The Best Hikes in Zion National Park

The Best Hikes in Zion National Park

Zion National park has some of the best hikes in the country. There are hiking trails for families and adventure seekers alike. Located in the state of Utah in the southwest of the United States. This park is packed full of adventure, hiking trails, nature walks, and beautiful vistas like you’ve never seen. I’ve explored many national parks around the world, and every once in a while, my expectations get blown out of the water by some unexpectedly beautiful destination.

Go on an East Zion Crimson Canyon Hike & UTV Adventure

The trails in Zion National Park vary from short interpretive trails to long day hikes. The park protects a crucial landscape of habitats for rare and endangered species like mountain lions, falcons, elk, hummingbirds, and even tarantulas! EEK! Part of Zion’s uniqueness comes from its geology, it’s basically stacked prehistoric environments that eroded into different types of soils becoming the towering canyons.

These are the best hiking trails in Zion National Park

Never had I imagined a landscape could be so unique, wild, and stunning. Today, Zion preserves 229 square miles of red rock landscape that’s so stunning it looks surreal.  This hiking guide will take you through all the unique ecosystems of the park. Check out my one-day guide to Zion National Park which includes more trail suggestions for your visit to make the most of your time in the park. I hope you enjoy your time there as much as we did!

Zion National Park Sign

Park Information

Zion National Park charges a fee for entry – as do all of the United States National Parks. Fees for Zion are listed below.

  • Vehicle –  $35 USD
  • Motorcycle – $30 USD
  • Foot, Bike – $20 USD
  • Annual National Park Pass – $80 USD *this is the most bang for your buck if you are planning on exploring Bryce or other nearby national parks*
  • There is little to no cell phone service inside the park
The Best Hiking Trails in Everglades National Park
These are the best hiking trails in Zion National Park

The elevation of Zion National Park is 4,000 feet above sea level. So that’s fantastic. No elevation sickness for me, yay! Zion is in an active volcanic field called Santa Clara. Eruptions in this field are typically one every few 10,000 years. Most of the rocks in Zion National Park are sedimentary rocks –made of bits and pieces of older rocks that have been weathered, eroded, and deposited in layers.

These rock layers of ancient environments and inhabitants are very different from those found in Zion today. Millions of years ago Zion and the Colorado Plateau were near sea level. The rock layers found in Zion today were deposited between approximately 110 –270 million years ago –only in recent geologic time have they been uplifted and eroded to form the scenery of Zion National Park. See the park from the air on this 55 Mile – Helicopter Tour Around Zion National Park.

These are the best hiking trails in Zion National Park

easy Hiking Trails in zion national park

  • The Zion Narrows Riverside Walk – 2.2 mi/3.5 km, est 1.5 hrs
  • Lower Emerald Pool Trail – 1.4 mi/1.9 km, est 32 min
  • Pa’rus Trail – 3.5 mi/5.6 km, est 2 hrs
  • Weeping Rock Trail – 0.4 mi/0.6 km, est 30 min
  • Zion Grotto Trail – 1 mi/1.6 km, est 30 min

everglades national park trails
Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping Rock Trail

Prepare to get a little wet – these rocks weep.

At 0.3 miles, the Weeping Rock trail is the shortest hike in Zion National Park. High on the plateaus surrounding Weeping Rock, rain and melting snow seep into Navajo sandstone and is slowly filtered through the rock. once the water reaches a layer of stone that it cannot pass through, it is forced out of the side of the cliff forming a spring. The springs at weeping Rock provide a constant supply of water to the area creating lush hanging gardens and a small desert oasis for wildlife. Stand behind the dripping water and look out to view the Great White Throne.

Riverside Walk

The Zion Narrows Riverside Walk

This is the gateway to “the famous narrows”. Start on a paved trail that follows the Virgin River into a deep canyon. The first 0.4 miles are wheelchair accessible but could be sandy. This route starts at the end of the ZION Canyon Scenic Drive. The Riverside Walk Trail is relatively easy out and back that ends at the riverbank. If you continue further through the river, you will then be in the narrows.

Emerald Pools Trail

Emerald pool TrailS


Several hiking options are available at the Emerald Pool Trails in Zion, ranging from short and easy to strenuous and steep. Two trails start at the trailhead, the Lower and the Middle. The trail to the lower Pool is just over half a mile long, wandering along the bottom of the river through the riparian habitat. The best part about this hiking trail in Zion is that you pass underneath two waterfalls that come from the Middle Pool above.

Lower Emerald Pool Trail – easy, est1 hour, 1.2 mi (1.9 km)

Follows the bottom of the canyon to Lower Emerald Pool, which is located at the base of a cliff. Two small streams spread across the cliff face and trickle into the pools. From the lower pool, you can climb a steep route and connect with the Middle Trail.

Middle Emerald Pool Trail – Moderate, est 1.5 hours, 2.2 mi 3.5 km)

climbs the ridge to a string of viewpoints above the lower pool. You can also reach the Middle Trail viewpoints from The Grotto via the Kayenta Trail. From the Middle Trail, a steep trail continues up the canyon up to the Upper Pool.

Upper Emerald Pool Trail – Moderate, est 1 hour, 1 mi (1.6 km)

Larger, with a high waterfall coming into it from a towering cliff. During runoff, that waterfall can be very dramatic. All trails are clearly marked and easy to follow. The Upper Trail is steep and sandy and has some eroded spots.

Moderate Hikes in Zion National Park

The Best Hikes in zion national park: Moderate Hiking trails

  • Canyon Overlook- est 1 hr, 1 mi/1.6 km
  • Watchman Trail – est 2 hrs, 3.3 mi/5.3 km
  • Middle Emerald Pool – 1.5 hr, 2.2 mi/3.5 km
  • Upper Emerald Pool – 1 hr, 1 mi/1.6 km

Canyon Overlook Trail

Canyon Overlook trail

Best Spot in zion to watch the Sunset

Canyon Overlook was one of my favorite trails that we hiked in Zion National Park. The sun just started setting on the mountains as we ascended the 1-mile hike, covering the valley with a warm honey glow. Rocks along the trail caught the light and lit up like fire in the desert, and we arrived at the summit just in time to see the sunset over the valley. Talk about breathtaking. If you’re looking for the best spots in Zion to watch the sunset, this is it!

If you want to explore the canyons further, try out this East Zion 4-Hour Slot Canyon Canyoneering UTV Tour

Canyon Overlook Trail

recommended Difficult hikes in Zion National Park

  • Scout Lookout via West Rim Trail – 3 hrs, 4.2 mi/6.2 km
  • The Narrows – Up to 8 hrs, 9.4 mi/15.1 km
  • Angels Landing – 5-6 hrs, 5.4 mi/8.7 km

Coming from Las Vegas? Consider this Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks Small Group Tour from Las Vegas

Angels Landing Hike

made it on the world’s most dangerous trails list

Zion’s Angels Landing provides spectacular views, but it’s also one of the world’s most dangerous hikes. Towering over the valley and jutting into the canyon, Angels Landing stands 1,488 feet above the Virgin River at its base. The 5.4-mile round trip hike might seem easy peasy, but take into consideration the long steep switchbacks over sand and slick rock, and the trail is more difficult than it seems. Long drop-offs and exposed edges surrounding you along the trail are dangerous but if you come prepared and hike safely, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view that is out of this world. 

Everyone who hikes Angels Landing needs to have a permit. You can apply for a permit to Angels Landing on the NPS website.

In my opinion, Angels Landing is one of the best hiking trails in Zion National Park. The views overlook the canyon the entire way, just getting more and more beautiful the further up you go. The trail typically has heavy traffic and can be quite busy, but we never felt overcrowded (this was before permits were required in 2016). Most people make this their first hike after entering the park because it’s the most popular, so get to the trailhead early to beat the crowds.

The Narrows

A Zion hiking trail like no other

Perhaps one of the most unique hiking trails in Zion National Park, the narrows pick up where the Riverside Walk ends. Continue past the walkway directly into the river and continue deeper into the canyon. This part of the narrows requires you to walk through the river which can get deep, with no side beaches to avoid getting wet. It’s HIGHLY recommended you bring a walking stick and water shoes to avoid falling or hurting yourself.

If you have a backpack you might need to carry it over your head at certain points. The trail goes as far as 9.4 mi/15.1 km and can take as long as 8 hours but you don’t need to go that far if you don’t want to, a lot of people just turn back when they’re ready. We went about 2 miles in and out and still had gorgeous views the whole way.

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The Best Hikes in Zion National ParkThe Best Hikes in Zion National ParkThe Best Hikes in Zion National Park