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7 Best Zion Hikes: How to See the Most Stunning Views

If you’re looking for the best Zion hikes, you’ve come to the right place.  We grew up in Utah and have been to Zion National Park many times.  To this day, these hikes are some of my favorites in the world.

This list is a compilation of our very favorites from our years of visiting the park.  Some of these hikes are hard uphill climbs, while some are easy paths better suited for families with kids.  Whatever your hiking scene, you’ll be able to find the perfect hike for your next trip to Zion. 

Important Things to Know Before Hiking in Zion

Here are the most important things to know before Planning your trip to Zion National Park:

  • Many of these hikes are in Zion Canyon, which is not accessible via private vehicle during the majority of the year. Instead, Zion National Park runs a free shuttle system to take hikers to the canyon’s trailheads.
  • Angel’s Landing, one of the park’s most popular hikes, now requires a valid permit.
  • The Narrows slot canyon, the other most popular hike in the park, can be closed at short notice if the Virgin River flow is over 150 cubic feet/second. Always check the river’s current conditions before planning your trip to avoid any unhappy surprises. 
  • Zion gets very crowded, and the visitor center parking lot is often full by 8 or 9 a.m., so start early!

Best Zion Hikes for Adventurers (Hard Trails)

The following hikes are some of our absolute favorites in the entire park.  These hikes are hard and require advanced planning, but are well worth the effort. 

The Narrows Bottom up to Big Springs

  • Distance: 8.9 mi out and back to Big Springs (but you can turn around at any point)
  • Elevation Change: 695 feet 
  • Difficulty: moderate/hard, depending on the flow and depth of the river
  • Zion Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava, stop #9
  • Permit: A permit is not required for a bottom-up hike (starting at the Temple of Sinawava), but it is required for a top-down hike (starting from Chamberlain’s Ranch).

The Narrows hike involves walking through an incredible slot canyon directly in the Virgin River. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the park, and it’s easy to see why. Walking directly in the river inside of these towering narrow canyon walls is truly an experience unlike any other.  

I’ve done this hike multiple times and am still blown away by the canyon walls each time.

Most hikers rent a dry suit from one of the outfitters in Springdale. Zion Adventures, Zion Outfitter, and Zion Guru are the three main companies, and they all have good reviews. We recommend renting your gear the night before so you can get an early start and beat the crowds. 

tourist in drysuit in front of the Zion Narrows canyon
We rented dry suits for our most recent Narrows bottom-up hike in October of 2020.
the narrows canyon, one of the best zion hikes
One of the more impressive areas of The Narrows, where the river goes completely from wall to wall.

Things to Know Before Hiking the Narrows

  • This hike is generally closed during the spring months.  The melting snow from surrounding areas increases the river’s level and flow rate, making it dangerous for hikers.
  • This hike will be closed on short notice if the river flow exceeds 150 cubic feet/second.  This can happen at any time during the year, especially if there have recently been rainstorms to the north of the park.  It’s important to check the current park conditions before finalizing your plans.
  • Flash floods can happen quickly and unexpectedly, even if the Narrows hike is open.  Always monitor the river while hiking.  If you start to notice an increase in flow speed or a sudden increase in debris, find higher ground immediately.  Read the Narrows safety precautions before heading out.

Angel’s Landing

  • Distance: 4.3 miles round-trip
  • Elevation change: 1827 feet 
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Completion Time: 4 hours
  • Zion Shuttle Stop: the Grotto (stop #6)
  • Permit Required?: Yes, at any point beyond Scout’s Lookout

Angel’s Landing is the other most popular hike in the park and is truly an adventure.  You’ll climb up steep switchbacks, have incredible views of Zion Canyon, and get to climb the narrow spine at the end using chains bolted into the rock.  If you’re afraid of heights, this may not be the hike for you.  For us, this one is always a thrill.  

hiker ascending the chains section of the Angel's Landing hike in Zion National Park.
Ascending the spine/chains section of Angels Landing.
hiker descending the chains portion of the Angel's Landing Trail in Zion National Park.
We ran into ascending hikers on our descent.

As of 2024, the National Parks Service requires all hikers to have a valid permit to ascend past Scout’s Lookout to the chains portion of the hike. 

We’ve written an entire post on how to hike Angel’s Landing, so if you are planning on doing this hike, be sure to check that out. 

graphic of the Angel's Landing trail route

West Rim Trail Loop to Plateau Campsites

  • Distance: 6 miles to plateau views and campsites
  • Elevation: 3100 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderately hard/hard
  • Completion Time: 4-5 hours
  • Zion Shuttle Stop: The Grotto (stop #6)

The West Rim Trail is another personal favorite of mine, as you’ll be able to get away from the crowds once you pass Scout’s Lookout.  This trail starts at shuttle stop #6, The Grotto, and shares the first portion of the trail with the Angel’s Landing Trail.  

However, once you reach Scout’s Lookout, you’ll continue left along the West Rim Trail instead of turning right to climb the chain’s up to the Angel’s Landing lookout point.  

My favorite part of the hike is around mile six or seven when you’ll reach a large flat plateau area with beautiful overhead views of the canyon. The crowds are much thinner on this trail, which we love. 

I did this hike in October 2020 and had incredible views of the fall colors and had the trail to myself. If you are unable to get a permit, this hike is a fantastic alternative to Angel’s Landing. 

rocks and fall colors on the West Rim trail in Zion National Park.
The West Rim Trail in October.
rocks and fall colors on the West Rim trail in Zion National Park.

Best Moderate Trails

These trails all have fantastic views without being quite as difficult as some of the previous routes.

Observation Point via East Mesa Trail

  • Distance: 7.0 miles
  • Elevation Change: 702 ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Completion Time: 3 hours
  • Starting point: East Mesa Trailhead in Springdale

Observation Point is another fantastic alternative to hiking Angel’s Landing if you’re unable to get a permit. The hike has incredible views over Zion Canyon, and I honestly like the view better than that of Angel’s Landing.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: This hike can no longer be accessed from Zion Canyon.  There used to be a popular route starting at the Weeping Rock trailhead, but this trail has been closed long-term due to rockfalls in 2019 and then again in 2023. 

You can still get to Observation Point, but you’ll start to the east of Zion National Park.  Simply plug ‘East Mesa Trailhead’ into your Google Maps to navigate to the starting point.  

The ‘original’ Observation Point trail, starting from weeping rock, was a hard hike, gaining over 2600 feet up a series of switchbacks.  The ‘new’ Observation Point trail is more of a ‘moderate’ hike.  It’s still long but only has about a 700-foot elevation change. 

Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail
Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail

Emerald Pools Trail

  • Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Elevation Change: 620 feet
  • Completion Time: 1hr 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy/moderate
  • Shuttle stop: the Grotto or Zion Lodge (if the bridge is intact)

This isn’t the most stunning hike in Zion Canyon, but it’s a nice one to do if you want to fit one more short hike into an afternoon. We saw some interesting rock formations and liked the small waterfall at the end. We liked the upper pools better than the lower pools, so be sure to do both. 

NOTE: This hike can usually be done as a 3-mile loop that starts at the Zion Lodge stop and then ends at the Grotto (stop #6).  However, the trail bridge at the Zion Lodge end is currently closed, so you’ll have to do this as an out-and-back hike starting from the Grotto.  Check the NPS current conditions page for updates. 

Rock formations/coloring along the Emerald Pools trail.
Rock formations/coloring along the Emerald Pools trail.

The Watchman Trail

  • Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Completion Time: 1hr 30 minutes
  • Zion Shuttle Stop: Visitor Center

The Watchman Trail starts right at the Zion Visitor Center, so it’s a good one to do if you don’t want to worry about waiting in a shuttle line. I also like that this trail tends to be less crowded than many of the others. The views aren’t as stunning as those at the top of some of the harder hikes, but you’ll still see cool red-rock canyon walls and rock formations. 

Red rock walls along the Watchman Trail
The red rock along the Watchman Trail.

We recommend doing the full loop at the end, as there are various viewpoints that you’ll want to check out.  This hike doesn’t have a lot of shade, so again, go early!  

Best Zion Hikes for Families (Easy Trails)

If you’re looking for an easy hike, these are all great options.

Canyon Overlook Trail

  • Distance: 0.9 miles
  • Elevation: 160 ft 
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Completion Time: 25-30 minutes
  • Starting Point: ‘Canyon Overlook Trailhead Parking Lot’ along Highway 9 (Zion Park Blvd)

This hike is a great way to get fantastic canyon views without needing to ride the Zion shuttle, as the trailhead to the Canyon Overlook Trail is NOT accessed via Zion Canyon.  

To do this hike, you’ll need to drive along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to the east of the park to get to the trailhead parking lot.  Just plug in ‘Canyon Overlook Trailhead Parking Lot.’

Parking is limited at the trailhead, so plan on arriving early.  If you arrive later in the day, be prepared for crowds at the viewpoint.

blue truck driving along the Zion-Mt-Carmel highway
You’ll need to access this hike via Highway 9 (the Zion-Mount Carmel highway).

Riverside Walk

  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation: 190 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Completion Time: 45 minutes
  • Zion Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava 

The Riverside walk starts at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop (stop #9) and winds along a paved trail next to the Virgin River.  This easy trail ends where the Narrows trail starts (so if you hike the Narrows, you’ll do the Riverside Walk first).

While this hike doesn’t fully immerse you in the narrow canyon walls like hiking the Narrows does, it still gives you the opportunity to see parts of the canyon as you walk alongside the river.  

This can be a good alternative to hiking the Narrows for those who don’t want to get in the river or for days when the Narrows hike is closed due to an increased river flow rate.  This trail can get very crowded, so expect to share the view with lots of people. 

Bonus: Pa’rus Trail

  • Distance: 3.2 miles out-and-back
  • Elevation: 130 feet 
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Completion Time: 1 hour to complete the whole trail
  • Zion Shuttle Stop: Visitor Center

This ‘trail’ is a completely paved path, which is why it has an ‘honorable mention’ spot on our list.  

This path is great for biking or walking with a stroller, so it is a fantastic choice for families. It starts right at the visitor center, so there is no need to wait in a shuttle line.  

Best Hikes in Zion on a Map

On This Map: Easy hikes have green markers, moderate hikes have orange markers, and hard hikes have red markers. 

Best Hikes in Zion: In Summary

Our Favorite Hikes in Zion: Angel’s Landing, The West Rim Trail, the Narrows

Best Zion Hikes for Families: Canyon Overview Trail, Riverside Walk, Pa’rus Trail

For the Best Views of Zion Canyon: Angel’s Landing, Scout’s Lookout, Canyon Overview Trail

Best Zion Hikes FAQ:

What is the Most Beautiful Hike in Zion National Park?

The Angel’s Landing trail is a top contender for the most beautiful hike in Zion. It’s not for the faint of heart, but the panoramic views of the red rock of Zion Canyon from the summit are amazing. Hiking the Narrows slot canyon is a close runner-up.

What is the Best Hike in Zion that Does Not Require a Permit?

If you’re looking for a stunning Zion hike without needing a permit, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a gem. It offers awesome views of Zion Canyon. The Narrows bottom-up hike is another favorite that does not require a permit. 

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