Welcome to Zion National Park, a place where you can truly enjoy nature and find yourself. The vast and beautiful landscapes are beyond belief. You can hike through the endless canyons, admire the colorful rocks, or just sit on the edge of a cliff and watch the birds fly by.
The park is located in Utah near the Arizona border and is about three hours from Las Vegas. It’s also easily accessible from Interstate 15, so you can make a day trip if you’re coming from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.
There are hundreds of different hiking trails in Zion National Park, but we’ve put together a list of five popular hikes that you should check out when you’re there. These hikes will give you beautiful views of the park and its surroundings. You’ll be able to see cliffs and mountains in all directions as well as wildlife such as deer, elk and coyotes.
There are many short hikes in Zion National Park that are perfect for people who want to get away from it all but don’t have much time. Hikes range from easy to difficult, so they’re suitable for everyone.
About Zion National Park
Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah and is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in the world. With its soaring red cliffs, high plateaus, deep canyons, and narrow rivers, Zion has become one of the most popular places to visit in the United States.
The park covers nearly 150,000 acres and is home to a wide range of plants and animals. There are over 2,500 species of plants that live here and over 200 species of birds. The park’s most popular attractions are its spectacular canyons and towering red cliffs.
5 Best Hikes Before You Leave Zion National Park
Whether you’re looking for a short hike or a long hike with plenty of views, there’s something for everyone at Zion National Park. Here are five must-do hikes before you leave Zion National Park:
1. Angel’s Landing
Angel’s Landing is one of the most famous and popular hikes in Zion National Park, and for good reason. The trail offers spectacular views of Zion Canyon and the Virgin River, with a few steep drop-offs along the way to keep you from getting too comfortable. Although the hike is only about 5 miles roundtrip, it can be tough because of its many elevation gains and drops.
The trail begins at The Grotto shuttle stop and follows the West Rim Trail for about 1.5 miles. After reaching Scout Lookout, hikers must ascend a steep ridge with cliffs on both sides. Chains along the rock help you make your way to Angel’s Landing, an outcropping that offers breathtaking views of the canyon below.
This hike is not recommended for those afraid of heights, or anyone who has trouble climbing up steep terrain without chains. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes, pack plenty of water and watch out for others as you maneuver through tight spaces during peak hiking season.
2. Canyon Overlook
The Canyon Overlook is the shortest and easiest hike in Zion, but still provides great views. It is ideal for anyone who wants to get a good view of Zion Canyon without having to climb a lot of stairs.
If you are traveling with kids, this is definitely one of the best hikes in Zion for them. You can take your time, enjoy the scenery and breathe in the fresh air while getting some exercise. There is an observation platform that gives you an excellent view of the canyon below. You’ll be able to see the Virgin River, which is responsible for carving this amazing landscape out of rock over millions of years.
The Canyon Overlook is also a suitable hike for you if you are only visiting Zion National Park for a short period of time or if you have mobility issues that prevent you from doing other hikes.
The trailhead is located near the Zion Lodge and parking area. It’s easy to find if you follow signs for the “Canyon Overlook Trail.” The trailhead has a picnic area where you can sit down and eat a snack before your hike.
3. Emerald Pools
The Emerald Pools are a series of oases in Zion Canyon, where you can see multiple different habitats. The Upper Emerald Pool is a short walk from the lower pool, but some parts of it can be steep and slippery, so watch your step.
The Lower Emerald Pool is the easiest to get to and has a wooden boardwalk that takes you to the base of an impressive waterfall. During the rainier seasons (winter and spring), these falls are very impressive. Even during drier times, there are still some pools that won’t disappoint.
You’ll have to take a shuttle bus to get to the trailhead for this hike, so make sure you plan accordingly — it’s about 20 minutes one way.
4. The Narrows
The Narrows is the most famous hike in Zion National Park, and for good reason. It’s like nowhere else on earth. The trail takes you through a slot canyon where the walls are 1,000 feet tall and at times only 20 feet apart. The Virgin River flows along the entire length of the hike and can be anywhere from ankle to waist deep.
The Narrows also has no official trailhead, so every hiker will walk into the river right away and follow it as far as they want to go. This makes it customizable for any group or family.
We recommend hiking upstream (upstream is North) because within a half mile you’ll see a beautiful hidden waterfall behind a small alcove that provides some relief from the sun. The water is cold but very refreshing in the summer heat.
There is an option to hike down from Chamberlain’s Ranch, which is about 16 miles upriver from the end of the paved trail by the Temple of Sinawava. This option requires a shuttle and a reservation for overnight camping but provides a very remote experience that most visitors don’t get to see.
The Pa’rus Trail is a paved trail that starts at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and ends at Canyon Junction. It also links up to the Emerald Pools Trail, which is one of the more popular trails in Zion National Park. The Pa’rus Trail is mostly flat and it is the only trail in Zion NP that you are allowed to ride your bike on. It follows along the Virgin River and gives some great views of Zion Canyon.
It is extremely popular with families who are visiting Zion NP. There are restrooms and drinking fountains located at the visitor center, so this trail makes for a nice day trip for families who visit Zion Canyon and want to experience a little more of the park without doing any major hiking.
FAQs about Hiking in Zion National Park
Is Zion National Park Hard To Hike?
Zion National Park has several hikes that are considered easy, although you should still be prepared for some gentle inclines and declines. Easy hikes in Zion National Park include Riverside Walk, Weeping Rock, Emerald Pools, Pa’rus Trail and Canyon Overlook.
When Should You Not Hike the Narrows?
Hiking The Narrows is an adventure. It’s not a trail hike. You’ll be walking in the Virgin River, climbing over and around rocks, wading through pools of water, and hiking on slippery rocks under the towering walls of Zion Canyon.
Hiking The Narrows is best done in the summer when the water is warmest and there’s less chance of flash flooding. If you go in spring or fall, you may need neoprene booties, neoprene socks, and neoprene gloves to stay warm. You may also need to rent a drysuit if there’s a chance of rain.
Can Beginners Hike Zion?
The answer is yes! There are trails here that anyone can hike, regardless of age or experience level.
The easiest hike in Zion National Park is the Pa’rus Trail. It is less than three miles round trip, mostly flat, and paved the entire way. You can even bring your dog on this one. This trail runs along the Virgin River from Canyon Junction to the South Campground.
If you want a little bit more adventure, but still something simple enough for beginners, you will want to try the Riverside Walk trail. This trail follows alongside the Virgin River and ends at The Narrows. You can hike as far as you want on this trail and then turn around when you are ready.
Winding It Up
If you’re looking to explore the beautiful outdoors in southern Utah, look no further than Zion National Park. With its iconic rock formations and desert flora, it’s a bucket-list destination for hikers of all skill levels.
The park’s main canyon is accessible via shuttle bus and short walks from the visitor’s center. But if you want to get the full experience, step away from the crowds along the Virgin River and onto any one of these five trails for a truly beautiful, immersive experience.