11 Amazing Zion National Park Hikes You Need To Do At Least Once

It’s easy to see why early settlers could only think of the same name they used for heaven when they stumbled upon the glorious landscape of Zion National Park.

When me and my wife traveled to Zion from our NYC apartments a couple years back, it was our first national park experience.

Gigantic weeping walls, emerald pools, sweeping views, and a beautiful river running through a spectacularly diverse landscape. After witnessing that, we left New York on a mission to see what else the West and our national parks could offer us. That’s how inspiring this place is. 

After that visit we’ve gone back a few times during our travels and never get tired of it. It’s one of the most visited parks in the country for good reason.

While massive crowds can sometimes put a damper on things, there are ways to minimize the impact and often avoid them.

So, here are 11 incredible hikes you must do in Zion National Park!

Angels Landing

Length: 4.4 mi | Elevation Gain: 1,604 ft. | Difficulty: Hard

Some park-goers might want to bang out the heavy hitters right from the start, and nothing would better suit that type of person than heading to the iconic Angels Landing.

It’s probably the most famous of the hikes you can do in Zion.

4.4 miles might not seem that long, but that constant climb for 1,604 feet makes this trail tough. Of course, the view from the top is legendary.

Unfortunately, when we went the last bit with the chain links was closed off due to the pandemic. However, now-a-days I believe it’s open and all are welcome to perform the harrowing tight-wire act that brings you to the pinnacle of Zion Canyon.

It’s important to remember that this is one of, if not the most, popular hikes in the park. Therefore, expect lots of crowds. It’s so hugely popular that there is now a lottery system in place that awards permits to those who want to complete the hike. There are two lotteries, a seasonal one and a day before one.

Check here for important dates regarding the seasonal lottery application as well as more information on the day before lottery. 

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Pa’rus Trail

Length: 3.4 mi  | Elevation Gain: 157 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Paiute for “bubbling water”, the Pa’rus trail is a pleasant, easy-going trail that starts from the parking lot and follows the Virgin River to as far up as Canyon Junction.

However, people often just take a stroll as long as they like, pausing for photos, and heading back when they feel like it. While it’s certainly a leisure trail, that doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding. The views from the lower canyon are spectacular all the way up the river side. 

The trail is great for bikers and dog parents as well! If you do have a dog with you, always be careful to check for any warnings regarding the water. Often times the water has an over-abundance of toxic algae that can be potentially deadly for pets.

The trail is perfectly accessible as well, with well-maintained, paved, trails right near the entrance. If you’re looking for relatively easy yet rewarding hikes to do in Zion National Park, the Par’s trail is a perfect way to start your Zion adventure.

pa'rus tral

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

The Narrows

Length: 8.9 mi | Elevation Gain: 695 ft. | Difficulty: Hard

If Angels Landing is not the most famous hike in Zion, it surely has to be The Narrows.

Hiking this trail has certainly been one of the most incredible experiences in my life.

While there isn’t a daunting climb in elevation, this hike has its own unique challenge: water.

On this hike you’ll trudge upstream almost entirely, making it quite the workout.

The resistance of traveling upstream is one thing, but you’d be surprised how tiring trying to balance on river bed rocks can get.

You might be thinking, “wow, sounds miserable, why do it?”, and that’s fair. However, your reward is one of the most incredible slot canyons in the world.

A hike like this does take preparation. For most hikers, this is an out and back hike, and you choose to go in as far as you’d like.

Walking through water like this is made easier with the proper gear. You’re going to want good, high-ankle hiking shoes to navigate the river rocks without twisting an ankle. It’s also helpful to have a solid walking stick. 

Now, you’ll see a lot of folks donning some funny looking shoes, water-proof overalls, and fancy hiking sticks from the local rental outfitters.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to spend the money on it.

In my experience, I was fine with just my high-ankle Merrell hiking boots and an au naturel walking stick found at the trailhead. Many hikers will leave them behind for the next batch of adventurers. 

Important for me to point out though that I went in summer. So while my gear wasn’t the highest quality water protecting gear, the water was much warmer and it was much easier to dry off. Winter explorers may have to seek out better advice.

As always, with popular hikes such as this, go early to beat the crowds and enjoy the solitude of this canyon. 

More important information here.

the narrows

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Zion Riverside Walk

Length: 1.9 mi | Elevation Gain: 193 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

For a family-friendly hike in Zion deep inside the canyon almost where the aforementioned Narrows begin, check out the Zion Riverside Walk.

Highly accessible for people of all ages and those with wheel-chairs, this makes a nice easy way to still get some impressive views of Zion Canyon.

Walking along the Virgin River dip inside the canyon, you’ll be surrounded by gigantic weeping walls and lush hanging gardens.

The walk begins at the Temple of Sinawava, also known as shuttle stop number 9 – the last stop.

It’s also a good place to hang out in summer, maybe in mid-day when it’s too hot to take on something strenuous.

The huge towering walls of this palace help to provide shelter from the sun and create cool atmosphere. Of course, high accessibility at one of the most popular national parks in the country may result in high traffic.

NOTE: The shuttle up the canyon gets crowded early, so get there before everyone else if you want a seat!

More info!

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Emerald Pools

Length: 3.0 mi | Elevation Gain: 620 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

Another classic Zion hike. The Emerald Pools section of the park features three pools, the lower, middle, and upper pools.

Along the trails in this area you’ll find glistening waterfalls, lush greenery, and some sandy desert portions.

There are numerous trails and ways to access the emerald pools. This trail via Alltrails allows you to check out all three.

As your intuition might suggest, each pool takes a little more effort to reach than the previous, with the upper pool being the most difficult to reach. 

You’ll find the Emerald Pools trailhead right by the lodge in Zion, which requires a shuttle to reach during peak seasons. The trail immediately splits into two, you can either go the lower pools route, or start heading up towards the middle pool, giving yourself a view of the lower pools from above. It’s worth making the trek all the way to the upper pool, as you’ll get incredible canyon views. 

While there are places to hide from the sun on this trail, it’s always recommended to go early in the AM to beat the heat in the summer months. It’s also a good way to avoid the crowds, as this is definitely a very popular hike.

Always bring more water than you think is necessary and lather on that sunscreen!

More info on emerald pools here!

Lower Emerald Pool

Image by Dulcey Lima on UnSplash

Zion Grotto Trail

Length: 1.2 mi | Elevation Gain: 78 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Here’s an easy, yet lovely Zion National Park hike. It’s perfect for those days when you’re tired from the more intense Zion hikes on this list, but still would like to get out there in the park and take in some fresh air.

This trail actually connects to the previous Emerald Pools trail, and starts right at the Zion Lodge which is the 5th stop on the shuttle. Accessibility and peaceful serenity make this a great trail for rest days at the lodge.

One of the best aspects about this trail, is that it’s very common to see fuzzy friends, interesting insects, and colorful reptilians. The best time to see wildlife is in the early morning, or right at dusk.

As in every one of our national parks, it’s always important to keep your distance and be respectful! It’s highly frowned upon to do otherwise. 

More info here!

Middle Fork Taylor Creek Trail

Length: 4.9 mi | Elevation Gain: 590 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

One of the less known and explored section of the park is Kolob Canyon. It’s located in the northwest part of the park and riddled with majestic peaks and 2,000 foot cliffs.

There are a bunch of scenic overlooks that give you panoramic views of those crimson canyons. However, I know you and I know that you want to get up close and personal with those canyons.

A great way to do that is by hiking the Middle Fork Taylor Creek Trail!

It’s a not too difficult hike, totally doable for families with kids, and has a parking lot that sits about two miles from the canyon.

One cool aspect of the trail is that there are two historical cabins on the trail built in the 1930s. However, the highlight is the Double Arch Alcove at the end of the trail.

It’s essentially a beautiful, gigantic, rock cave structure. Often a little less crowded than other sections of the park, this trail is definitely worth the hike at Zion National Park.

More info!

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

The Watchman Trail

Length: 3.1 mi | Elevation Gain: 636 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

The Watchman Trail is another semi-easy Zion trail to tackle. 3 miles long with moderate elevation gain make this another good hike at Zion National Park for kids and those looking for a more easy-going jaunt.

It’s an oft-overlooked trail overshadowed by the likes of Angel’s Landing and the Narrows. However, the incredible views over Springdale and the surrounding valley makes this trail one of the coolest hikes in Zion.

The hike is very close to the south entrance of the park, beginning at the visitor center. Arrive early because parking can be overrun well before noon!

I know I mentioned that it’s often overlooked, but any trail in Zion has the potential to get crowded. Desert vibes throughout, this trail is exposed essentially the entire time, so be sure to remember the essentials. Lots of water, hats, and sunscreen.

More info here.

Watchman

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

East Rim Trail to Overlook

Length: 4.5 mi | Elevation Gain: 547 ft. | Difficulty: Easy

Just inside the East Entrance of the park, begins the East Rim Trail.

With Springdale as the most common lodging choice for families visiting Zion, the South Entrance sees far more visitors enter through its gates than the East Entrance.

Even more reason than that is the fact that the Visitor Center and the first stop of the shuttle are located just inside the South Gate, which gives access to some of the most popular sections of Zion.

This makes the East side attractions a little more “under-the-radar.” However, just as glorious.

During our month staying in Kanab, UT, we always entered and got to know the East side a lot better. One of our favorite hikes was the East Rim Trail to Overlook.

Easy to moderate in difficulty, this is a doable trail for people of all ages in my opinion. You’ll find the trail head just to the right of the East entrance, and you’ll face an array of landscapes on your hike.

For much of the hike, you’ll be in sand, which is challenging to walk in and requires good footing! There is some shade, but you can definitely have some brutal exposure in the summer heat. Be prepared.

Once you make it past the set of switchbacks, you’ll be greeted by the most stunning view of the valley. 

This was truly one of our favorite hikes in Zion, more info here!

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Scout Lookout Via West Rim Trail

Length: 3.6 mi | Elevation Gain: 1,115 ft. | Difficulty: Hard

Sharing the same trails as those ascending to the famous Angel’s Landing, people should not forget that a hike of Angel’s Landing to Scout Lookout is just as a breathtaking.

Taking the west rim trail you’ll pretty much be walking uphill throughout the entirety of the hike, making it brutal during the summer months. On a hot day, you’ll find relief passing through the cool airs of Refrigerator Canyon.

However, you’ll have another test in the iconic Walter’s Wiggles on the home stretch. Just beyond Walter’s Wiggles, turn left, rather than heading right as you would to Angel’s Landing.

You’ll meet some of the most beautiful views in all of Zion. Go even farther up the trail and you can reach a point of facing Angel’s Landing, providing a unique perspective of the iconic landing.

This hike is tough, so bring more water than you think you’ll need. Although, you might find relief knowing it’s all down hill from the top.

As one of the most popular trails in the park, you’ll have to beat the crowds by getting up earlier than them.

Easily one of the best hikes in Zion, read more about it here.

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Zion Canyon Overlook Trail

Length: 1.0 mi| Elevation Gain: 187 ft. | Difficulty: Moderate

Relatively easy compared to some of the other hikes in Zion, this trail is a must.

When you go on IG and search Zion or some related hashtag, you’re guaranteed to see a photo of someone looking out onto the canyon from the edge of a cliff. That’s this trail.

If you’re starting from the south side of the park, you’ll get to drive up the weaving route 9 and through the legendary Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Just past the tunnel is the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail trailhead. 

As one of the most popular photo spots in the park, and maybe the country, you’re going to want to be prepared for lots of people. However, it a short hike so many people don’t spend too much time.

As you should know by now, timing is everything. If you want to get parking with ease, which is right on the side of route 9, get out there early, or try going late. But, this is a hugely popular spot for sunset so going late might not even make things easy. 

I have to say, I understand why this hike is so popular. The view is downright outstanding. As far as the path to the view, there are definitely some spots that might get to people who are afraid of heights.

NOTE: Be careful and take your time, as there are sections that are exposed. Every bit of effort is worth it though, as this is one of the must-do hikes in Zion.

More info here!

Zion Canyon Overlook

Image by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Did we miss any of your favorite hikes in Zion National Park?

Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to our list!

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