JOE’S GUIDE TO ZION NATIONAL PARKCitrusMilo.com
HIKES IN THE GREATER ZION AREA

The awesomeness doesn't just end at the arbitrary borders of Zion National Park. There is a lot of amazing canyon and mountain scenery in the surrounding public lands, many of which are managed by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or the US Forest Service. Some of the hikes below are in popular touristy areas regulated by a permit system; others are in extremely remote wilderness areas where nobody will find you if you become lost or injured. Be sure to read the specifics for each hike below and be respectful of neighboring private lands to ensure future access for others.

KANARRA CREEK (Kanarraville Falls)Kanarra Creek
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.

More beautiful than its sister canyons Spring Creek and Camp Creek, Kanarra Creek is a fairly remote slot canyon located in BLM just east of Kanarraville, accessible via a fairly well-maintained dirt access road going into the Hurricane Cliffs. Resembling a mini version of the Zion Narrows, this canyon has several beautiful slot sections with clear flowing water, glowing red walls, and two challenging boulder obstacles that may block passage. Because of the epic popularity of this canyon, a permit system has been put in place.
Route Information  Photos

SPRING CREEK and SWEETWATER GULCHSpring Creek and Sweetwater Gulch
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.

Spring Creek is a fairly interesting remote canyon in BLM land just north of the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. While not the most beautiful or stunning, this remote canyon is a pleasant day hike if you want to get away from it all. The canyon has a small stream flowing in the bottom half and has several sections that come close to slotting up. Further up, the sand turns more to soil and the canyon becomes fairly overgrown. The golden section of this hike is Sweetwater Gulch -- a beautiful tributary with towering vertical walls on both sides of the canyon.
Route Information  Photos

GRAFTON (Ghost Town)Grafton Ghost Town
Rating: easy family stroll. family-friendly

Located on the southern banks of the Virgin River outside of Zion National Park, the ghost town of Grafton was first settled in 1859. A flood in 1862 and Indian attacks in 1866 helped lead to its eventual abandonment. The site is now maintained by the Grafton Heritage Partnership and includes several historic buildings (several which have been restored) and an old cemetery. A visit to Grafton makes for a pleasant family stroll through history.
Route Information  Photos

EAGLE CRAGS TRAIL (and Lower Mountain)Eagle Crags Trail
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.

If you look south of Springdale, you may notice the jagged rock formations of the Eagle Crags looming in the distance. Located in BLM land south of Rockville, the Eagle Crags Trail is a pleasant half-day hike that approaches and circles east of the Vermilion Cliffs to end just under the imposing Eagle Crags formations. Along the way, you will get good views of the mouth of Zion Canyon to the north and Parunuweap Canyon to the east. And for those looking for something longer and more strenuous, the hike can be extended to reach the top of Lower Mountain.
Trail Information  Photos

WATER CANYON and CANAAN MOUNTAINWater Canyon and Canaan Mountain
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.

Located on BLM land near the Arizona border several miles south of Zion National Park, accessible from behind the remote town of Hildale, Water Canyon is a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the desert. Reminiscent of The Subway, Water Canyon is a narrow canyon with a clever trail that follows the fractures in the west side of the canyon to make its way to the mountains above. Once out of the canyon, Canaan Mountain is a beautiful and wild island in the sky that beckons for exploration.
Route Information  Photos

LA VERKIN OVERLOOK TRAILLa Verkin Overlook Trail
Rating: short moderately strenuous hike.

Roughly 19 miles west of Zion National Park, Route 9 passes through the neighboring towns of Hurricane and La Verkin and ascends the Hurricane Cliffs formations to the east. The La Verkin Overlook Trail is a short old trail on BLM land that skirts the edge of the cliffs and offers good views down into an impressive section of gorge that has been cut by the Virgin River as it flows to the towns below. While this isn't a destination hike for tourists visiting Zion National Park, the viewpoint and trail can be a fun diversion for those looking to do something a little less touristy.
Trail Information  Photos

THE BARRACKS (Upper Parunuweap Canyon)The Barracks (Upper Parunuweap Canyon)
Rating: fairly strenuous river hiking/backpacking.

In BLM territory east of the NPS boundary is a beautiful and remote stretch of canyon known as the East Fork of the Virgin River (aka "the Barracks"). This backpacking route starts off of Route 89 just south of Mt. Carmel Junction and follows the East Fork for almost 20 miles. "The Barracks" refers to the golden section where the walls are tall and narrow, reminiscent of the more popular Zion Narrows (the North Fork). Note: Lower Parunuweap Canyon (inside of the park) is an off-limits Natural Research Area, so the finish to this route escapes up and out by Checkerboard Mesa.
Route Information  Photos

MISERY CANYON (Fat Man's Misery)Misery Canyon (Fat Man's Misery)
Rating: strenuous technical canyoneering route. technical canyoneering route

Misery Canyon is a technical canyon that skirts the eastern border of Zion National Park. Although the canyon is completely outside of the park, the approach hike starts at Checkerboard Mesa Canyon. Misery isn't too technically difficult, but it is a long strenuous day that involves a handful of rappels, many downclimbs, and a few stagnant pools to wade through. The canyon ends in the beautiful Barracks section of the East Fork of the Virgin River (Parunuweap Canyon).
Route Information  Photos

MEADOW CREEK and MINERAL GULCHMeadow Creek and Mineral Gulch
Rating: strenuous hiking/backpacking.

If you have ever driven on Route 9 between Zion National Park's east entrance and Mt. Carmel Junction, you may have noticed the intriguing Meadow Creek and Mineral Gulch canyon systems heading south from the road down into the deep and mysterious Parunuweap Canyon in the distance. While the scenery in Meadow Creek and Mineral Gulch might not be considered stunning, this area offers an interesting desolate hiking experience through some very isolated territory.
Route Information  Photos

POVERTY TRAILPoverty Trail
Rating: fairly strenuous hiking.

Poverty Trail is a starting point that allows you to do the East Fork as a long painful day hike. "Poverty Trail" was originally an old cattle route, but now it's a 4x4 dirt road from Route 9 south into BLM land. A high-clearance vehicle can drive the first few miles of this route but should go no further than the edge of the White Cliffs. The final two miles are quite rugged with deep sand and ATV's seem to rule the land here. This is the quickest, but admittedly the least interesting route into The Barracks.
Trail Information  Photos

Recommended Hikes ->


Hiking symbols used for descriptions:
a Zion classic ZION CLASSIC: a must-do hike if you want to see the best of Zion!
family-friendly FAMILY-FRIENDLY: a good choice for those with children who like to hike.
backpacking route BACKPACKING: a route enjoyable as a multi-day hike.
technical canyoneering or climbing route TECHNICAL: canyoneering or scrambling route requiring technical gear and climbing and/or rappelling experience. Not suitable for casual hikers.
Please note: This web site and all images on this site are the property of Joe Braun ©2019. Unauthorized public or commercial use of any of the images or text on this website without explicit permission is strictly forbidden. View Purchasing and Ordering information!