What are the best hikes in Zion National Park?
Emerald Pools Trail
The Emerald Pools hike is one of the best hiking trails among all national parks. That’s because you’ve got numerous natural pools to explore which makes the hike out of this world. The Lower Emerald Pools are also the site of a beautiful waterfall. The Upper Emerald Pools is a magical world of natural pools, waterfalls, secret rock alcoves, and more. This day hike is one of the most pleasant hikes in Zion.
Watchman Overlook Trail
To get your hiking experience without having to do too much hiking, you can head to the Watchman Trail. The Watchman trail distance is just 3 miles and within that loop, you get to see views of large swaths of the park. You also get a nice comfortable view of Angel’s Landing without having to make the rather scary hike for yourself.
While you hike the Watchman Trail, you get to sneak into another world. You’re surrounded by pink sandstone and babbling brooks as well as greenery worthy of a hobbit forest. You don’t need to take a shuttle to get to this trail. The trail begins just a short walk from the visitor center.
What can you not miss at Zion National Park?
You should visit Wall Street in the Narrows Hike. You will never feel so big and small at the same time. Wall Street in the Narrows is the point where the walls of the canyon come so close together that you’re literally walking through what feels like a tiny slit.
You have to hike along the Virgin River for about 6 miles before you hit the narrowest point, but it is well worth it. As a side note, do not swim in the Virgin River no matter how hot or excited you get. Nor should you drink water from it either.
What hike should I do in Zion?
The most accessible trail at Zion National Park is the Pa’rus Trail. That’s due to its flat landscape which makes it easy for everyone to trek. It is wheelchair accessible and also good for biking or blading.
Regardless of what you’re doing, you’re assured of lovely views on this short hike. You’ll travel down the paved road and go over storybook bridges that cross rivers and through cottonwood forests.
The Pa’rus Trail is located just north of the Visitor’s Center and can be done in less than half a day by almost everyone. The trail is about 3.5 miles long. If you’re at the visitor’s center you don’t need to take a shuttle but if you’re elsewhere, you can hop on the shuttle bus and get off at Shuttle Stop 3 at Canyon Junction.
Other major hikes include Angels Landing, Observation Point, and Emerald Pools which means there are lots of crowds. If you want to have a different sort of experience you can check out Bryce Canyon and Orderville Canyon. These trail canyon hikes will be quieter so you can really experience the ruggedness of Zion.
Which Zion National Park hikes require permits?
The permitting system in Zion can be a little confusing, so we will break it down for you. Basically, with the exception of Angels Landing, (which as of April 1, 2022, requires everyone to have a permit) permits are issued based on your activity.
Permits Required if Canyoneering:
- The Narrows from Top to Bottom (as a day hike)
- The Subway Hike (in either direction)
- Any other technical slot canyon in the park
What is the most dangerous hike in Zion?
The Angels Landing Trail is the most dangerous hike in Zion. It has an incredibly steep climb and the trail leads to a plateau that is more than 1000 feet in the sky. Angels Landing distance is just 2.4 miles one way and you don’t need rock climbing gear but the elevation gain is 1500 feet.
Another reason this trail is a dangerous one in the world of Zion hiking is due to the last part where you have to hold onto chains as you cross. The views from Angel’s Landing are worth it, but only if you can stomach the strenuous climb and views of the drop too.
A close second to that hike is the Bridge Mountain hike. Few visitors ever make it out to Bridge Mountain because its a particularly difficult hike and requires some level of expertise.
There are steep climbs with no chains bolted in to help you along. You have an elevation of around 6800 feet and so it’s clearly not your everyday climb. Bridge Mountain is actually an arch more than it is a bridge and so its name has been changed to Crawford Arch but folks still call it Bridge Mountain.