Zion National Park is located in red rock filled southern Utah. Inside the park you’ll find hiking trails that range from easy to strenuous, a historic lodge and cabins as well as wildlife and stunning rock formations. Like most national parks one trip just isn’t enough. If you’re short on time and wondering which trails to explore I’ve put together a few reviews from my fellow outdoor bloggers to get you started. I’ve organized the descriptions from easy to strenuous, so if you’re looking for a big adventure I encourage you to scroll down to get the information you’re looking for. I promise I don’t mind. Check out the best hikes in Zion below.
Best Easy Hike in Zion: Riverside Walk
Difficulty: easy (paved trail, wheelchair accessible)
Length: 2.2 miles
Elevation change: 57 feet
If you’re looking for a truly family friendly hike this is the best hike in Zion for you. To get there simply take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava, which is the last stop on the route.
The trail is smooth and paved, making it accessible to wheelchairs, those with mobility issues, strollers, dogs, bikes, and little feet. While a paved trail might seem boring, the park has installed several exhibits along the way to help you learn about the surrounding geology, wildlife and water features. As you walk you can enjoy views of the Virgin River, the canyon’s weeping walls and many hanging gardens.
Along the way you might start to notice wet footprints and people walking back to the start in soggy shoes and clothing. This will all become clearer as you approach the turn around point of the trail. The Riverside Walk leads to the beginning of The Narrows, a much more strenuous hike that’s covered later in this post.
Best Moderate Hike in Zion: Emerald Pools
Length: 1-3.6 miles (depending on route)
Elevation change: 69-402 feet (depending on route)
This hike is highly dependent on the waterfall conditions, so check with the rangers before you go. If the water isn’t flowing, or only very light you might want to pass. This is a pretty hike but I just don’t feel it showcases the best of what Zion has to offer if the water isn’t flowing.
The lower trail is a nice gentile sandy path through the trees with the tall canyon walls above you. Birds flit about and bold squirrels dart around the trail.
You may hear the first pool before you reach it. Often there are one or more waterfalls trickling down the canyon wall. You can look from a distance or walk right under them, but watch your footing and your gear because the trail is usually wet and sometimes you have to walk through the mist.
The middle pool is a bit farther on, up above the overhang of the lower falls, which it feeds. It is often a good for place for catching reflections and peeking out at the valley. You will have to cross a spot that is often muddy to proceed to the final pool.
A bit more climbing up will take you to the final pool. This pool is at the foot of a sheer multicolored cliff and if you are very lucky there may be a waterfall here as well.
Things to consider:
- Algae colors the pools and the pigment varies depending on the time of year.
- Due to the accessibility this can be one of the more crowded hikes.
Patricia is the blogger behind Savvy Exploring. While working full time she blogs evenings and weekends, with website help from her husband and foot warming from their pup. Her goal is to show that, with a little planning, you don’t have to be rich or rough it to travel the world. Check out her itineraries page to start planning your next adventure.
Toughest Hike in Zion: Angels Landing
Length: 5.4 miles
Elevation change: 1488 feet
The angels landing hike is probably one of the most iconic hikes in Zion National Park, and for a good reason. The angels landing hike is an out-and-back kind of hiking trail that is a steep uphill hike with breathtaking views of Zion National Park. In order to reach these views though, you must be willing to hike over 2.5 miles (5 miles roundtrip) and 1,800 feet up a series of steeply graded switchbacks, and along a scarier narrow trail toward the final half of the hike.
This narrow path to the top of Angels Landing is part of what makes this hike so classic, but if you are afraid of heights it will certainly make your heart flutter. The trail is also very popular, so not only must you learn to battle the fear of heights you might experience, but you must learn to share the trail with a continuous flow of hikers. There are chains and safeguards in place along the trail though, so that if you take your time, mind your step and remember to breathe, it could quite possibly become one of your favorite hikes of all time.
Pro Tip: If you are visiting Zion in the summer, this area can get very hot. This kind of heat can cause extreme heat exhaustion, which would be really dangerous to experience on this hike. If you want to do this hike in the summer, make sure to wake up very early in the morning to tackle it when the temperatures are cooler, and bring plenty of water. You’ll want to bring a backpack with you too so you can remain hands free while hiking the narrow portion of the trail.
Allison is the founder and primary voice behind She Dreams of Alpine, where she teaches others about backpacking, rock climbing, and how to truly step into their own unique courage and become confident, self-sufficient, and brave outdoor adventurers. She believes that each one of us has the potential to break through physical feats we once thought were impossible, and that outdoor adventure is the ultimate self-discovery tool.
Most Adventurous Hike in Zion: The Narrows
Length: 9.4 miles
Elevation change: 334 feet
One of the most diverse hikes in Zion is the famous Narrows. The Narrows is a hike through the Virgin River. That’s right, you are hiking right through the river. On our Utah National Park road trip this hike was on the top of our bucket list because of its unique nature!
On this hike you are deep in a narrow canyon carved out by the river. The walls along the Virgin River reach 1000 feet into the sky. The canyon walls are nature’s art, the colors in the rock layers polished by centuries of erosion are amazing.
It is possible for any skill level to have a memorable hike in the Narrows. Hiking the full 16 miles is a challenging 2 day backcountry trip. For a low difficulty hike, start at the Temple of Sinawava. Here you will find children and seniors alike wadding in the water as they move up the canyon corridor. The deeper you go into the canyon the more challenging the hike. We happily hiked several miles and found the crowds really thinned out.
You will need special equipment to hike the Narrows. At minimum a walking stick is advised to keep you steady in the rapidly moving water. Thin water shoes or sandals don’t work very well here because of the sandy and rocky river bottom. You can rent special shoes in the town of Springdale, or use an old pair of shoes like we did. Any time other than the heat of summer dry suits are basic equipment when wading through the cold snow melt river.
The Narrows are closed to hiking if current speed is extremely high or if there is a risk of flash flooding. This is posted at the visitor center shuttle stop as well as at the Temple of Sinawava.
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