Zion National Park is an absolute jewel of the United States National Park system. Zion, located in Southwest Utah, is one of the top hiking destinations not just in the United States, but the entire world. Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Observation Point are 3 hikes that are each uniquely beautiful and incredible to experience. Because of these 3 hikes, Zion needs to be on any adventurer’s bucket list! Without further ado, here is our article on the best hikes in Zion National Park.
For many people, trekking up a mountain in 100 degree heat might seem like a recipe for yelling at your significant other for a few hours (not that that happened to us…). However, Zion is so wildly AWESOME that it is so worth it, and if you plan it right you won’t be outside in the 100 degree heat. We will help you with all of it! Hiking Zion National Park is an activity that everyone should do.
These hikes are no joke, but we promise you, they are worth it! The sights and sounds of Zion National Park are unlike any we’ve ever seen, we guarantee they’ll make your jaw drop. And as a bonus, after we tell you our 3 favorite hikes in Zion, we’ll tell you about the best place to stay and where to eat on your tour of the park.
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This hike is long and challenging. We are talking 4 miles each way and an elevation gain of 2,300 feet! And what goes up must come down, so this bad boy is an 8 mile trek, but enough with the hard part, with great effort comes great reward after all.
The view at the top of Observation Point is one of, if not the number one, best we’ve ever seen. Zion National Park is a mountain oasis populated by luscious foliage and numerous animals, including deer, goats, Peregrine Falcons (the world’s fastest animal) and the rare giant, the California Condor!
At Observation Point, the entire park spreads before you like a delicious Thanksgiving meal. The settlers named the area Zion, a biblical reference highlighting the peaceful nature of the canyon. You’ll stand in awe at how such a beautiful forest grew in the middle of the vast desert expanding around Zion.
Plan to get an early start, since the hike to Observation Point can take about 4-6 hours, depending on the number of breaks you take. You’ll be huffing and puffing, so take breaks and bring LOTS of water.
We brought 3 bottles each and that seemed to work fine. It also helped to have some citrus fruits, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and beef jerky packed away to enjoy at the top.
This trail is much less crowded than the others, and you’ll get some awesome views of Angel’s Landing on your way up. Once you reach the summit, the views at the top will take your breath away. Trust us, you won’t want to leave.
If Observation Point is peanut butter, then The Narrows is jelly. These two couldn’t be more different, but they are epic when you combine them in a delicious hike-wich. (like sandwich? New low for Dad jokes over here…).
We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!
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Coincidentally, like the Observation Point hike, we brought a peanut butter and jelly picnic on our Narrows hike as well. The Narrows is a wonderful hike, with many places to stop for lunch. Pack along a backpack of food and water and have a picnic you’ll never forget, surrounded by picturesque cliffs and a rushing river.
If you’ve never heard of The Narrows hike, let us make something clear: you are going to get wet. Shortly after starting this hike, you will find yourself literally hiking through the Virgin River surrounded by huge cliffs on each side. You’d be smart to bring shoes that can get wet, or if you don’t have any, there are at least 10 places you can rent them near the park entrance.
At times the water can get up to your waist (and higher if you slip!). Add in the fact that early in the morning most of the river is shaded, this hike can start out a little chilly. Bring a sweatshirt to start, but make sure it is light enough that you’ll be able to throw it in your backpack after the picnic.
One of the great things about The Narrows is that the trail basically never ends! You can literally hike up the river for as long as you want, up to 5 miles or so. Whether you want to go 1 mile or 4 miles, you’ll have a blast. Just remember, you must come back the way you came.
The most popular and Zion’s most iconic hike. Angel’s Landing is 5 miles round trip up a very narrow path with 1000 foot drop offs on each side of you!
We are not kidding when we say that Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart. You don’t need to worry too much, there are ropes and chains to help you out during the tough parts, so you should be able to safely hike to the summit.
Once you get there, the views of the canyon from the top are astonishing. When the sun peeks through the clouds it looks like heaven is shining down on this place. They must call it Angel’s Landing for a reason…
Our tip for this hike: bring a small backpack to carry your belongings so your hands are free to use the chains. And of course, like all of these hikes, pack a sandwich and some fruit to munch on at the top before hiking your booty on home!
Transportation In and Around the Park
Parking is very limited inside the park, but fortunately there are free shuttles from nearby towns, where there is a plethora of parking options. There are two shuttle loops:
- The Zion Canyon Shuttle connects the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to stops at nine different locations within the park
- The Springdale Shuttle has nine stops in the town of Springdale that will take you to the Zion’s pedestrian entrance
Now, you have two options for parking and getting around the park. Option one: park your vehicle in Springdale and catch the Springdale Shuttle to the pedestrian entrance, then transfer to the Zion Canyon Shuttle to get to your trailhead. Option two: arrive early (before 9am) and you can likely find parking inside the park.
Hiking is our number 1 favorite activity. You get outside, get exercise, see amazing things, and don’t spend a lot of money. It is literally the perfect activity! You do need to have the right gear to go though. Here is all the best gear we use for our hikes.
The best and most convenient parking spot we found was at the information center. We then caught the Zion Canyon Shuttle from there and took the shuttle to the Observation Point, Angel’s Landing, or Narrows trailheads.
We tried both these options and preferred option two over option one for a few different reasons. It saved us loads of time at the beginning and end of our days, we beat the crowds getting an early start, and our hotel was on the east side of the park, close to the information center.
Everything was super easy to figure out with signs all over Zion and Springdale, so you shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out where you need to be.
Zion Mountain Ranch
We stayed at Zion Mountain Ranch, located a few miles outside the park, and we absolutely loved it. First off, because of the location. Each morning we woke up with the roosters and had a beautiful drive into the park, which only took 20-30 minutes. However, as mentioned above if you can get an early start you can likely find parking inside the park which would cut this commute down to 10-15 minutes. It was a perfect wind-up and wind-down for each day hiking.
Zion Mountain Ranch is on the east side of the park which we actually preferred over the west side. The east side is much less popular than the west. There are hardly any resorts on this side of the park, meaning it was so quiet and peaceful we could hear a pin drop. We did make an effort to check out Springdale on the west side one night which was fun to do some shopping, but overall we enjoyed our peaceful stay on the east.
Secondly, Zion Mountain Ranch literally has a herd of buffalo on-site! We have never stayed, or even heard of, anywhere that has a herd of animals on-site! In addition, they had horses (available to ride!), chickens, goats, and more. Don’t let all the wildlife worry you, the animals aren’t out and about roaming free.
It shouldn’t have taken us this long to mention, but the cabins at Zion Mountain Ranch are probably the best reason to stay here. Each cabin is private, with its own amenities, some of which even have hot tubs! Great for a little post-hike relaxation!
Where to Eat at Zion
Zion is located in the middle of an enormous desert in Southern Utah. There aren’t many big cities around, and consequently you won’t have 100 restaurant options. That does not mean you won’t have delicious food, however. We ate like kings and queens in Zion! Here were our favorite stops.
The on-site restaurant at Zion Mountain Ranch is absolutely delicious. If you stay at this ranch, make sure to eat at the on-site restaurant on one of your first nights. If you love it, you can go back again! On top of the yummy taste, the portions are absolutely enormous. Keep that in mind as you saddle up to your table for a delicious meal that will power your hikes for the rest of the week!
In Springdale, Jack’s Sports Grill is a great sports bar with delicious food as well. If there is a game you want to catch during your time in Zion, this is the place to go. They also serve some yummy locally brewed beers on tap!
Who doesn’t love camping?? Getting out into the great outdoors, enjoying Mother Nature’s beauty, it is the best! We love waking up with a cup of coffee after camping by the lake under the stars. Here is all the camping gear we use and love!
Meme’s Cafe is a perfect breakfast/brunch stop. Tasty home cooking served in huge portions, you should definitely come hungry to Meme’s! If not, plan on bringing home some leftovers… Oscar’s Cafe is delicious as well. Great for breakfast, or even a dinner spot!
Finally, Thai Sapa serves wildly delicious Thai food! We are suckers for a good Pad Thai, so we had to stop at Thai Sapa and try it out, and we were not disappointed! The flavors were incredible and the price was right!
Thank you so much for reading our blog post on the 3 best hikes in Zion National Park. In addition to learning about some awesome hikes, we hope you learned a thing or two about getting around Zion, where to stay, and the best places to eat near the park!
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Thank you so much for reading! There you have it, everything we know about hiking Zion National Park! Pin the below pictures to save for later.
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