The best Zion National Park hikes

From Angels Landing to the Narrows, you’re spoilt for spectacular choices.
view of zion national parl central canyon

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There are hikes, and then there are Zion National Park hikes.

Soaring red cliffs and lush valley floors are the bare and brilliant backdrop for some of the country’s most thrilling trails. The park caters to a staggering range of adventurers, from casual nature strolls to gravity-defying bouldering routes—sure to win the hearts of all who visit.

Unlike some other parks, however, Zion requires a little prior planning. For much of the year, accessing the trailheads with a personal vehicle is impossible. A park shuttle solves the problem, but visitors must know which trail they’re heading for before grabbing a ride.

To help, we’ve done a deep dive into the best Zion National Park hikes.

Happy Trails.

Angels Landing

Shuttle Stop: The Grotto
Difficulty: Strenuous and dangerous
Popularity: Extremely popular – permit required
Distance: 5.5 miles roundtrip
The rundown: Often touted as one of the greatest day hikes in the world, Angels Landing is stupendous.

Famously intimidating, what begins as a pleasant and gentle hike quickly transforms into a string of steep cutbacks along the east wall of the cliff. A rapid incline with steep drops just feet away is only made more comforting by the presence of a heavy metal chain. Beyond the ascent, climbers are met with a devastatingly narrow stone staircase that traces the crest of a knife-edge ridge. Both sides have sheer drops. Those who make it are rewarded 360-degree vistas of the valley and bragging rights over all those who turned back, stomachs churning a little too much.

The Angels Landing hike is not for everyone. If you’re new to hiking, give it a miss, and you should leave children at home too. If you want to climb, you’ll need a permit. Places are distributed via a lottery system, so plan well ahead. Despite the lottery, the trail can still be busy, triggering tailbacks on the scariest points.

The Narrows

Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava
Difficulty: Moderate level of fitness required
Popularity: Popular
Distance: 5-9 miles out and back, depending on turn-back points
The rundown: On the opposite end of the spectrum is The Narrows hike. Whereas Angels Landing takes you skywards, The Narrows lets you appreciate the National Park’s scale from its lower reaches.

Much of the route meanders through mesmerizing rock formations, forging great tunnels and 1,000-foot walls on either side—this section is amusingly nicknamed Wall Street. The most unique aspect of this hike is that it’s almost entirely in water. While you won’t be swimming, you will be wading, which adds to the required effort. Make sure to pack waterproof hiking boots, not hiking sandals.

As one of the best Zion National Park hikes, it’s very popular. But unlike Angels Landing, it doesn’t require a permit. Do check for closures before your visit, however, as rangers will close the trail if water levels are too high.

Emerald Pools Trail

Shuttle Stop: Zion Lodge
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Popularity: Very popular
Distance: 1.2, 2, or 2.5-mile roundtrip, depending on the choice
The rundown: If scaling thousand-foot cliffs or wading through miles of river isn’t your cup of tea, the Emerald Pools Trail is among the best Zion National Park hikes for you.

The path is well-trodden, and the lower pool route is even wheelchair accessible. There are three stunning green pools filled over the ages by trickling water from the rock formations above. Visiting all three requires a 2.5-mile roundtrip, while the first pool will only be a 1.2-miler. 

Don’t assume that its accessibility means it’s any less spectacular. Hikers on the Emerald Pools Trail are gifted stunning views of the valley, unique geoformations, and of course, the pools themselves. Just don’t swim in them. If you’re short on time or bringing kids along, this is an excellent choice. 

Canyon Overlook Trail

Shuttle Stop: Private vehicle parking only, get there early
Difficulty: Easy
Popularity: Very popular
Distance: 1-mile roundtrip 
The rundown: Another easy option best suited for a quick visit to the park. Despite being only a mile long, this comfortable roundtrip takes in some of the signature views of the park, including the Great Arch, Pine Creek slot canyon, and the imposing Towers of the Virgin.

Canyon Overlook is only accessed from Highway 9, so you’ll need your own vehicle to get there. Its popularity means it can be jam-packed, and if you’re not there early enough, you’ll be unlikely to find a space.

Observation Point

Shuttle Stop: Weeping Rock
Difficulty: Moderately challenging (those with a fear of heights, consider if it’s for you)
Popularity: Popular
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
The rundown: Observation Point is one of the best Zion National Park hikes, offering a delightfully challenging ascent from the valley floor to the soaring ridges above and gifting the best of all aspects of the park.

Its initial ascent is a tantalizing switchback climb, walled in by a grand natural amphitheater that’s been etched away by the river over millions of years. Once at the top, hikers are met with deep sand, staggering cliff views, and a trademark look-back along the canyon itself. You’ll need to be in shape, but there are no technical aspects of the route.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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