The best way to explore Zion National Park is by hiking one of its many trails. You’ll find hikes appropriate for people of all ages and abilities, from ADA-accessible hikes to strenuous hikes that require technical skills such as rappelling and bouldering. Here’s a list of our favorite hikes in the park.
1. Angel's Landing
Angel's Landing might be the most iconic trail in the entire park, and it should definitely be on most Uahns' bucket lists. The hike is five miles long, and considered strenuous. While the final approach to the summit gets all the attention (it's both steep, with sharp drop-offs on both sides, and incredibly scenic), most of the hike involves switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles that take you up the mountain. You'll gain elevation quickly, and will also have full sun exposure for much of the way, so bring plenty of water. This one isn't for folks who are afraid of heights, or have heart conditions.
2. Riverside Walk
Riverside Walk is likely the most popular hike in Zion. The shuttle takes you right to the trail head, and the trail itself is flat, paved and accessible to most. This trail is typically crowded with tourists during summer months, and it's never going to be a place where you'll find peace and quiet, but it does give you a great introduction to the kind of natural beauty that you'll find throughout the park. The trail comes to an end at the Virgin River, and if you turn back there, you'll hike a total of two miles roundtrip. Or, continue on to our next hike..
3. The Narrows
From the end of the Riverside Walk trail, many hikers will want to at least explore The Narrows. The trail...is right in the middle of the Virgin River! Make sure to wear shoes with good tread that can get wet. Most people hike for just awhile, mostly to cool off in the river. You can go as far as Big Spring without a permit - it's another five miles down the river. Hiking The Narrows with a permit, you'll have two options - bottom up (starting at Riverside Walk), or top down (starting at Chamberlain's Ranch).
4. The Watchman Trail
If you're familiar at all with Zion National Park, you immediately recognize The Watchman, which majestically towers over the canyon. The Watchman Trail makes a 3.2-mile loop and is considered easy. You'll only gain about 300 feet in elevation, but make sure to bring plenty of water. The trails doesn't actually take you
to The Watchman, but rather to a viewpoint that offers a spectacular overlook of the valley, with The Watchman in the distance.
5. The Subway
There are two ways to hike The Subway in Zion National Park - from the top down, and from the bottom up. Both trails require a permit from the park - the top down hike involves rappelling and swimming, but even the bottom-up hike can be quite difficult. The hike will take you five to nine hours to complete, but you will have witnessed some of Zion National Park's most beautiful scenery.
6. Emerald Pools Trail
The Emerald Pools Trail is popular with families. You can start right at Zion Lodge, making your way over the bridge. You can choose how far you'd like to go. It's just a short half mile hike to the Lower Pool, and that portion is easy enough for everyone. Some steep steps take you up the the Middle Pool, and another quarter mile of strenuous hiking brings you to the Upper Pool. Make sure to stay well behind the signs - the Upper Pool can be slippery.
7. West Rim Trail (From Lava Point)
If you're feeling like a hard-core hike that will allow you some incredible views, consider the West Rim Trail. The hike is 18 miles long, and most people camp along the way, making it a one-night backpacking adventure. You'll follow along the rim, finally descending into Zion Canyon. You'll descend a total of 3,600 feet.
8. Weeping Rock
For an incredibly short hike, take the Weeping Rock trail, which is just a half mile. While it's short, it's not one of Zion's easier trails - it's steep, with uneven terrain. Still, the Weeping Rock, with its moss-covered walls and trickling water is charming and well worth your effort.
9. La Verkin Creek Trail/Kolob Arch
The La Verkin Creek Trail starts at Lee's Pass, and it takes you along the creek bed, allowing some incredible cliff views. You'll reach Kolob Arch - one of the world's largest free-standing arches, then decide if you want to continue on to explore Beartrap or Willis Canyons. This trail can be an all day venture, or a backpacking trip.
10. Hidden Canyon Trail
The Hidden Canyon Trail is a strenuous endeavor, so it's not for everyone. If you're in good enough shape to tackle it, you'll be charmed and delighted by this hanging canyon and its steep paths and sheer rock walls. This hike requires a fair amount of scrambling over rocks, and if you're afraid of heights it might not be the best hike for you.
Though Zion might be crowded with people in some areas, it’s important to remember that you’re in the wilderness when you’re hiking. The park is vast, and it’s important to be adequately prepared before taking off down the trail. Make sure you have plenty of water, a light jacket and sunscreen. Hike with a friend or group; if you’re planning a solitary hike tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Most importantly, don’t take on a hiking trail that’s beyond your fitness level. Most deaths at Zion National Park occur from heart attack or heat stroke.