Zion Canyon National Park is a national jewel. Why, you ask? Because it’s gorgeous, accessible, and offers spectacular hikes of widely varying difficulty levels. As an added bonus, Zion is next door to a lovely little town called Springdale, which means restaurants, movies, shopping, and other entertainment also abound when you finish your outdoor adventures.
For first-timers to Zion, there are some classic hikes to tackle. Which ones are the best? I’ve come up with a list that gives nods to challenging hikes, easier hikes, don’t-miss hikes, and some other personal favorites.
Considered an ultimate slot canyon classic by travelers from around the world. You’ll be walking in the Virgin River most of the way, so be prepared to get wet, navigate slippery rocks, and be turned away during truly inclement weather. You needn’t commit to the entire 16-mile length, however; just wading upstream from the Riverside Walk as far as you want to go can still offer a hearty taste of this world-famous slot canyon.
Lower Pool is best on a hot day and for younger kids; Middle Pool is more of a jaunt with glorious views as your reward; and Upper Pool is slightly more strenuous, but so totally worth it when you get there. All are very crowded in the summertime.
Ancient water seeps out of the rock itself, which also means it’s cool and full of green growing things. The shortest trail in the Park and therefore one of the most popular. Excellent for kids.
As the name implies, make sure you have your camera ready for this one. It’s also totally exposed to sun, 8 miles long, and uphill. But is your hard work ever paid off by the views at the end!
If you don’t have the stamina or time for Observation Point, do this one instead. Same pay-off in views with far less effort put in, being only one mile roundtrip.
Sometimes called the “Yosemite” of Utah for its tall cliffs and stupendous views, this hike is not one to simply toss off in a day (although you can if so inclined). But it is definitely a Zion classic.
Don’t you love “secret” hikes? Keep an eye out for the small freestanding arch, tucked into a little canyon at the back of Hidden Canyon.
This one is a real trek, but if you do it, you get to see one of the world’s largest freestanding natural arches. How’s that for cool?
Okay, okay, you got me; it’s not a hike. But sometimes hiking just seems like too much for one day, right? So go ahead, try this very aptly-named drive for a break. With switchbacks, tunnels, and pullouts, it’s fun as well as one of southern Utah’s top most beautiful drives.
Another Zion classic. This one has pretty serious drop-offs and a very awe-inspiring final ascent that involves a chain to hold onto. If you make it all the way, the views from the top are simply tremendous.