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Perhaps the most prominent thing to do in Zion National Park is to go hiking. The southwestern corner of Utah is home to one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States. Rivers and jewel-toned pools contrast with red cliffs, along with numerous other natural features. While at times quite difficult, Zion’s trails deliver some amazing views and sites. So the exertion is always worth it. While many of our favorite trails are tough stuff, we’ve included some easier ones as well.
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One of the most scenic trails in the United States, Angels Landing is a 5.4-mile heart-stopping trail that has folks doing more rock scaling than basic walking. Seriously, there is a chain assist “rail” that seems to go vertical up rock ledges, so this is not for the acrophobic. However, most will tell you that the exerting journey is more than worth it once the top is reached. This isn’t one of the most famous hikes in all of Zion National Park for no reason.
There may not be a better starter hike than Riverside Walk. Featuring an entirely paved path, the route is navigable for just about everyone. Talk with Park Rangers to best plan for visitors with disabilities. Winding closely beside the pristine Virgin River, the relaxing trek takes visitors to the beginning portion of the ever famous Narrows, which is Zion’s most slim canyon. Those gorge walls tower seemingly to the heavens. (We will talk more about extensive hikes that dive into this area). But we like this pick for those who may not be up for venturing further, to more uneven and challenging terrain.
Considered one of the best places to visit in Utah, you can continue from Riverside Walk into the Narrows. So you’ll start out with an easy peasy jaunt, then will enter into the gorge. Be prepared, because this route requires you to wade through water. So don’t expect to stay dry! The canyon is the result of the flowing Virgin River waters carving through the rock over the years. The route is highly unique and iconic. There are other routes hikers can take when exploring this part of the canyon.
Is the Riverside Walk not thrilling enough? Well, Observation Point will kick your butt. This is an 8-mile round-trip journey that will have hikers gaining serious elevation. Experts note this to be one of the classic experiences within Zion National Park, so more than likely those who take it on will feel satisfied and accomplished. Needless to say, the top offers spectacular views and even sightings of other bucket list spots in the park. Bring a small lunch and just take it all in for a bit.
Canyon Overlook Trail lives up quite literally to the name. The relatively low difficulty path leads to an incredible overlook peering over Zion Canyon – this point is a representation of the entire national park. Most families, if proceeding with extreme caution at the rocky beginning portion, can explore this trail together. After the initial bumpy start, the path levels out and becomes flat. Then you’re just left with many dramatic overlooks, and relaxing moments. Never leave children unattended.
The longer hikers stick it out along Emerald Pool Trail, the more visual rewards they will receive. While the beauty of the lower pools is certainly notable, things become more dramatic as the walk inclines to a greater degree. Some note the path to be moderately strenuous. But oh when the upper pools are reached, how grateful adventurists are that they fought through it. Zion Lodge is the optimal starting point and isn’t far at all from the lower pools.
Weeping Rock can be reached via a pretty short trail, which still has its challenges, such as rocks and inclines. But most people who do not have any difficulty walking can make it to the massive natural overhang. The rock somewhat curls over the pathway and water trickles from its surface, hence the name “Weeping Rock”. The park shuttle stops close to the trailhead which is also very simple to access. Check in advance that falling rocks have not caused closings at this location.
Hoping to see all of Zion (well at least a pretty decent amount along one hike)? No trail offers as much exploration and overall scenery as The West Rim Trail. The route extends much further than others and will take backpackers and day adventurists on a 17-mile hike. Yes, some do it in a day which can be unrealistic for some, especially if wanting to slowly breathe in the beauty. So if a day hike seems a little too daunting, a two to three-day backpacking trip would break this up a little. All in all, it’s the best overview of the area.