hiking in Death Valley on this trip? If not, are there any other hiking trails near Vegas that you would suggest for us to do?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Celia. With 5 days, it is possible to visit Death Valley, Zion, and the parks around Vegas, but it will be extremely busy. Death Valley can be visited as a long day trip, so you can do it, but it would not give you much time in Zion. With your 5 days: (1) Death Valley Day Trip (2) Vegas and Red Rock Canyon (3) Valley of Fire in the morning, drive to Zion (4) Zion (5) Zion, return to Vegas in the evening. With that itinerary, I wouldn’t add anything else in, so you have 2 full days in Zion to make it worth the drive. Have a great trip! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Tricia

    We have the permit for Angels Landing, but not sure if we will actually do the chains yet. Looks scary, but maybe won’t be so bad. Is the hike still worth it without attempting the chains or should we choose a different hike?
    Best, Tricia

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I still think it’s worth it. The views are nice from Scout Lookout…not as good as from Angels Landing but they’re good. Plus hiking up Walter’s Wiggles is a classic hike in Zion. If you decide not to do the chains, it is worth it to continue on the West Rim Trail deeper into the park. Very few people go this far and it’s beautiful and slightly different from what you see in most of Zion. You can get an idea of what you will see in our guide to the West Rim Trail. Have a great time in Zion! Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Tammy

    We are planning an 8 night trip to see Utah’s mighty 5 at the end of May, 2024 and as of right now, I have 2 nights booked in Zion Lodge. We will be traveling with my two young adult kids. I don’t do heights and don’t want to hike anything more than moderate. For this reason, I’m rethinking my two nights at Zion. We have three nights in Moab, but I’m thinking Arches NP, looks like it has much more to offer us regarding the above reasons. We have 3 nights in Moab for Arches and Canyonlands. Frankly, Weeping rock doesn’t look too great and so the only hike I’m seeing on the Zion page is the Canyon Overlook, which we could easily do with a one night stay in the lodge. What do you think?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I agree with your thinking, if you want to do easier hikes that don’t involve cliff walks. Zion is filled with these and you’re right, Weeping Rock is not all that exciting, and the Narrows will be cold or possibly be closed in May because of high water levels. One night is enough to see Zion Canyon and do Canyon Overlook. Take a look at our Arches Canyonlands Capitol Reef Itinerary, because you could add in one of these days to your trip. Doing Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon is a great day and would be done on the day you drive from Capitol Reef to Moab. Another option is to visit the Needles district of Canyonlands, if you add a night in Moab. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Tammy
      2. Avatar for Tammy

        Hi again,
        Maybe this is obvious, but if we were able to do the Narrows at the end of May, we all need to wear waterproof shoes? The water may be higher and colder? What kind of shoes do most wear? We have rainboots, would those suffice?

        1. Avatar for Julie Post

          You can rent boots in Springdale and you might want neoprene booties to keep your feet warm (they’ll have these too). Or, you can just wear a pair of good walking or hiking shoes you don’t mind getting wet. For more info, take a look at our Narrows Guide. It has footwear options, rental shops in Springdale, and lots of other handy tips. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Tiffany C
    Tiffany C

    Wonderful information! We just visited Zion and the bridge from the Lodge is closed so the only way to get to the Emerald pools trail is from the Kayenta trail. Just an fyi!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  6. Avatar for Jenny J Smith
    Jenny J Smith

    Such awesome information! Thank you. My husband and I are going to Zion for the week of Christmas, hoping to get to the Narrow’s.

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