Observation Point Zion

Hiking to Observation Point in Zion National Park

Julie United States 10 Comments

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.

Facts about the Hike

Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 4 – 6 hours
When to go: Year round as long as the trail is free of snow and ice. The best seasons are Spring and Fall
Trailhead: Weeping Rock (stop #7 on the Zion Shuttle)

Hiking to Observation Point

After exiting the shuttle, the hike starts at the Weeping Rock trailhead. Almost immediately the climbing begins. It does not take long until you gain some serious elevation as you switchback up the mountain. This first part of the hike is the most monotonous and the least exciting, but it does get a lot better.

Switchback

At ¾ of a mile into the hike, you have the option to make a detour to Hidden Canyon (skip ahead to learn how to do this).

Echo Canyon

After more climbing, the trail levels out in an area called Echo Canyon. This spot is amazing. Less climbing, cooler temperatures, and incredible scenery. For us, it was a very nice surprise. Enjoy this brief break…another long, strenuous climb awaits just around the bend.

Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon Trail

Hiking Echo Canyon

Note: If you do not have the stamina or the desire to hike all of the way to Observation Point, hiking just to Echo Canyon is a nice option. It’s a neat place to explore, with canyon walls looming above you, fun hiking trails, and scenic views. You can explore and climb through the slot canyon, although it is filled with stagnant, chilly water.

Slot Canyon

After leaving Echo Canyon, the climbing resumes. The East Rim Trail will break off to your right, heading out to the eastern section of Zion National Park.

Once again, you will zig zag up the mountain. The switchbacks are tighter and steeper here than at the first part of the hike. The terrain is much different too, with yellow and white sandstone rocks, patchy vegetation, and the occasional evergreen tree. As you climb higher, the views get better, and you will start to get your first glimpses out over Zion National Park.

Zion Trail

Hiking Trail Zion

Hiking to Observation Point

Teaser View

Finally, just when it seems like the climbing will never end, the trail levels out. Now, it is just small ups and downs for the next mile until you reach Observation Point. Off to your left is the river valley of Zion, with teaser views of what is awaiting you at Observation Point.

In this photo, if you follow the tree line on top of the white cliffs, Observation Point is the farthest point to the left. 

Final Mile

The View from Observation Point

Tim and I loved the views from Observation Point. It seems like all of Zion is stretched out in front of you. From this point, you can look down on Angels Landing and the Virgin River snaking its way through the valley.

Have fun exploring the numerous viewpoints, take your selfies, and enjoy the view.

Observation Point

Julie in Zion

Tim Rivenbark

Looking down on Angels Landing, including the entire spine you hike to get out to the final viewpoint.

Angels Landing View

Looking out over the western portion of Zion National Park.

Nice View

You can even see where you came from. The large zig zags to the left are the trail to Observation Point. The narrow zig zags and the trail on the cliffs to the right take you to Hidden Canyon.

View of the Trail

To finish the hike, follow the trail the same way down the mountain. This descent can be hard on the knees and hiking poles are a good idea here to take some of the strain off of your legs.

How to Have the Best Experience

Take One of the First Shuttles of the Day

To avoid the crowds and the midday heat, you should start this hike early. Most of the trail is exposed to the sun and this hike can be brutal during the summer months. Get an early start so you can reach Observation Point before temperatures start to soar.

Consider the Side Trip to Hidden Canyon

We combined the hike to Observation Point with the hike to Hidden Canyon. Both hikes start at the Weeping Rock trailhead and both hikes share the first part of the trail. At ¾ of a mile the trail splits. Go left to continue climbing to Observation Point. Go right to climb to Hidden Canyon.

We hiked Hidden Canyon first. After a series of switchbacks, the trail levels out, but now the trail becomes very exposed. The trail becomes a ledge that clings to the canyon wall, with drop-offs to the valley below. There are chains to keep you safe. This part of the hike is similar to the vertiginous drop offs of Angels Landing, but since it is not nearly as popular, you will have less crowds to deal with.

Hiking Zion

Hidden Canyon Hike

The trail ends at the mouth of a small canyon. From here, you can continue your exploration of the canyon, climbing up and over the boulders and fallen trees.

Hidden Canyon

This hike is pure fun. It’s more about the thrilling section on the ledges and exploring the quiet canyon, than having an amazing view.

This side trip adds 2 to 3 miles of hiking and 1 to 2 hours, depending on how far into the canyon you choose to hike.

Read more: Hidden Canyon: An Unexpected Surprise in Zion National Park

Consider Hiking to Weeping Rock

Weeping Rock is a large, sandstone rock that drips water and is surrounded by a lush garden. This short, fast hike also starts at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.

What to Bring on the Hike

Hiking Shoes. Hiking shoes are preferable, however, running shoes with good support and good traction are sufficient.

Water. Bring plenty of water, especially if you will be hiking midday or during the warmer months.

Sunscreen. There is very little shade on the trail.

Hiking poles (optional). As I have gotten older, I am having more problems with my knees, especially on hikes with a large descent at the end. Hiking poles are my new favorite hiking gadget and I highly recommend them. They take about 30% of the weight off of your legs as you descend, easing knee pain and other symptoms. I use Black Diamond Distance Z poles and love them. They easily collapse down to fit in your luggage and hiking backpack, plus they are extremely lightweight. The poles come in several sizes, so make sure you pick the right length based on your height.

Where We Stayed

We stayed 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. On our next visit to Zion (we loved it so much we can’t wait to go back!) this will be our first choice hotel.

Post updated June 2018.


Have you been to Zion? What is your favorite hike? Comment below!

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Observation Point is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park. Here's how to do it, plus, an optional side trip to Hidden Canyon. #zion #observationpoint #hiking #adventure

Comments 10

  1. Very informative blog and great pictures.
    I am planning to do this hike with 2 year old in backpack and 9 year old. Do you think this is possible. I am checking in terms of cliffs and exposure / drop offs.
    I will be staying at Zion lodge so can start very early morning to avoid heat.
    Thanks.

    1. Post
      Author

      If you are in good shape, yes, it’s possible to do this hike. You should know that there are sections where the edge of the trail drops off…you can see it in some of the photos. However, the trail is wide and well maintained and there’s never a section where you have to walk right along the edge of a cliff. An active 9 year old can do this hike, just educate them about the dangers of hiking too close to the edge of a trail. Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi, we going to be there next week. We are 4 adults (55),
    2 of us are in shape but the others are “just ok”, do you thing we can do the observation point trail?

    Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      I am not really sure how much advice I can offer off of “just OK,” 🙂 but you can always start the hike and see how you do. If you get tired, you can turn around and wait for your group at the bottom of the hike. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, so if you have to split up, it’s easy to find your way back to the start. Cheers, Julie

    1. Post
      Author
  3. Beautiful photos! This blog has been a great help with our planning. Very informative.

    We are visiting Zion end of June this year. We’ll be there for 3 nights and also want to hike the Narrows over two days.

    If we hike Hidden Canyon first and then Observation Rock, are you able to advise the overall length of time it would take in a day?

    1. Post
      Author

      If you combine Hidden Canyon and Observation Point into one hike, it can take a total of 5 to 8 hours (10 miles total), depending on how fast you hike. It’s a strenuous hike so I doubt you’ll be able to add another hike in on the same day, unless it’s very short and easy. Have fun hiking the Narrows…that’s still on our bucket list! Cheers, Julie

    1. Post
      Author

      Great question!! Angels Landing is more of a thrill, with the chains and those drop offs. I think the view is better from Observation Point, but it is also very scenic during the entire hike. If I could just do one hike, I would pick Angels Landing. It’s a blast and the view, even though it may not be quite as good as Observation Point, is still stunning. Cheers, Julie

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