If you’re looking for a different type of trail in Zion National Park, the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail may be the one for you.
It’s a heavily trafficked out and back trail that is just one mile long and you can complete it very quickly.
There is a grotto or sort of cave and it offers a gorgeous view of the Zion Canyon. It’s fun because the sandy, red trail passes through semi-shaded nooks, across a short plank wood bridge, a grotto/cave and various rocks. It feels like an adventure.
This is the type of trail where hiking poles will be helpful. You’re consistently up a few steps and down a few to keep moving forward. Pro tip: If you go at sunrise or sunset, the pictures are spectacular.
The thing about the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail, which makes it a bit overlooked, is that it’s on the upper east canyon portion of the park and you must drive to it. But this is a bonus! A trail in Zion that doesn’t require the use of the shuttle is a good thing. Spend your park time hiking instead of commuting!
To get to the trail, you must enter from the east entrance or drive through the Zion Scenic Drive to get to the trail. I recommend the scenic drive. This will take you through a series of switchbacks on Route 9 and the famous Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.
Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
The 1.1-mile tunnel was built in the 1920s and 30s. It goes right through the soft sandstone mountain. Because one of the pillars collapsed in 1958, the tunnel has been reinforced with concrete, so it shouldn’t happen again. Here’s hoping. It is now monitored electronically to warn park officials of the danger of a reoccurrence. Like I said: Fun! Adventure!
Once you exit the tunnel, there are two small parking lots near the trail. One is immediately on your right after exiting the tunnel. The other is just a short distance up the road on the left.
The trailhead is directly across from the first parking lot. It’s made of natural stone steps and it’s the steepest and most challenging part of the trail.
Zion Canyon Overlook Trail
The Zion Canyon Overlook Trail is an interesting trail because it requires strict attention and interesting footwork in some areas. At one point, for just a few steps, you must put each foot on a separate slanted rock and teeter through the foot to foot. There may be different ways to do it, but that’s probably the easiest.
Along the trail, at about the halfway point, you’ll come to the big open cave where you can rest for a spell and enjoy the shade. There are even a few boulders to sit on.
There are steep drops offs in a few places, so you must watch children with strict care.
At the end of Zion Canyon Overlook Trail, you come to the canyon overlook with the vast red formations on both sides towering 2,200 feet high. Looking off far into the distance, you can see the switchback road you’ve driven to get there.
A sign at the overlook points out the significant rock features now in front of you, including Towers of the Virgins, Steaked Wall, The West Temple, and Beehives. It is truly spectacular and worth a little bit of scrambling to see.
Find Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah.
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