Julie United States 61 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

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. 

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


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

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

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.


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

Zion in October

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

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: Expect huge crowds on the trail to Angels Landing. Observation Point (from Weeping Rock), Hidden Canyon, and Weeping Rock are closed, giving hikers limited options in Zion National Park. 

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

Angels Landing

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
Length of time: 4 to 6 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Zion Shuttle Stop: Weeping Rock, stop #7

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

Observation Point

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.

Zion Narrows Hike

Zion Narrows

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

Subway

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

West Rim Trail

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 are having a hard time getting a shuttle reservation.

Hike the Watchman Trail

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

Planning a visit to the US national parks? Visit our Guide to the National Parks to learn more about the parks, with important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

How to Get Around Zion National Park

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

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. 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 Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows from the bottom-up. 

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.

For more information about Zion National Park, click here to read our Guide to Zion National Park. Get important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

Travel Planning and Road Trip Ideas:

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 or if you want to share your experience!

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Best Hikes Zion National Park

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Comments 61

  1. We followed your excellent guide for Arches, Canyonlands, and Bryce – all three were outstanding and our experience was unforgettable. It is therefore quite painful to admit that Zion turned out a complete fiasco for us this weekend. We were at the visitors center by 6 am only to see two to three thousand people before us that turned into more than an hour waiting time. Half of good trails were closed (knew in advance), remaining trails were packed to such a degree that we were trying to avoid collisions with others. Forget about Angels Landing- 2.5 hours waiting time at the trailhead and another hour at Scouts. All in all, unsuccessful visit. We originally allocated two days for Zion (like for other three parks) but would be cutting it short and will be going to Grand Canyon instead. Woukd also like to see Willis slot canyon, as you advised. Thank you for maintaining such an awesome website, it is extremely helpful.

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      Author

      I’m glad we could help but I’m sorry to hear about how insanely crowded Zion is. I knew it would be crowded this summer but that’s crazy! Zion is a great park…maybe you can return some day in a year or two (the end of October into November would be a great time to visit). Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi Julie,
    Do you think March is a good time to visit the national parks in Utah? We are contemplating taking a trip there for our 2022 spring break.

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      Author

      Yes, March is a very nice time to visit…daytime temps should be mild, nights could be cool/cold but snow and very hot weather is unlikely during that time. The crowds will pick up around spring break so you could start making your travel arrangements now or wait until early fall to get your first choice on lodging. Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi Julie, We planned a 2 week trip to Utah’s Mighty five last October and had to cancel due to Covid. We are now planning to go October, 2021. We are thinking about skipping Zion and doing it another time due to the crowds, tickets for shuttles, algae (we were planning to hike the Narrows) and the fact that several hikes are closed. Do you think Zion still has some good hikes to do and we should stop for the day or just continue on to Bryce and spend our time effectively at other parks that do not have closures.

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      Author

      If you think that you will be visiting Zion in the future, my opinion is that your time will be better spent in the other national parks. There are a lot of issues with Zion right now, as you know. Hopefully in the next year or two, things will be “back to normal.” There are many things to do at the other parks to fill your time. With that being said, Zion will always be crowded, due to its extreme popularity. If you can, plan your return visit for the end of October/early November. The crowds are lower, the temps are cool, and the fall colors are beautiful. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi there – I appreciated how informative your page was. We haven’t been to Zion National Park in a few years! Wow, a lot has changed… tickets for the shuttle! We used to do the backcountry hikes and canyoneering when we lived out west.

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      Author
  5. You can actually still hike to Observation Point from either the East Mesa Trailhead (7 miles) or Stave Spring Trailhead (11.5). You drive through Zion and park on the back side of the park and hike in from the trailheads. East Mesa is flat and easy while Stave Spring involves following cairns through several canyons. Both are accessible by dirt roads. If its rained then the roads can be rough, but most cars should be able to make it. I didn’t see many sedans around the trailhead, but most other cars are fine.

  6. Hello, I’m a California girl and my friend is a native of St. Louis. We plan on meeting up in Las Vegas in November and drive to Zion National Park. Your blog has been a great starter in gathering Intel on how we will plan our trip and what trails to hike. She will be excited that I researched our trip and got the distance, the time frames and the activity level of each each hiking trail. Our goal is to spend the day only but thanks for the tip on the Holiday inn if we should find ourselves anxiously awaiting to hit a few other trails the next day.

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      Author

      Hello Josette. Thanks for writing in to us. 😊 Have a great trip to Zion…November is a great time to visit (we will be in Utah this month too…but unfortunately not Zion). Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi, Great article! I was wondering how hard is the Angels Landing for someone who rarely hikes, but I am in a good physical fitness(ran the New York Marathon last year)?

    Thanks.

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      Author

      If you can run a marathon you will have no problem hiking Angels Landing. It can be a strenuous climb to get up to the chains but you should be just fine. Congrats on doing the NYC Marathon!! That was the first marathon Tim and I ran, back in 1997. Entering Manhattan and running up First Ave was amazing. Have fun in Zion! Cheers, Julie

  8. Thank you for your informative blog! I am amazed by the many choices of trekking routes.
    I’d love to try trekking there someday.
    I hope covid-19 will disappear soon

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      Author
  9. Thank you once again for this very detailed blog! (if hike needs shuttle or not). We just started hiking and loving it so far! I have subscribed to your newsletter.

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      Author
  10. I discovered your site while planning a spontaneous 2-week camping trip through Utah. I’m loving all the advice for each of the national parks! I found a few updates for you:

    The chain section of Angel’s Landing appears to be open now.
    Observation Point can be accessed via the East Mesa Trailhead, which seems like a good option if you can’t get a shuttle ticket.
    Hiking the Subway, from either direction, requires a permit

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      Author

      Thank you so much for these updates. I’m thrilled that the chains are open on Angels Landing…it’s such a great hike to do in the park. I hope you have a great camping trip in Utah. We love this area so much we will be back in early November (Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches…all repeat visits but there is just so much to do here). Cheers, Julie

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