Zion National Park

Location – Southwestern Utah

Park tally – 1/59

Orientation – There is no disputing that Zion is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country. The most popular section of the park is Zion Canyon, where you will find the majority of visitors. Kolob Canyons is northwest of Zion Canyon and is a lesser visited section of the park, though well worth checking out.

Most iconic view – One of the most well-known features of Zion is The Watchman, standing at 6545ft right by the park’s south entrance. The Watchman is best viewed along the Virgin River, from the Pa’rus Trail or at Canyon Junction.

Accessible activity  – For those looking to gently explore the park, the Pa’rus Trail is a good place to start. Rent a bike or simply walk the easy 3.5mile roundtrip trail along Zion Canyon. You can even walk/bike the trail one-way and catch the shuttle back to the visitor center.

Another accessible trail is the Riverside Walk, which begins from the Temple of Sinawava. This is a wonderful trail to get a taste of the famous Narrows, without having to get your feet wet!

If you would rather bike than sit on the shuttle, many people choose to bike the 7-mile-long Zion Canyon Scenic Drive as it is relatively flat and offers unbeatable views. You can either bike the 7miles back or opt to catch the shuttle one way.

For the adventurous – Zion is full of trails and activities for those looking to get the adrenalin pumping! Angels Landing is a very popular 5.4mile roundtrip day hike, though it’s not for the faint hearted! Be prepared to hold onto chains and traverse steep narrow ridges.

Observation Point provides an even more impressive view down Zion Canyon, though covers a total of 8miles and 660 feet more elevation gain compared to Angels Landing, for a total of 2148ft.

For those looking to get their feet wet, The Narrows is an impressive 9.4mile roundtrip day hike through one of the most popular areas in the park. The trail will take you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, with sandstone walls towering a thousand feet either side of the gorge and the Virgin River flowing beneath your feet. Visitors can opt to hike as little or as far into the gorge as they feel comfortable.

Backcountry option – Looking to get away from the crowds? The West and East Rim Trails offer fantastic wilderness camping options. Be sure to get a permit from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center or Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and adhere to Leave No Trace principles.

Lesser known spot – Located only 40 miles north-west of Zion Canyon, Kolob Canyons is a hidden gem. Drive 5 miles along Kolob Canyons Road for views of crimson canyons and access to various trails. Timber Creek Overlook Trail and Kolob Canyons Viewpoint are both worth checking out. For the more adventurous, the Subway hike is extremely picturesque if you’re willing to put in the effort.

Best photo opportunities- Zion National Park has endless options for beautiful photographs. Scenic sunrise locations include Court of the Patriarchs and Towers of the Virgin, both located in Zion Canyon. Hit up the Pa’rus Trail and Canyon Junction for epic sunset views of The Watchman. Lastly, make sure to hike out to the Wall Street section of the famous Narrows trail for epic canyon views.

Quick facts

  • Zion National Park was established on November 19, 1919.
  • In 2009, Congress protected nearly 84 percent of the park as Wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act.
  • The Zion Shuttle system was implemented in the year 2000, which has significantly reduced congestion in the most popular places of the park.
  • In 2016 a whopping 4,295,127 visitors came to Zion National Park, almost 650,000 more than in 2015!
  • The 1969 film “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was largely filmed in Zion National Park.