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

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.Spring Creek and Sweetwater Gulch

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

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

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

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

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.Water Canyon and Canaan Mountain

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

SQUIRREL CANYON (to Water Canyon Arch)
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.Squirrel Canyon to Water Canyon Arch

Also located on BLM land behind the remote town of Hildale, Squirrel Canyon is another notable canyon that provides hikers with access to the Canaan Mountain Wilderness. While neighboring Water Canyon admittedly gets all of the attention due to its more dramatic beauty, a hike up Squirrel Canyon is still a pleasant adventure even if the scenery is a bit more mellow. The route follows an old ATV road alongside Short Creek and Squirrel Creek to join up with the Sawmill Trail on top of Canaan Mountain. Another two miles of hiking treats hikers to wonderful views from the top of the Water Canyon Arch looking down into Water Canyon.
Hiking Guide  Photos

Rating: short moderately strenuous hike.La Verkin Overlook Trail

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

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

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

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

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 from Checkerboard Mesa Canyon within the NPS boundary. While Misery isn't too technically difficult, it is a long strenuous day in a physically demanding slot canyon that involves many downclimbs, a handful of short rappels and chute slides, and a few stagnant pools to wade or swim through. The canyon ends in the beautiful Barracks section of the East Fork of the Virgin River (Parunuweap Canyon) and a long uphill scramble and exit hike take you back out to Checkerboard Mesa.
Canyoneering Guide  Photos

Rating: strenuous technical canyoneering route. technical canyoneering routeMisery Canyon East Fork

While most descend Misery Canyon via the West Fork, the East Fork of Misery Canyon is also an interesting route through a remote and photogenic stretch of slot canyon. Like the standard West Fork route, the approach hike starts from Checkerboard Mesa Canyon within the NPS boundary, but the East Fork makes for a longer and more strenuous day in some very remote territory. Even though there is only one real rappel in the East Fork, it is a physically demanding canyon with many downclimbs, random obstacles, and a few stagnant pools to wade or swim through.
Canyoneering Guide  Photos

Rating: strenuous hiking/backpacking.Meadow Creek and Mineral Gulch

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.
Hiking Guide  Photos

Rating: fairly strenuous hiking.Poverty Trail

Located roughly 2.8 miles east of the Zion National Park border, "Poverty Trail" is a nickname for an old cattle trail that heads south from Route 9 into BLM land to reach the East Fork of the Virgin River. These days, it is part of a network of ATV tracks that wander around the edge of the White Cliffs with the final mile being limited to foot and horse travel only. This route may be considered a shortcut versus hiking in from Mt. Carmel Junction, but it is still a long trek and admittedly the least interesting route into the Barracks.
Hiking Guide  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 Photography ©2024. Unauthorized public or commercial use of any of the images or text on this website without explicit permission is strictly forbidden.