If you are just in Zion for one day, you may want to focus on Zion Canyon, as it is the most accessible area of the park. There are so many great trails in Zion Canyon that no matter which one(s) you decide to take, you are sure to have a spectacular experience. For a more comprehensive list, check out our list of the best hikes in Zion, sorted by category. To stay up-to-date on trail closures in the park, you can read Zion’s current conditions. Below are the best hikes in Zion Canyon:
1. OBSERVATION POINT: This is one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes in Zion National Park. The trailhead for Observation Point is located at shuttle stop #7. At 8 miles roundtrip, and 2,000 feet of elevation gain, you will hike switchbacks through sandstone, providing you will incredible and panoramic views of the canyon below. Once you reach the top, you will be standing across the canyon, looking down 700 feet on the infamous Angel’s Landing.
2. ANGEL’S LANDING: Angel’s Landing is the most iconic trail in Zion National Park. The trail begins at shuttle stop #6, The Grotto. Switchbacks define the trail for the first 2 miles, taking you into the chilly and shaded "Refrigerator Canyon", and then to Walter’s Wiggles—21 tight and steep switchbacks up to Scout’s Lookout. Here, at Scout’s Lookout, is a flat and broad overlook into the canyon, and is a great turnaround spot for hikers who want to skip the chains up to Angel’s Landing. The last half mile (although it seems like much longer) to Angel’s Landing is along the narrow spine of a ridgeline. Chains are bolted into the rock to assist hikers; this trail is for the adventurous thrill-seeker. At the top of Angel’s Landing, you are rewarded with a 360 degree of the canyon below you.
3. EMERALD POOLS: This is a great trail for those seeking a short stroll, or for those who want a longer and more strenuous loop trail, as there are three pools along the Emerald Pools Trail. A short, half mile trail takes you to the falls of Lower Emerald Pools; from here, you can continue to the top of the falls at Middle Emerald Pools. And for the adventure-seekers, you can climb the stairs to Upper Emerald Pools, then continue to the Kayenta Trail to turn this into a loop.
4. CANYON OVERLOOK TRAIL: The Canyon Overlook Trail is on the east side of Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, and looks down on Zion Canyon—as it’s name suggests. Short and sweet, the trail is just one mile roundtrip and gains only 100 feet of elevation from the parking area to the overlook. From the top, you are at a great vantage point to take in the expanse of Zion Canyon.
5. WATCHMAN OVERLOOK TRAIL: One of the best things about this trail is how close the trailhead is—simply walk across the road from the Visitor Center to the Watchman’s Campground to where the Watchman Overlook Trail begins. The trail is 3 miles roundtrip and only has 500 feet of elevation gain, making it suitable for all ages and abilities. You will be walking through massive cottonwoods, and next to a flowing spring. Eventually, the loop will take you to incredible views of Observation Point and Angel’s Landing to the north, and the Watchman to the south.
6. THE NARROWS: To access the Narrows, you can either hike from the bottom up, or from the top down. The Narrows is most easily accessed from the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava, from here, you can hike as far as you want through the Virgin River into the most narrow canyon in Zion National Park. The massively towering walls rise thousands of feet above you, and the river can grow up to 30 feet wide. Read "How To Hike The Narrows" for more information.
7. THE PA’RUS TRAIL: The Pa’rus Trail is mostly flat, making it accessible for families, wheelchairs, biking, and pets on leashes. To get to the trailhead from the Visitor Center, cross the road toward Watchman’s Campground and over the bridge is the trailhead. You can also access it from shuttle stop #3 if you are already in the canyon. The Pa’rus Trail takes you along the river and presents you with some of the best views of the towering features in the park. Roundtrip, this trail is 3.5 miles long.