18 Apr Top 5 Zion National Park Hikes
So you’re heading to Zion but only have a couple of days to squeeze in as much as you can. Never fear. Over the course of time the Virgin River has been working night-and-day to create the ideal weekend oasis for adventurous souls like yourself. You’re set for an amazing couple of days of exploring and thanks to the shuttle system that the the National Park Service implemented in 2000 getting around Zion is a piece of cake. Simply leave your car at the visitor centre and catch the bus before jumping off at one of the 9 shuttle stops along the canyon floor. Before you know it you’ll be losing yourself on the amazing trails that Zion has to offer. So without further ado here’s our Top 5 Zion National Park Hikes.
5. Pa’rus Trail | 2 Hours Return | 5.6km
Many people are so eager to get to the good stuff that they drive straight past this beautiful 5.6km return walk. The Pa’rus Trail follows the Virgin River from the South Campground to Canyon Junction. This paved trail is ideal for walking, cycling and even for those in a wheelchair. A great option if you’re looking for a gentle stroll to start the day and fifth place in our list of the best Zion National Park Hikes.
4. Lower Emerald Pool Trail | 1 Hour Return | 1.9km
The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is another short walk and we recommend squeezing it in before or after one of the other Zion National Park hikes. Get off the shuttle at Zion Lodge and make your way across the river as you head up to the Lower Emerald Pool. Beautiful waterfalls and pools will await you at your destination. This was our first hike in Zion and by the time we were done we fully appreciated just how incredible Zion is.
3. Canyon Overlook Trail | 1 Hour Return | 1.6km
Canyon Overlook Trail is MUCH quieter than anywhere inside the canyon. Head up the Carmel Hwy and make your way through the tunnel. You’ll find the parking as soon as you exit the tunnel. There are limited spaces and it can be a tricky place to pull over so it might take a few passes before you finally snare a car park. Getting a park is definitely the hardest part of this hike – once you’re on the trail you’ll only have a short hike before you arrive at a spectacular vista. There are steep drop offs on one side which might quicken your heart rate, but there are safety rails in place so even the clumsiest of people should be fine. Canyon Overlook – Number 3 on our list of Best Zion National Park Hikes.
2. The Narrows | 8 Hours Return | 15.1km
Now it’s time to turn our attention to the big boys of Zion. The Narrows and Angel’s Landing are the two essential hikes for the true Zion experience. Just missing out on top spot is The Narrows. Disembark the shuttle at the Temple of Sinawava and follow the masses to the trailhead. Then it’s time to get your feet wet! Wading up the Virgin River and into a giant slot canyon is every bit as exciting as it sounds and easily one of the best Zion National Park Hikes. Be sure to enquire about the weather at the visitor centre before you get started. Flash flooding is a serious risk when dealing with slot canyons and you should make sure conditions are safe before you begin.
Many people hire booties to help keep their feet warm and walking sticks to aid with balance. Although this may be a good option for you we want to make it clear that they’re not necessary. We will say though that if you opt against the gear make sure you’re comfortable with a full day of cold, wet feet! The water level does vary, but we found it hovered around ankle height with occasional pools around waist height. This is a unique hike you will remember for the rest of your life and definitely worth while. Plus you get all sorts of adventure points for hiking up a river, in a giant slot canyon, in the middle of Zion National Park.
#1 on our list of best Zion National Park Hikes…
1. Angels Landing | 4 Hours Return | 8.7km
The winner (and possibly the busiest hike in Zion) has to go to Angel’s Landing. This hike is world famous and everyone’s seen the photos from the top. This hike is often referred to as EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. We don’t think so. We heard of the extreme danger and the fact that 6 people have died on the trail since 2004 made us think twice about doing it. Boy am I glad we didn’t miss out though. Safety chains are in place on all of the sketchy sections and once you reach the summit it’s clear that people of all ages can do this hike.
Angel’s Landing Tourist’s Landing can get EXTREMELY busy! Do not let this discourage you though. Get up early and make sure you’re on your way back down before the masses catch up. Even with dozens of people on the trail this hike is truly remarkable. The trail can be narrow and exposed, but as long as you’re sensible – and your shoes have dried from The Narrows – you’ll be fine. Angel’s Landing is our favourite of the Zion National Park Hikes and one not to be missed.
Check out our Zion National Park gallery for some more photos of this extraordinary place.