If you’re after inspiring canyon landscapes, great campgrounds, and a challenging hike or two, Utah’s Zion National Park has your name written all over it. The oldest and most popular of the five national parks in Utah, Zion National Park draws in more than 3 million visitors each year. There’s obviously a reason for the park’s popularity: its truly magnificent scenery.
Zion Canyon is one of the most impressive canyons I’ve ever seen. It’s no surprise that the earliest Mormon settlers compared it to the biblical place of Zion and gave prominent rock formations names such as the Court of the Patriarchs and Angels Landing.
Hikers will be in heaven in Zion as well. The park is home to several well-maintained hiking trails, and there are nine different trails in Zion Canyon alone. Their trailheads are reachable on the Zion Canyon Shuttle in the high season and with your own car in the quieter months. We spent three full days in Zion National Parks a few weeks ago, exploring as much of the park on foot as we could. The following are what I consider the five best hikes in Zion National Park. Of these five hikes, the first two are absolute must-do hikes. They’re phenomenal.
Probably the 5 Best Hikes in Zion National Park
1. Observation Point via East Rim Trail
The East Rim Trail climbs steeply to a rim of Zion Canyon, squeezing through scenic Echo Canyon on the way. This challenging day hike leads to the appropriately named Observation Point, which is in my opinion the greatest view anywhere in Zion Canyon.
Roundtrip distance: 8 miles (12.9 kilometers)
Duration: four to six hours, depending on your fitness level
2. Angels Landing via West Rim Trail
The most popular of all hikes in Zion National Park, this one takes adventurous and steel-nerved hikers to the top of Angels Landing. You can reach this towering rock formation via a series of numerous switchbacks, followed by a traverse of a sometimes ridiculously narrow and steep ridge.
Steel cables and chains offer welcome assistance on this spectacular ascent. If you’re planning on tackling Angels Landing, make sure you have additional protection from a service like MedjetAssist. It’s a steep, difficult, and occasionally dangerous trail.
Roundtrip distance: 5.4 miles (8.7 kilometers)
Duration: three to five hours, depending on your fitness level and the number of hikers
3. Pa’rus Trail
After the two busy, thigh-burning, and nerve-wracking hikes above, the Pa’rus Trail offers welcome relaxation and quiet contemplation. This easy paved trail runs along the scenic Virgin River. It’s suitable for wheelchairs, bikes, and strollers.
Roundtrip distance: 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers)
Duration: two hours
4. Watchman Trail
With a trailhead located between the South and Watchman Campgrounds, the Watchman Trail is one of the classic sunset hikes in Zion National Park. This moderate trail ends at a lookout point at the base of the Watchman, where views include Springdale, lower Zion Canyon, and the Towers of the Virgin.
Roundtrip distance: 3.3 miles (5.3 kilometers)
Duration: two hours
5. Hidden Canyon Trail
The first short section of this trail overlaps with the East Rim Trail before splitting off to the right. A steep trail that’s not recommended for people who have fear of heights, it follows a sheer cliff face to the mouth of a beautiful narrow canyon.
Roundtrip distance: 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers)
Duration: two to two and a half hours