Utah has some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the entire United States. As a matter of fact, this one state is home to five amazing national parks, also known as the “Mighty 5.” That said, the most visited national park of the Mighty 5 is the gorgeous Zion National Park. With its bright red rocks, thriving green plants, and flowing blue rivers, Zion National Park is picture-perfect. And the best way to get an up-close view of all of these stunning landscapes is by hiking. The best hikes in Zion National Park take you around rivers, past towering trees, and through canyons, so you’ll constantly be in awe of the natural beauty of the park.
*Pro Tip: Like all national parks in the United States, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to visit Zion National Park. If you plan on visiting a few different national parks during your trip, you may want to consider buying the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass instead.
No list of the best hikes in Zion National Park would be complete without Angels Landing. This is by far the most iconic trail in the park. And thanks to its natural red rock formations and breathtaking views, there’s no question of why it’s so popular.
Even though Angels Landing is a very popular hike, it’s surprisingly difficult. Over the 4.3 kilometres (one-way), you’ll need to tackle 457 metres of elevation gain. And that’s on top of the strong winds, narrow ridges, and steep drops.
But all of the effort is worth it in the end. When you reach the peak of Angels Landing, you’ll be absolutely stunned by the views. The natural red rock landscape dotted in bright green trees is definitely postcard-worthy.
It is important to note that you now need a special permit to hike Angels Landing. This set-up was put in place in order to reduce the number of people on the trail and help preserve the stunning landscape. These permits are only issued by an online lottery system, so keep your fingers crossed!
Elevation gain: 457 m (1500 ft)
One-way distance: 4.3 km (2.7 mi)
Roundtrip distance: 8.7 km (5.4 mi)
Estimated time: 4 hours
Navigate your way to the “Angels Landing Trailhead.”
Like Angels Landing, the Narrows is another famous hike that has to be featured on this list. It’s undoubtedly one of the best hikes in Zion National Park – and one of the most unique. As you tackle this trail, you’ll be closely following the Virgin River through the Narrows of Zion Canyon. As a matter of fact, you’ll likely be wading through the river at multiple points during your trek.
There are two different ways to hike The Narrows. The first and most popular option is from the bottom-up, which means you’ll start at the Riverside Walk and end at Big Springs. (Technically, you can continue past Big Springs, but you’ll need a special permit for that.)
This bottom-up option is about 16 kilometres long, and it’s a fantastic way to experience The Narrows. In addition to wading in the Virgin River and gaping in awe at the tall canyon walls, you’ll get to squeeze through the famous Canyon section known as Wall Street.
The other option for hiking The Narrows is from the top-down. This option is 25.7 kilometres long, which means you’ll either have a super long day hike or an overnight hiking experience. That said, it’s more than worth it if you’re a nature-loving adventurer. As you wind your way through the canyon walls and along the Virgin River, you’ll be amazed by the massive size of the canyon and the beauty of nature. Bottom line: it’s one of the most spectacular hikes out there.
*Note: The Narrows is prone to flash flooding. Be sure to check for flash flood warnings before you begin hiking The Narrows.
Elevation gain: up to 152 m (up to 500 ft)
One-way distance: 8 km to 12.9 km (5 mi to 8 mi)
Roundtrip distance: 16 km to 25.7 km (10 mi to 16 mi)
Estimated time: 3 hours to 2 days
For the bottom-up option, you can begin your hike at the Temple of Sinawava parking lot. For the top-down option, you’ll want to start at Chamberlain’s Ranch (which is technically outside of Zion National Park).
Emerald Pools Trail
The Emerald Pools Trail is undoubtedly one of the best hikes in Zion National Park, because it has something for everyone. Thanks to how the path is set up, you can choose to make this hike an easy stroll, a moderate workout, or a difficult challenge.
There are three pools along the Emerald Pools Trail, appropriately named the Lower Pool, the Middle Pool, and the Upper Pool. At each of these spots, you’ll be able to see lovely little natural pools surrounded by the bright red canyon walls. They’re definitely cool sights to see.
*Note: Please avoid swimming in or walking through each of the three pools. This is the best way to preserve them for future hikers to admire.
Elevation gain: up to 123 m (up to 400 ft)
Distance (same for one-way and roundtrip, since it is a loop trail): 1.9 km to 4 km (1.2 mi to 2.5 mi)
Estimated time: 1 hour to 4 hours
Navigate yourself to “Emerald Pools Trail Parking.”
Canyon Overlook Trail
The Canyon Overlook Trail is often overlooked in favour of Angels Landing and The Narrows, but it’s incredible. It’s short and sweet, which is perfect for hikers looking for views but not a workout.
After tackling just 0.8 kilometres (one-way), the Canyon Overlook Trail rewards hikers with some of the most amazing views in the entire park. As the name of the hike implies, you’ll get an unobstructed view of Zion Canyon. Needless to say, you’ll be taking quite a few photos.
Elevation gain: 30 m (100 ft)
One-way distance: 0.8 km (0.5 mi)
Roundtrip distance: 1.6 km (1 mi)
Estimated time: 1 hour
Make your way to the “Canyon Overlook Trailhead.”
The Watchman, also known as The Watchman Overlook Trail, is another relatively short hike. Yet despite being only 4.3 kilometres round-trip, there’s so much to see on this wonderful trail that is one of the best easy hikes in Zion.
Like a couple of the other hikes on this list, The Watchman follows a section of the Virgin River. But that actually isn’t the highlight of The Watchman. That title goes to the stunning mountain peaks surrounding the trail, including Bridge Mountain and The Watchman (Yes, it’s a mountain with the same name. It gets a little confusing.). If you look far enough, you’ll even be able to see the Towers of the Virgin, a set of sandstone monoliths that seem to stretch up towards the sky.
Elevation gain: 122 m (400 ft)
One-way distance: 2.1 km (1.3 mi)
Roundtrip distance: 4.3 km (2.7 mi)
Estimated time: 2 hours
Plug in “The Watchman Trail” into your navigation app of choice. It should be right behind the Zion National Park Visitor Center.
The Pa’rus Trail is a lovely, accessible hike in Zion National Park. This paved path is perfect for wheelchairs, bikes, and more, so everyone can enjoy the natural beauty of the trail.
This lovely trail basically follows the Virgin River. In other words, you’ll get to watch the flowing water throughout your hiking adventure. But that’s certainly not all! You’ll also get glimpses of loads of rock structures and mountains, including Bridge Mountain, The Watchman, and the West Temple.
Elevation gain: 48 m (157 ft)
One-way distance: 2.8 km (1.7 mi)
Roundtrip distance: 5.6 km (3.5mi)
Estimated time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
The easiest way to access the Pa’rus Trail is by heading to the Zion National Park Visitor Center. From there, you can make your way to the South Campground and then to the official start of the Pa’rus Trail.
Taylor Creek Trail
Taylor Creek Trail is one of the more hidden gems of Zion National Park. It’s located in the lesser-known Kolob Canyon section.
After 4 kilometres (one-way) and quite a few river crossings, you’ll find yourself at the Double Arch Alcove. This small, cave-like area is naturally streaked with loads of different colours, including shades of green, brown, white and black. It’s unlike anything else in Zion National Park.
As an added bonus, there are also a couple of historic homestead cabins for you to take a peek at on the Taylor Creek Trail.
Elevation gain: 180 m (590 ft)
One-way distance: 4 km (2.5 mi)
Roundtrip distance: 8 km (5 mi)
Estimated time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Make your way to the “Taylor Creek Trailhead.”
And there you have it! The best hikes in Zion National Park! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Interested in visiting more National Parks? Here are 9 Epic Places to Road Trip to on the West Coast This Summer.