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12 Best Things to Do in Zion National Park

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12 Best Things to Do in Zion National Park

In a state of epic national parks, Utah’s Zion is arguably the best of the lot. The national park features unforgettable scenery, with towering rock faces, deep valleys, wildlife and vibrant colors. All of this can be seen along the spectacular Scenic Drive.

Because of this drive, Zion National Park is easily accessible. The park features a variety of wheelchair-friendly hikes to amazing views. You can arrive at each with the help of the park’s expansive shuttle system.

Choosing which things to do in Zion National Park to add to your itinerary can be a tricky exercise. Allow us to lend a hand with this list of the most amazing attractions in this beautiful national park.

12. Temple of Sinawava Trail

© dreamstime

As the unofficial beginning of the park’s stunning canyon, the Temple of Sinawava Trail is one of the best accessible hikes in Zion National Park. The trail is one mile in length and its paved path is lined by blooming wildflowers in the spring and summer before the Temple comes into view.

You’ll spot the tumbling waterfall that dives into the vast pool below. Among the soaring red rock cliffs is a beautiful garden that defies that desert landscape. Fed by the water, the lush green foliage provides epic contrast and some of the best photography in Zion.

To cool off, enjoy a dip in the pool while staring up at the amphitheater that extends 3000 ft towards the heavens. Getting to the trailhead is easy, and it’s the last shuttle stop on the Zion Canyon Scenic Trail.

From the end of the Temple of Sinawava Trail, continue on to explore the Orderville Canyon.

11. Hidden Canyon Trail

Hidden Canyon Trail© dreamstime

After arriving at Stop 7 (Weeping Rock) you’re ready to hike the vertigo-inducing Hidden Canyon Trail. Similar to the popular Angel’s Landing (listed below) this trail offers similar spectacular views without the crowds.

Hidden Canyon Trail is three miles long and will take hikers roughly two hours to complete. With plenty of time spent taking in the views before arriving at the canyon. The trail is an adventure in itself, with the path hugging the side of the cliff ending at the narrow Hidden Canyon.

Such is the proximity to the cliff’s edge, the trail has several sections that offer the use of chains to help hikers maintain balance. Despite what can be a heart-in-mouth experience, the lack of elevation gain and the usual amazing scenery makes this a top hike in Zion National Park.

10. Zion Canyon Visitor Center

Zion Canyon Visitor Center© dreamstime

If you arriving from the south entrance just past Springdale, pay a visit to the Zion Visitor Center (the other is in Kolob Canyon). Come here for tips and advice from rangers along with up-to-date maps, camping and the park’s fantastic shuttle service.

Once you’ve received all the information, you need to make the most of your travels, stick around to learn more about the unique local geography. Inside the visitor center’s Forever Project, explore interactive exhibits, learn about the park’s bighorn sheep population and shop for mementos or last-minute gear.

From there, catch the shuttle to any one of the trailheads along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

9. Observation Point

Observation Point© dreamstime

A challenging thigh burner of a hike is required to reach Observation Point. But the challenge is well worth it for many trekkers who take on the 6.7 mile round trip head on. The result? An epic summit view of the colorful valley and the hikers on Angels Landing below.

Beginning at the Weeping Rock Trail, the challenging hike covers over 2100ft of elevation gain. The good news is that the ascent is steady and spread out over the initial 3.8 mile journey. Along the way, you’ll pass steep ravines and slot canyons.

Because of Observation Points’ connection to the rim trails, many hikers split the trail into several sections but taking breaks to explore other trails. Their patience is well-rewarded with panoramic views of almost the entire national park.

8. Kolob Canyons

Kolob Canyons© dreamstime

With its own section of Zion National Park, Kolob Canyons presents adventurers with a variety of easy to challenging hikes. Enjoy historic sites, wildlife and river crossings in one of the park’s more remote areas.

The most popular trail, that provides a bit of everything listed above, is the Middle Fork Trail. The five-mile trail is rated as easy to moderate and can be completed by the majority of hikers. There are several memorable sites along the way, including two historic homesteads.

Before finishing the hike at Double Arch Alcove, capture views of Tucupit and Paria Points with the likelihood of spotting wild animals along the journey. The alcove is a grotto of epic proportions. What initially looks like a sheer rock face, has a lower alcove, which soon comes into view, providing an inspiring spot to rest and enjoy lunch.

7. Pa’rus Trail

Pa'rus Trailflickr/Bryan Ungard

Open to bicycles, pets and hikers, the Pa’rus Trail is another accessible hike that is great for families and those that want to get about on two wheels. Named after the Paiute word for bubbling water, the Pa’rus Trail begins just north of the visitor center.

The spacious paved trail meanders through the lower section of Zion Canyon along the Virgin River. The pleasant walk is matched by the calming, beautiful scenery. Cross over the river multiple times as you keep your eye out for mule deer. During the spring and summer, you’ll also be able to take in the dazzling colors of the desert’s wildflowers.

As a round-trip hike or ride, the Pa’rus Trail is 3.4 miles long and most of the path is flat, with the turnaround point being Canyon Junction. Expect to take around two hours to complete the walk.

6. Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping Rock Trail© dreamstime

As one of the top attractions in Zion National Park, a trip to Weeping Rock has to be on your itinerary. The short but steep Weeping Rock Trail is a half-mile hike from shuttle stop 7.

Rather than climbing to a summit, Weeping Rock is a place to explore. As the name suggests, the rock face is crying. It’s not known whether they’re happy or sad tears, but depending on the season, it can be a drip or a waterfall.

The water, in turn, helps to produce the abundance of fern and moss along the rock face. Beyond the color contrasts, come here to appreciate the enormity of Zion’s canyon walls.

5. Emerald Pools

Emerald Pools© dreamstime

Located at shuttle stop 5 (Zion Lodge), the Emerald Pools are similar to Weeping Rock. There are two trails to choose from, one offering a short and sweet hike to the Lower Emerald Pools. Or you can continue on to the Upper Emerald Pool for a chance to enjoy the spot with fewer crowds.

The 1.2 mile round-trip hike to the lower pools is the popular choice. The trail is easy and rather flat, ending at a small waterfall with glistening pools that have found a home among the desert landscape. A further half mile will take you to a viewpoint and the upper pools.

4. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive© dreamstime

Featuring many of the best things to do in Zion National Park, the scenic drive is the best way to get a taste of the whole park. The 12-mile road comes with predictably dramatic scenery that captures the very best that Zion has to offer.

With soaring walls on both sides, travel through the deep valley with the road ending at the park’s iconic Narrows. The easiest way to experience the drive is on one of the shuttle buses. Hop on and off to explore further afield.

You are also able to cycle the scenic drive, with buses equipped with bike racks. When the shuttle buses finish for the day, you can also drive it yourself.

3. Canyon Overlook Trail

Canyon Overlook Trail© dreamstime

As a common alternative for the famous Angel’s Landing trek, the Canyon Overlook Trail ends with breathtaking views of Zion Canyon. The hike is only a mile in length, which, alongside the exceptional ending, gives hikers the best bang-for-your-buck trail in Zion.

The ease of the hike also makes the Canyon Overlook Trail popular with families and hikers of all abilities. Unfortunately, the trail doesn’t feature a shuttle stop. Instead, adventurers must park in a small pull-off. Hikers should arrive early to avoid having to walk from further afield.

2. Angel’s Landing

Angel's Landing© dreamstime

If there’s one hike in Zion National Park that you should get up early for, then it has to be Angel’s Landing. The renowned trail sees massive crowds each day, which can make enjoying the trail’s rock scrambling a tricky task.

The trail is steep with sharp gains of over 1500ft in the first 2.4 miles. With stark drop-offs in each direction, this can be a difficult trek for those with a fear of heights. Be sure to grab onto the many cables along the way.

At the summit, hikers are rewarded with the best views in Zion National Park.

1. The Narrows

The Narrows© dreamstime

Is it a hiking trail or is it a river? Either way, hiking through the Narrows in Zion National Park is sure to be a wet experience. The journey through the slot canyon is a must-do for many visitors.

The full trek is 10 miles out and back, with many hikers turning around once they have their filling. Because of the popularity of the hike and the time it takes to complete (up to a full day) you will need to grab a permit.

The trail follows the Virgin River through a thin canyon with rising walls in every direction. With nature singing and the water splashing against rocks, the Narrows is an epic sensory experience.

Map of Things to Do in Zion National Park

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