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!

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


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: 17 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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Comments 61

  1. Zion Park admission fees are $35 per private car (all occupants) or $20 for pedestrians. Does that mean that a party of four that leaves their car in Springdale and takes the bus would pay double admission ticket?

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      That’s a very good question and I am not sure of the answer. Tim and I have taken the Springdale shuttle and got into the park, as pedestrians, on one park pass (we have an America the Beautiful Pass) but I don’t know how it works if everyone in your group is not part of the same family.

  2. We hiked Hidden Canyon on our honeymoon eight years ago because Angels Landing was too scary for us. We thought Hidden Canyon would be much more our speed. It turned out to be plenty exhilarating for us! It was one of our favorite hikes ever and, yes, I think in large part because it was less crowded than some of the others.

    Love your blog, by the way. We followed your Tromso, Lofoten itinerary last July and had the trip of a lifetime. Thanks for all the great ideas.

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  3. Hi Julie,

    Is 1.5 days enough at Zion to do a few different hiking trails and get a feel for the place ? Also, where do you recommend we stay ?


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      Yes, a day and a half is enough time. Do the hike that interests you the most first thing on the morning of your full day. Try to be on the first shuttle…you’ll have a much better experience if you can do some hiking relatively crowd free. We stay at the Holiday Inn in Springdale and it’s great. Cheers, Julie

      1. Thank you, Julie. We initially had planned for 5 days, but now have 2.5 days. Can we do Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon in 1 day ? Also, does Zion have similar arches/structures as Bryce ? Thank you !

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          With one day, you could visit the east rim of the Grand Canyon and see Antelope Canyon. It might be best to see the Grand Canyon first thing in the morning and do an early afternoon tour of Antelope Canyon. Zion, Bryce, and Arches all look different. They all have the same red stone, but Arches has arches, Bryce has the hoodoos, and Zion is more about red sandstone mountains and canyons that were carved out by the Virgin River. Don’t try to get to everything in 2.5 days. Stick with Zion, since that is near the Grand Canyon, and on a future trip, you can visit more of Utah. Cheers, Julie

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      No, we did not bring our kids on Angels Landing, it was just me and Tim. The youngest age we typcially recommend is 12 and only if they have lots of hiking experience. Cheers, Julie

  4. I want to kike the Narrows, but I don’t want to get my hiking shoes soaked. Do they have a place to rent water hiking shoes in Zion?

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  5. We spent the day at Zion after a day at Red Rocks Canyon. My son and I are new to hiking, but what a great place to start! All the trails are amazing but many were closed. We tried Angels Landing but did not reach the top. Our fears overwhelmed us but we were pleased with the heights we did reach. Just an amazing place that words and photos cannot describe!

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      Wow, what a great introduction to hiking! Hopefully you will get a chance to visit Zion again when all of the trails are open. It’s a beautiful place! Cheers, Julie

  6. I just spent a couple days in Zion and Angel’s Landing was absolutely packed. We caught the 6:30 am shuttle into the park (there in time for the 6:15 but it filled up) and there was a long line to attempt angel’s landing in the scout’s lookout area. Didn’t feel safe to me to be going around a steady line of people up and down so we decided to pass.

    I’d also highly recommend the watchman’s trail as a hike with beautiful views, especially while so many of the other popular hikes are closed right now

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      Thanks for the update…it sounds like it’s been crazy crowded on the trail to Angels Landing this past month. Cheers, Julie

  7. skip angels landing! the amount of people panicking on the trail made it very unsafe..also just continue past angels landing onto West rim trail it is hands down 10 times better than angels landing ..

  8. I work at Zion. Update on some of the trails. Observation Point and Hidden Canyon hikes are closed due to large rockfalls in the fall.
    Kayenta Trail from the Grotto stop is closed for the same reason.
    Lower Emerald Pools from the Lodge is open, but you can’t go too much further.
    It’s going to take time and money (that Park Service doesn’t get)(politics) to make the trails safe again. In the mean time , Angels Landing is getting major visitor traffic and tends to get very congested. Still a very beautiful Park and there are still lots of things to do. I’m very fortunate to be there.

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      Hello Judy. Thanks for the updates. I have seen reports this week of the crowds at Angels Landing. With all the trail closures (and the Narrows aren’t open yet either, I just saw yesterday) there’s limited options in the park. I hope the trails get repaired soon. Zion is a very special place. Cheers, Julie

    2. Hi Judy,
      we were planning to walk the trail to Observation Point via the East Rim Trail from inside the park (Weeping Rock). Do you know if work are being done right now to clear the trails and if there is a chance to take this hike in the middle of August?

      Cheers from Denmark, ;o)

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        Hello, I am not sure when the work is supposed to be completed. You could contact the National Park Service in Zion to see if they can give you an update. Hopefully it will be open soon! Cheers, Julie

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  9. A very nice Zion trail is TAYLOR CREEK TRAIL (Middle Fork of Taylor Creek). Highly recommended. It involves numerous small creek crossings so be prepared to get your shoes a bit wet. At the end of the trail you will be rewarded with incredible sights of Double Arch Alcove and a small waterfall.
    This trail is accessible from Kolob canyon side (other side than Springdale).

    Rating: fairly easy day hike. 5mi roundtrip.

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  10. After looking over all of your big 5 reviews, can’t wait to go this year in late September. Since we are just over 70, can you suggest some short hikes with great view at each site? Will also be stopping at Devils Garden, Valley of Fire & Dead Horse Point. Plan to stay in Moab for 4 days and 2 days each at Zion & Bryce. Leaving Moab heading south to Durango and weaving through Page and down to Las Vegas. Thanks

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      Sounds like a great trip! Here are some short hikes with good views. At Zion, Canyon Overlook is perfect. At Bryce Canyon, just walking along the rim gives you the best views (go an sunrise and sunset since you will be here 2 days) but the Queens Garden Navajo Loop is very fun. At Capitol Reef, walk out to Sunset and Panorama Point for a great view of the park. At Arches, go as far as you like down the Devils Garden Trail. And at Canyonlands, Mesa Arch is amazing and we really like the White Rim Overlook trail. Devils Garden, Dead Horse Point, and Valley of Fire are all also amazing…just as great as the national parks. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  11. Hi Julie

    i’m looking for a one day trip to Zion and a one day trip to Bryce

    can you suggest itineraries for both and hotels/motels to stay

    i’m thinking of going the end of September and the beginning of October then on to Vegas

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      1. I’ll be hiking the Narrows with my boyfriend on Nov 2nd. Any tips for the current weather conditions? I was told there is a place to rent gear so we don’t need to travel with wet suits etc. Any idea about that?

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          We just hiked the Narrows on October 29 (top down). We rented waterproof backpacks at Zion Outfitters that were perfect. We also rented neoprene socks, boots, and a full drysuit from Zion Adventure Company. We used 2 companies because we liked the ZAC drysuits but they did not have the backpack option. If I did it again, I would rent everything from Zion Outfitters because their gear looked like it is in better condition.

          On October 29, water temp was about 50 degrees and the flow rate low. In Springdale I believe it got up to the mid-70’s but it’s at least 10 degrees colder in the canyon. Bring layers and if you are going in the early morning, you should also bring a hat and gloves. There was frost on the trail at Chamberlain’s Ranch. I will be writing a whole post soon but it won’t be out in time for your hike. But what an amazing experience! Enjoy!! Cheers, Julie

  12. Hi Julie,

    What trail acitivities would you recommend for day trip to Zion. We will reach there nigh before and plan to depart in PM.


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      For a day trip with kids, I recommend Canyon Overlook. It’s short and family friendly and the view is awesome. Weeping Rock and the Riverside Walk are nice too. You can also drive along route 9, east of the Canyon Overlook Trail. It’s a very pretty scenic drive and you can explore the colorful rocks. We were lucky enough to see mountain goats here. Just check the official National Park website for trail closures. Angels Landing and maybe part of Emerald Pools is currently closed due to damage to the trails from storms earlier this summer. Cheers, Julie

  13. Also consider the East Rim Trail starting at the East entrance and ending at Weeping Rock trailhead. Great all day hike.

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