Zion National Park has easily become one of my favorite places. It has great hiking, canyoneering, and the best scenery. We have had quite a few people ask us what our favorite hikes are and what to do during a quick trip there. Blake and I thought it would be fun to compile some things to do in a short day trip to Zion.
One of the most iconic hikes in the national park is definitely Angel’s Landing. It is a must do! Angel’s Landing is about 5 miles round trip with about 1500 feet of elevation gain. It can be completed in anywhere from 3-6 hours. I think the ideal time to start this hike is early morning. This way you beat the big crowds as well as the heat. We always try to get into the park no later than 8 AM. During busy season, March-October, there is shuttle that runs from the visitor center into the main canyon. The stop for Angel’s Landing is The Grotto; during off season months you can drive into the main canyon and park at the trail head. I like to do this hike in the off season and not have to deal with the shuttle. Once you arrive at The Grotto, you follow the paved trail across the bridge and start your ascent. The beginning of the hike is pretty strenuous because it has some long switchbacks that wear you right out. Luckily, once you complete those lengthy switchbacks you are in Refrigerator Canyon. It is named this because it is shady and the temperature is always a bit cooler. It is the perfect refresher after that uphill climb. The famous Walter Wiggles is the next section of the hike. These are the short but very steep switchbacks that bring you to Scouts Lookout. This is where the hike can get a little spooky because it’s the beginning of the famous spine. There are plenty of chains to feel secure and safe. The view at the top is worth the strenuous hike. We always like to enjoy a snack at the top and take lots of photos.
After you have completed Angel’s Landing, a fun refreshing hike is The Narrows. The Narrows and Angel’s Landing are probably the two most famous hikes in Zion so I think it is worth it to see both if you only have a day here. The Narrows is a great hike because you can take it at your own pace and you can go as far as you’d like. The shuttle stop for The Narrows is the Temple of Sinawa; it’s the last shuttle stop in the main canyon. I like this hike in the middle of the day, because you are walking through water so it is nice and refreshing on a hot day. The trail head begins right as you exit the shuttle, from there you head north for about a mile on a paved trail. Once the paved trail ends is where the true narrows begin. The canyon starts to get more narrow and you have to begin trudging through the water. It can be a little tricky because the rocks are quite slippery and uneven and depending on the time of year the water can be slightly muddy; the water is anywhere from ankle to waist deep. It is recommended to have a walking pole or at least have someone to hold onto (Thanks Blake!). About a half mile of walking through the water, there is a neat waterfall called Mystery Falls. About a mile further is Orderville Canyon or “Wall Street”. This is where a lot of people turn around. It is definitely worth walking this far up. At some point, Blake and I would like to do the whole backpacking trip and see the entire Narrows
Depending on how much time you take doing The Narrows, one short hike that is easy and can be done rather quickly is Canyon Overlook. It is about one mile round trip and takes about 30 minutes to an hour. This is a fun hike to do at sunset. Blake and I have even done this hike at night to take some star photos. The trail head for this hike begins on the east side of Zion-Mount Caramel Tunnel. There is a small parking lot right when you exit the tunnel or you can park on the road as well. There is a small ascent that includes stairs carved out of the rock but after that initial ascent it is level and very easy. We’ve made it a little tradition to do this hike whenever we are in Zion because it is so beautiful.