Zion NP: Top Day Hikes to Explore
In: Trail Notes
Did you know about 200 million years ago Zion was a barren desert? Yes. Barren desert, buried deep in dunes of wind blown sand that resembles the modern-day Sahara. These great dune fields later solidified into stone to form the Navajo sandstone formation. This formation is more than 2,000 feet thick in places, and it forms the spectacular monoliths, slot canyons, and towering walls of Zion Canyon. The upper layers of Navajo Formation were cleansed of iron oxides by groundwater and became bone-white, while the lower layers of sandstone retain a distinctly rusty cast. Much later, the sand dunes were covered over by freshwater lakes and shallow seas, which contributed sediment to form the rock layers that top the Navajo sandstone.
Zion is widely known for its marvelous contrasting colors and stunning views, but paired with fall it far exceeds my expectations. Autumn in Zion is beyond explainable! October and November are ideal to visit Zion National Park. The crowds dissipate and the park becomes more calm and relaxing due to the lack of tourists. Cool climate makes Zion a hiker’s paradise! Zion is located in southern Utah where winters are more mild, meaning that the fall is just the right temperature for hiking and exploring. Average temperatures in Zion during the fall can range from low 40’s to mid 70’s. compared to the summer months when midday can reach above 100. If you are a serious hiker, fall is the best time to check out park’s amazing trails.
Zion’s Top Day Hikes to Explore
1. Pa’rus Trail follows the Virgin River from the South Campground to Canyon Junction. This trail is handicap accessible however wheelchairs may need assistance. Trailside exhibits. This is the only trail in Zion National Park that allows both pets (on a leash up to 6 feet) and bicycles. You can access this trail from the Museum (Shuttle Stop #2) by using a short connector trail that is not designed for wheelchairs and not approved for bikes or pets. Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Visitor Center. Roundtrip distance is 3.5 mi / 5.6 km and the trail location is up canyon from the Visitor Center and across the bridge adjacent to the South Campground. This trail can also be accessed from the Canyon Junction shuttle stop #1 Visitor Center or #3 Canyon Junction.
2. Lower Emerald Pool Trail leads to the Lower Emerald Pool and waterfalls. Connects to the Kayenta and Upper Emerald Pools Trails. Swimming is prohibited in the Emerald Pools. Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Zion Lodge. Roundtrip distance is 1.2 mi / 1.9 km and the trail location is right across the road from the Zion Lodge. Shuttle stop to stop from is #5 Zion Lodge
3. Weeping Rock Trail is short but steep. Minor drop-offs. The paved trail ends at a few steps and a rock alcove with dripping springs. Trailside exhibits. Pit toilets are available at the parking area. Roundtrip distance is .4 mi / .6 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #7 Weeping Rock.
4. Watchman Trail ends at a viewpoint of the Towers of the Virgin, lower Zion Canyon, Watchman Peak, and Springdale. The trail can be muddy when wet. Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Visitor Center. Roundtrip distance is 3.3 mi / 5.3 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #1 Visitor Center.
5. Upper Emerald Pool Trail sandy and rocky trail that climbs to the Upper Emerald Pool at the base of a cliff. No swimming is allowed in the Emerald Pools. Roundtrip distance is 1.0 mi / 1.6 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #5 Zion Lodge or #6 The Grotto.
6. Kayenta Trail is an unpaved climb to the Emerald Pools. Connects the Grotto to the Emerald Pools Trails. Bathrooms and water filling stations are available at the Grotto. Roundtrip distance is 2.0 mi / 3.2 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #6 The Grotto.
7. Canyon Overlook Trail is rocky and uneven trail ends at a viewpoint for Pine Creek Canyon and lower Zion Canyon. To enter or exit the parking area just east of the tunnel, you must turn right. Parking is extremely limited, be prepared to try multiple times. Pit toilets are available in the parking area. Roundtrip distance is 1.0 mi / 1.6 km. No shuttles. Requires personal transportation.
8. Angels Landing via West Rim Trail is known for long drop-offs. Not recommended for young children or anyone fearful of heights. The last section is a route along a steep, narrow ridge to the summit. Roundtrip distance is 5.4 mi / 8.7 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #6 The Grotto.
9. Hidden Canyon Trail via the East Rim Trail is not for anyone fearful of heights. Follows along a cliff face to the mouth of a narrow canyon. Pit toilets are available at the parking area. Roundtrip distance is 2.5 mi / 4.0 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #7 Weeping Rock.
10. Observation Point via East Rim Trail climbs through Echo Canyon to a viewpoint on the rim of Zion Canyon. Access to Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain, and East Mesa Trails. Pit toilets are available at the parking area. Roundtrip distance is 8.0 mi / 12.9 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #7 Weeping Rock.
11. The Narrows via Riverside Walk trail is known as the bottom-up Narrows and does not require a permit. Upstream travel beyond Big Spring or in Orderville Canyon is prohibited. At least 60% of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. Travel is rough and slippery in cold, fast-flowing water. High water levels can prevent access. Obtain additional information prior to starting this hike. Use appropriate equipment and clothing to help protect you. Before your hike, always check the weather and flash flood potential. Flash floods are deadly. Roundtrip Distance is 9.4 mi / 15.1 km. Shuttle stop to stop from is #9 Temple of Sinawava