An intriguing blend of history and remarkable topography, Zion National Park is truly one of the most outstanding wildernesses in the entire U.S. Located in Utah, the park features towering sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and miles of trails to explore. Deciding exactly which of those trails to trek can be a difficult proposition, as all are well worth a look. But these are our ten favorite hikes inside Zion, with a little something to offer just about every outdoor adventurer.
No list of hikes inside Zion National Park would be complete without the iconic Angel's Landing. Not for the faint of heart, this 5.4-mile trail features scenic views throughout, but it is the final climb up a narrow ridge that will leave the most lasting impression. Segments of the trail are lined with chains that serve as handholds over the more treacherous and strenuous sections, but the adrenaline-inducing walk offers an amazing payoff in the form of a 1,500-foot overlook that is more than worth the effort.
While spectacular, it is also important to point out that Angel's Landing is also extremely popular too. That makes it a bit crowded at times. Keep that in mind when planning your visit.
As impressive as Angel's Landing is, the Narrows may be Zion's signature trail. This 16-mile-long route wanders through a series of beautiful slot canyons that are utterly spectacular to explore. It makes for a long day-hike to cover the entire length, so many choose to overnight in the backcountry and camp out along the way. Others just walk a portion of the route, content to take in as much as they can. Everyone comes away quite happy with this adventurous experience.
Canyon Overlook Trail
Short, sweet, and with an amazing payoff would be the best way to describe Canyon Overlook Trail. The route is just 1 mile in length, but it terminates at a cave that hikers will pass through to reach the end of the route. There, they'll discover a breathtaking view of the open canyon below. A favorite with photographers, Canyon Overlook is a great choice for those who have a limited amount of time to spend hiking while in Zion.
The Watchman Trail
One of the more overlooked trails in Zion is the Watchmen route, which is just 3 miles in length, but offers more great views of the valley below. The route does climb about 300 feet in elevation, which makes it moderately-strenuous, but it doesn't summit the Watchman itself, it only provides views of that famous peak. Instead, visitors are treated to a vigorous walk that will take they breath away in more ways than one.
Emerald Pools Trail
One of the best things about the Emerald Pools Trail is that it gives hikers a few options. Travelers can choose to hike to the Lower, Middle, or Upper Emerald Pools depending on the route they choose and how much time they want to spend there. The full walk covers about 3 miles, but passes by, and even through, waterfalls and enchanting water pools along the way.
Thanks to much of the route being paved, the Riverside Walk is one of the most accessible trails in all of Zion, while still offering the incredible views that draw visitors to the park. The route is 2.2 miles in length round-trip and follows a section of the Virgin River all the way up to the start of The Narrows. Towering cliffs add a sense of wonder and adventure to the entire hike, which can even be completed by wheelchair users.
Weeping Rock is another short, and relatively easy, trail for those who are looking for a quick hike in Zion. At just a half-mile in length, it won't take long to walk this trail, but as with the others on this list the payoff is worth it. Weeping Rock ends at large opening carved out of the side of the rock face that features a constantly dripping stream of water down the side. Travelers will also find hanging gardens along the cliffs and a great view of the Zion valley as well.
The Subway is yet another challenging hike that wanders through Zion's maze of slot canyons. Much like the Narrows, this is a significant undertaking for those looking for a truly adventurous backcountry experience. Hiking the 10-mile long Subway route from the top, down is a technical affair, requiring rappelling and canyoneering skills, not to mention plenty of time. Going from the bottom, up is much more approachable, with no shortage of amazing scenery along the way.
If you're looking for one of the most popular viewpoints in all of Zion, you'll want to hike the Observation Point Trail out to its namesake location. The 8-mile hike features more than 2,100 feet of vertical gain, making it a strenuous trek to say the least. That said, the route features one of the most impressive views in the entire park, looking out onto Angel's Landing and much of the rest of the region too. Bring your camera, you're going to want some photos of this one.
West Rim Trail
For those looking for a pure backpacking experience inside Zion, the West Rim Trail is probably their best choice. Stretching for 18 miles in length, it requires two days to complete, with an overnight in the backcountry. The reward is plenty of solitude on the trail and views of the park that most other visitors don't get to take in, including towering waterfalls, sandstone canyons, and more.