If you are an avid hiker, chances are that Zion has been on your bucket list for quite some time. You’ve probably seen myriads of pictures posted online of Zion national park’s breathtaking scenery. While doing your research on Zion, you may have come across different trails and you may have had this question – How difficult are the hikes in Zion?
Zion national park truly offers something for everyone, from family-friendly hikes to jaw-dropping hikes up Angels Landing. You can go for a short, family-friendly stroll or go on a long strenuous day hike. Newbie hikers will be thrilled with shorter and easier tracks, while the more experienced ones will stand in awe of epic and more strenuous trails.
Before we present you with the best hikes that Zion national park has to offer if you are in search of more amazing destinations to visit in August, check out our guide on camping in Iceland in August.
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What are the best hikes in Zion national park?
As we’ve mentioned at the very beginning of our article, Zion offers some of the best hikes in the US. The level of their difficulty ranges from easy to difficult. Here we’ll cover some of the best hikes in Zion, both the easy and the difficult ones. Make sure to also check our article on top-rated hiking trails in Arizona.
#1 Angels Landing
Angels Landing is undoubtedly the most popular trail in Zion national park, as well as one of the most dangerous hikes in the US. Various influencers, adrenaline junkies, and daredevils have contributed to the rise in this trail’s popularity. It’s worth mentioning that you need a hiking permit to do the full Angels Landing hike, which is granted on a lottery basis.
Angels Landing is scary and exhilarating at the same time. The narrowest part of the trail is about 3 feet in width and there are 1,000 feet drop-offs on either side. Spectacular views of the canyon await those who are brave enough to climb to the top.
The climb to the top of Angels Landing is not for the faint of heart. However, there is an alternative way how you can enjoy this hike even if you are scared or not prepared for climbing to the top. You can stop your hike at Scout’s Lookout, where you can still enjoy great views.
#2 The Narrows
You should definitely expect to get your feet wet when it comes to this trail. The Narrows trail offers the chance to hike through the Zion Canyon on a trail that is submerged in water. The Virgin River is what made Zion national park and The Narrows puts you right in the middle of it.
The Narrows is a trail that is famous around the world for its unmatched scenery. The hike is described as moderately difficult. However, you should keep in mind that this trail is often closed in the spring due to high water levels that make it dangerous. Hikers should also monitor the weather conditions and beware of flash floods that can take them by surprise in case of heavy rain.
#3 Observation Point
Observation Point has jaw-dropping views of the Zion national park that probably no other trail can beat. To make the 2,000 feet climb, you need between 4 and 6 hours of hiking. Keep in mind that this trail is a steady climb, but it is worth all the time and effort that you will put in. The alternative route to a traditional route from Weeping Rock is a quicker and easier East Mesa Trail. It is less interesting, but since it’s quicker it enables you to visit Observation Point at sunrise or sunset, which is a real plus point.
#4 Riverside Walk
This track is a family-friendly track and a great alternative for The Narrows hike. It is a great track for beginner hikers and it is handicap-accessible. People walking with strollers and wheelchairs can safely use this track. This hike is usually shady since it’s surrounded by rocks. We advise that you bring a light jacket or a sweater with you.
#5 The Grotto Trail
The Grotto trail is another short and family-friendly hike. It is a perfect choice when you are pressed for time. It’s only 1 mile long and it will take less than half an hour to complete it. If you go on this trail early in the morning or later in the day, chances are that you will encounter wildlife, such as lizards, chipmunks, or even deer and sheep. Speaking of wild animals, you might be interested to read how to protect yourself from wild animals while hiking.
Where to stay to hike Zion?
There are plenty of options where you can stay in Zion national park and they include hotels, motels, as well as bed and breakfast places. The town of Springdale is a great choice for lodging. It is located at the mouth of Zion Canyon and it is a tourist place. Springdale and nearby Rockville have a good list of motels, hotels, and bed and breakfast places. These are the top three of our favorites:
- Zion Park Motel is ideal for a family-friendly stay.
- Cliffrose Lodge or Desert Pearl Inn are ideal choices for a more expensive resort-like stay.
- Zion Lodge in the main canyon is the only option for accommodation within Zion national park.
If you are traveling on a budget, be sure to also check out cheaper motels in the towns of Hurricane, La Verkin, and St. George. However, keep in mind that the farther you stay from Zion Canyon, the longer your drive to the park will be.
What to wear to hike Zion?
When you think about what to wear to hike Zion, you should take into consideration whether you are going for a leisurely hike or a more remote and strenuous hike. That’s exactly how we will give you tips on what to wear and bring to hike Zion, depending on the difficulty of your trail.
What to wear for leisurely hikes?
Next is the list of things that you should wear and bring for leisurely hikes in Zion:
- Footwear – Wear light hiking shoes or trail runners. Avoid models that have Gore-Tex, so that your shoes can breathe and drain water. You can read in our blog whether Gore-Tex is too hot for summer. Hiking sandals are also a good choice, but make sure that they have toe protection. When it comes to socks, wool and synthetic socks offer protection against blisters and when hiking in the river neoprene socks are the way to go.
- Shorts – Since Zion has a hot climate, shorts are a good lightweight choice for leisurely hikes.
- Drinking water – Consider summer desert heat in Zion and bring plenty of water. Bring a hydration-compatible backpack where you can carry hydration reservoirs or Nalgene bottles. While we are on the subject of backpacks too, learn why hiking backpacks are important in our blog.
- Sun protection – Wear both sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Food – Bring food and snacks that will provide you with enough energy, such as energy bars, fruits, and sandwiches.
- Navigation aids – a map is a great tool that can show you all the official trails in the entire park.
What to wear for strenuous hikes?
For more strenuous or remote hikes, you will need the following equipment:
- Hiking poles – They can prove to be extremely useful on long hikes or on uneven terrain. Hiking poles will be particularly handy while hiking The Narrows.
- Hiking pants – They are a more sensible choice for strenuous hikes, as they can protect you from scratches and scrapes.
- A top – Your top should be cool, breathable, and moisture-wicking.
- A jacket – Choose a lightweight and breathable jacket that you can easily pack in your daypack when it’s warm and use in the evenings when it gets much cooler.
- A headlamp – To be on the safe side, in case you stay out after dark, it is a good idea to bring a headlamp with you.
- Navigation aids – In addition to a map, for backcountry exploration, you might also find useful GPS and compasses. Remember that it is unlikely that you will get a signal on your smartphone in the backcountry, so don’t rely solely on Google Maps.
Where to camp near Zion national park?
When it comes to camping, these are the three campgrounds in and near Zion national park:
- Watchman Campground – It is open all year round and has popular sites for RVers. You can see famous monoliths here and enjoy spectacular sunsets and wildlife.
- South Campground – It closes in the winter. For a lot of people, this is an ideal campground, as it is within walking distance of the main visitor center. You can reserve your spot up to 14 days ahead of your arrival.
- The Lava Point Campground – This campground lets you camp at Zion’s highest point for free. However, keep in mind that it is a primitive campground and an hour’s drive from Zion Canyon.
Can I bring my dogs when I camp at Zion national park?
Dogs are not allowed on trails in Zion national park, with the only exception of the Pa’rus Trail. You may want to read our blog on the best tips for RVing and camping with dogs. If you decide to bring your furry friend with you, these are some guidelines for you:
- Remove your pet’s waste – you are responsible for bagging your pet’s poop from campgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots, etc.
- Keep your dog on a leash – you should keep your dog on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet.
- Respect wildlife – keep in mind that your dog can scare wildlife away, or even harass or harm it.
- Never leave your dog unattended – beware of the hot temperatures during most of the year. Never leave your dog inside a car, as it can pose significant health risks to it.
We hope that this article will serve you as a comprehensive guide for both difficult and easy hikes in Zion. It has all the best hikes, and instructions on what to wear and where to camp. All you have to do is enjoy your Zion adventure.