HIKES IN ZION CANYON

If you are planning to spend the day visiting the popular Zion Canyon either by riding the Zion Canyon Line of the free shuttle bus system or by riding a bike or e-bike up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, there are many great hiking trails to be found at just about every stop from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the end of the line at the Temple of Sinawava. While Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows are the two hikes that get all of the attention, other highlights include Emerald Pools, Riverside Walk, the Watchman Trail, and a leisurely stroll along the Pa'rus Trail. The trails listed below are organized by shuttle stop for easy reference.

1Zion Canyon Visitor Center

The Zion Canyon Shuttle starts at the Visitor Center, located just inside the main south entrance to Zion National Park near Springdale. A queue has been put in place at the stop to help round up the crowds. Also in the vicinity of the Visitor Center are the Watchman Campground, the South Campground, the Pa'rus Trail, and the Watchman Trail.

THE WATCHMAN TRAIL
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike. family-friendlyThe Watchman Trail

Starting in between the Visitor Center and the South Campground, the Watchman Trail is a short trail (roughly 3 miles round-trip) that heads up to a viewpoint on top of the first layer of cliffs roughly 300 feet above the canyon floor. While the trail doesn't actually take you to the top of the Watchman mountain, you can still get a good view of the famous and photogenic peak to the south as well as a good bird's eye view of the whole Visitor Center complex below. This trail is completely exposed to the sun, so during the hot summer months, this hike is best done on a cloudy day or in the morning when this side of the main canyon is still in the shade.
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VISITOR CENTER STROLLS (Archeology Trail, etc.)
Rating: short and easy stroll. family-friendlyArcheology Trail

Located just past the main entrance to Zion National Park north of the town of Springdale, the Visitor Center is the first destination for most tourists entering the park and is also the starting point for the shuttle bus system that takes visitors up Zion Canyon. While many people know of the more popular trails nearby, the Pa'rus Trail and the Watchman Trail, the Visitor Center is also home to a pair of lesser-known strolls: the Archeology Trail and the Virgin River Nature Trail. Both are very short walks that just about anybody can enjoy in a matter of minutes.
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PA'RUS TRAIL
Rating: easy leisurely stroll. family-friendly 1-2-3Pa'rus Trail

The Pa'rus Trail is one of the newer and most accessible trails in Zion National Park. It is the only trail in Zion that is open to bicycles and pets, and it is also one of the few wheelchair-accessible trails in the park. Starting at the South Campground just north of the Visitor Center, this wide, paved trail skirts the Virgin River in the flat and open lower section of Zion Canyon and ends at the Canyon Junction. This trail is great for a leisurely stroll at sunrise or sunset and you are likely to see wildlife both big and small, from butterflies and birds to mule deer.
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2Zion Human History Museum

This stop is less than a mile up the road at the Zion Human History Museum along Route 9. The museum (which was the previous Visitor Center through the 1980s) is open March through November, 10am to 5pm (or 6pm in summer). Behind the museum is a great view of the famous "Towers of the Virgin" and to the east you can catch a glimpse of the Bridge Mountain Arch. A path from the parking lot also connects with the Pa'rus Trail.

3Canyon Junction

This stop is at the junction of Route 9 and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. No private vehicles are allowed to drive up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive while the shuttle busses are in use (except for visitors staying at the Zion Lodge). This stop also provides easy access to the river and is the end of the Pa'rus Trail.

4Court of the Patriarchs

This minor stop has a short path that leads to a viewpoint of the Court of the Patriarchs. Across the road is the path and hikers bridge that leads to the Sandbench Loop horse and foot trail as well as a connector trail to the Emerald Pools Trail.

COURT OF THE PATRIARCHS
Rating: very easy quick family stroll. family-friendlyCourt of the Patriarchs

The Court of the Patriarchs is barely a trail, but it is worth seeing if this is your first trip to Zion. Get off at the Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop and take the two-minute trail up to a little viewpoint above the trees. This spot gives you a fairly unhindered view of several mountains on the west side of the canyon. While there are many better views awaiting you in Zion, this one is worth the ten minutes of effort. Then it's time to get back on the shuttle and move on to more exciting things!
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SAND BENCH TRAIL
Rating: moderately strenuous day hike.Sand Bench Trail/Sand Bench Loop

The Sand Bench Loop is a not-so-loved trail that starts at the Court of the Patriarchs shuttle stop and makes its way up to the top of the "sand bench" -- a massive landslide under the Sentinel that dammed up the main canyon several thousand years ago. While the trail does offer some good views of the surrounding mountains and the main canyon below, the trail is mostly sand and can be very hot and miserable during the summer months. This loop is also the designated trail for guided horseback rides within the park, so while the hike is relatively short, trudging through sand and horse droppings can take a fair amount of effort.
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5Zion Lodge

This is a big stop for the Zion shuttle line where many people will be getting on and off. The Zion Lodge has several restaurants, a gift shop, indoor restrooms, and a grand lawn with a majestic cottonwood tree that invites visitors to stay and relax. Across the road is the start of the Emerald Pools Trail and the horse stables for those looking to ride along the Sandbench Loop. The Grotto Trail also starts here and follows the road to the next stop.

EMERALD POOLS TRAIL
Rating: easy family stroll. a Zion classicfamily-friendlyEmerald Pools Trail

TRAIL BRIDGE CLOSED. Access via shuttle stops 4 and 6. The Emerald Pools Trail is a classic little hike in the heart of Zion Canyon. Starting at the Zion Lodge, this collection of trails crosses the Virgin River and heads back into a large sandstone amphitheater, leading hikers to a lush oasis in the middle of the desert. There are three officially designated areas: the lower, middle, and upper emerald pools, with the most famous waterfalls in the park flowing over the impressive cliffs from the middle to lower pools. NOTE: The hiker's bridge is temporarily closed due to structural damage, but Emerald Pools is still accessible via the longer connecting trails from shuttle stops 4 and 6.
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THE GROTTO TRAIL
Rating: short and easy stroll. family-friendly 5-6Grotto Trail

The Grotto Trail is a short half a mile trail that starts at the Zion Lodge (the 5th stop for the Zion Canyon Shuttle) and ends at the Grotto trailhead and picnic area (the 6th stop). The trail is almost completely level as it follows the canyon floor though a pleasant wooded meadow and then runs alongside the Zion Canyon Road before ending at the Grotto. While this trail is not a destination hike, it makes for a short and pleasant stroll, especially in the morning or early evening hours or on a cloudy day when temperatures are moderate.
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6The Grotto

The Grotto used to be a campground and the site of the original Visitor Center, but now it is an isolated picnic area with a water fountain and primitive bathrooms. It is the starting point for the legendary Angels Landing hike, West Rim Trail, the Kayenta Trail (an alternate approach to the Emerald Pools Trail), and the Grotto Trail that connects back to the Zion Lodge.

ANGELS LANDING
Rating: fairly strenuous and exposed day hike. a Zion classicAngels Landing

PERMIT REQUIRED. If you are looking for the most stunning hike in Zion National Park along a steep and exposed route that involves holding onto chains for protection, then you may have heard of the legendary Angels Landing Trail. Angels Landing is a unique fin-like mountain formation that juts out proudly in the center of Zion Canyon. Back in the 1920s, an ingenious trail was constructed that follows the narrow spine to the viewpoint roughly 1500 feet above the canyon floor, but it is not recommended for anybody who has a fear of heights or has trouble with balance. This hike could be compared to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park; while Angels Landing is a much shorter hike, it is still a strenuous and arguably more intimidating route with non-stop fantastic views.
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WEST RIM TRAIL (Bottom-Up Day Hike)
Rating: fairly strenuous to very strenuous day hike.West Rim Trail

The West Rim Trail is one of the classic backcountry trails in Zion: a 15-mile long trail along the upper west plateau that connects Lava Point (the highest point in Zion) with the Grotto Trailhead in Zion's popular main canyon. Most visitors to Zion are familiar with the lower section of the trail that leads to the famous Angels Landing hike, but those willing to hike further up the trail will be treated to more outstanding views as the clever trail makes its way through the wondrous sandstone formations all the way to the upper plateau.
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KAYENTA TRAIL (to Emerald Pools)
Rating: easy family stroll. a Zion classicfamily-friendly 6-5Emerald Pools Trail

Starting at the Grotto, the Kayenta Trail is a .7-mile stretch of trail that connects to the Emerald Pools Trails. Along the way, the trail ascends a band of cliff and offers wonderful views looking down canyon before turning into the Emerald Pools pantheon. With the hiker's bridge at the Zion Lodge closed due to structural damage (as of spring 2024), this trail is your best bet for hiking to one of Zion's famous Emerald Pools.
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7Weeping Rock  CLOSED

This is a cool stop for a short walk to the lovely Weeping Rock alcove. This also used to be the starting point for many interesting hikes up and out of the east side of the canyon (Observation Point, East Rim Trail, Hidden Canyon, Cable Mountain, and Deertrap Mountain), but a massive landslide in 2019 has closed this trail indefinitely.

WEEPING ROCK
Rating: very easy quick family stroll. a Zion classicfamily-friendlyWeeping Rock

CLOSED DUE TO ROCKFALL. Weeping Rock is a famous landmark of Zion National Park and is an easily accessible tourist attraction. Weeping Rock is a large bowl-shaped alcove where the lower layer of sandstone has eroded away; water that has been slowly descending within the sandstone formations reaches an impermeable layer of rock and is forced out the side causing the "weeping." The weeping walls form a beautifully lush hanging garden with a little flowing stream below. A short 10-minute stroll takes you under the beautiful alcove with wonderful water sprinkling from above.
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OBSERVATION POINT TRAIL (from Weeping Rock)
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.Observation Point

CLOSED DUE TO ROCKFALL. The hike from the Weeping Rock Trailhead to Observation Point is a classic hike in Zion Canyon and the viewpoint at the end of the trail is one of the most iconic in Zion National Park. The Observation Point Trail is a strenuous 8-mile round trip hike along a seemingly unrelenting uphill paved trail that was chiselled out of the canyon walls and cliff formations. Along the way, hikers get a glimpse into the dark and mysterious Echo Canyon with its beautiful dark slot canyon formations and stunning White Cliffs. While this hike isn't as exposed or fear-inducing as Angels Landing, with an elevation gain of over 2,100 feet, Observation Point is a more strenuous hike.
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HIDDEN CANYON
Rating: fairly strenuous day hike.Hidden Canyon

CLOSED DUE TO ROCKFALL. Hidden Canyon gives hikers a taste of canyoneering without requiring any climbing or rappelling to complete the hike. Starting at the Weeping Rock trailhead, hike up the same trail to Observation Point, but take the side trail to Hidden Canyon instead. The somewhat exposed route will lead you to the mouth of Hidden Canyon -- a beautifully narrow canyon "hidden" above the main canyon. The trail officially ends at the mouth of the canyon, but you can explore quite a ways back.
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8Big Bend

This stop isn't the starting point for any featured trails, but you may want to get out to see a good view of the Great White Throne with Angels Landing in the foreground. Climbers can often be spotted making their way up Angels Landing. There is access to the river and trails of use if you want to hike to the previous or next stops.

BANKS of the VIRGIN RIVER
Rating: family-friendly leisurely stroll. family-friendlyBanks of the Virgin River

Flowing through the heart of Zion National Park, the Virgin River is the life force that helps carve out the wondrous landscape. While there are many exciting hikes in the main canyon that take you up to stunning viewpoints or lush oases, sometimes it's fun to just wander around aimlessly along the banks of the Virgin River to enjoy the sound of the water in the open canyon. Two family-friendly options can be found at Canyon Junction and Weeping Rock. The hikes described here don't really have a goal or destination--perfect for anybody looking for a relaxing stroll.
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9Temple of Sinawava

This is the end of the line for the shuttle, a beautifully quiet spot where everybody will want to get out and take a stroll to the river. (Bathrooms and water fountains are available.) This is the starting point for the Riverside Walk and the classic Zion Narrows Day Hike.

RIVERSIDE WALK
Rating: easy family stroll. a Zion classicfamily-friendlyRiverside Walk

The Riverside Walk is a wonderful little hike on a fairly level paved trail that affords great views of the Virgin River and wonderfully lush hanging gardens and trees surrounded by tall weeping walls. This hike is very family friendly: young children and the elderly alike can do this trail, and the trail is also wheelchair accessible. This mostly level hike is roughly two-miles long (round trip) and may take one to two hours to complete (or more if you want to take your time and soak in the views).
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ZION NARROWS DAY HIKE
Rating: moderately strenuous/strenuous river hiking. a Zion classicZion Narrows Day Hike

For tourists or casual hikers who want to see the best of the Zion Narrows, this is the route to do. Starting at the Temple of Sinawava, you can hike up the Riverside Walk trail and then continue hiking right up the river to see some of the best "narrows" sections of the North Fork of the Virgin River. Hike up as far as you want to go and then turn around and retrace your steps. A side hike up Orderville Canyon is also a good detour to see even more amazing slot canyon scenery.
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More Hikes in Zion Canyon ->


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.

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