Things To Do Near Zion

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Everyone loves to travel and explore new places that they haven’t been before. Some trips go better than others and this can be for many different reasons. One of the best ways to get the best experience from your trip is to know a little about the local secrets that each town has – the hidden gems in the community. That is exactly what I want to provide: How to have a better Zion vacation.

bike trails in zion

When To Travel

If you’re like me, you like to travel but not with hundreds of random strangers. Nature is best enjoyed with family and friends in quiet serenity. Zion is one of the most visited National Parks in the United States, but it does have times that are slower than others. Towards the end of July and the beginning of August are great times to visit. School hasn’t started yet in most places, but you won’t have a hard time booking a hotel room or waiting in lines to get on the shuttles.

If you aren’t a fan of the heat, November is a great time to travel. Zion has mild winters which allows the majority of the trails to stay open. The national park website has status updates each day of which trails are closed and why. There aren’t many people that travel during this time and hotel prices are down from their summer rates.


With the increase of visitors each year, parking in Zion and Springdale has grown into a nightmare. Only the people that wake up early are lucky enough to get a parking spot at the visitor’s center. There are parking lots that have recently been created to help alleviate traffic and allow people to stay closer to the park. However, you have to pay to stay there. Most of the hotels in Springdale allow free parking if you are staying with them. From there, you are able to take the free shuttle that circles around the town to the entrance of the park. Doing so will take away the stress of having to waste extra time finding the ‘best’ parking spot. Be careful though, most hotels issue a parking pass of some kind and check them daily and tow those cars that are parked without the permits.

Shuttle Rides

Zion ShuttleZion has a lot of history and no one knows it better than the park services. The shuttle that runs inside of the park has an audio track played through the speakers as it makes the journey up the canyon to the Temple of Sinawava. It explains how Zion came to be, certain events that happened inside the park and different names of the mountains. The facts are extremely interesting, and the ride is a great time to rejuvenate your energy before continuing your hike.

If you arrive to Springdale later in the day and don’t have time for a hike, a round trip on the shuttle takes about 80 minutes with all the stops. While on the shuttle, look out the window and keep your eyes open as it is very common to spot wild animals roaming in their natural habitats.

Surrounding Areas

Springdale sits in the middle of many great attractions. With Zion so close, many people overlook all the other things they are able to do. Bryce Canyon National Park and Snow Canyon State Park are only an hour away. Sand Hollow State Park is 45 minutes away and a great place to cool off after a day of hiking. It features beautiful red cliffs that surround it and a spot to cliff jump as well as beaches to relax and play with your family in the sand. Sand Hollow has a store to rent boats or wave runners as well. There are many incredible mountain biking trails that are close including those that are featured by the world-famous Red Bull Rampage. Other locations that are close by include Silver reef, Valley of Fire and Coral Pink sand dunes. Unpack once and spend more time exploring these great areas!

Rent Bicycles

A little-known fact about the shuttles is that they have spots on the front where bikes can be stored. A fun activity to do is take these bikes up to the last stop in the canyon and then ride them back down to the visitor’s center. The majority of the ride is downhill, allowing for a relaxing ride with the fresh air blowing across your face. As you get closer to the entrance of the park, there will be a sign that says “Pa’arus trail access”. This trail is one of the few that are bicycle accessible. It has a wonderful view of the back-country parts of Zion and another spot where wild animals are known to be seen. A road bike rental can cost less than $50 for the entire day, allowing for more exploring to be done after cruising in the Zion.

Canyon Overlook

canyon overlook trailThis is a less known trail that has a great view of Zion Canyon that differs from that of Angels Landing. Canyon Overlook is accessible by driving your car over to East Zion. It lays immediately to the left after exiting the first tunnel from the Springdale side. There is a small parking lot to the right, and not too much farther up the road lies more parking. The hike itself is 1-mile roundtrip and levels out after the initial stairs that lie at the beginning of the trail. The trail ends with a safety fence and a plaque describing the part of Zion that you are able to see from there.


During summer, Southern Utah reaches temperatures of 100 degrees +. It is important to stay hydrated and cool! The Virgin river flows through Springdale and is calm the majority of the year. This is the same river that carved out Zions’ mountains for millions of years! There are businesses in Springdale that rent out tubes to float down the river. This is an activity that is great for kids as well as adults. The company that rents the tubes also provides transportation as you exit the river to take you back to where you left your car. Depending on the time of year and how fast the river is flowing, it takes about 2 hours from start to finish.

Bumbleberry Pie

One of the keys to having a great experience in Zion is to stop by the Bumbleberry Gift Shop and try some bumbleberry pie! We make them fresh in our own bakery as well as jams, jellies and other baked goods. Your sweet tooth will love you for stopping in! After stopping by the bakery, our gift shop has plenty of fun souvenirs, t-shirts, hiking shoes and more for you to browse. You won’t regret treating yourself to some pie and ice cream. As the saying goes, the first trip you come for Zion. The second trip, you come for Bumbleberry Pie!Bumbleberry Pie

The number one reason visitors flock to Zion National Park each year is for the incredible hiking opportunities. With the park covering a vast 150,000 acres of land, there is plenty to explore. When it comes to different hikes within the park, Zion presents nearly endless possibilities. Hikers can enjoy strenuous hikes that take days to complete or just take a light stroll through paved walkways.

Since there are many choices of easy, moderate, or strenuous hikes, visitors of all experience and fitness levels will enjoy the trails of Zion. Even those who are not avid or experienced hikers will be able to fill many days with entertaining hiking excursions. With three difficulty levels to choose from and something different to enjoy on each trail, every hike through Zion will be an unforgettable adventure.


 Just because a hike is easy doesn’t mean it’s boring. The easy hikes throughout Zion National Park have many amazing views of the landscape. Most easy hikes take less than two hours to complete and will be on smooth trails. Hikers will not encounter difficult obstacles to overcome during these hikes, either. Though the hikes are short and leisurely, they are packed with experiences that will create unforgettable memories.

Canyon Overlook Trail

This short, easy hike has an unbelievable scenic view without having to hike for miles or drudge up steep ascents. At about a mile long, this hike takes less than an hour to complete, which means many hikers will spend more time marveling at the view than they spend hiking.

To get to Canyon Overlook Trail, visitors should go to the east end of Zion National Park. They will park their vehicles just before the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. From here, it is a short hike from the road that leads into a large, breathtaking cave. When hikers emerge from the cave, they will be treated to an amazing view of the park. This is the perfect hike for every visitor who wants to see the best of Zion and take some Instagram-worthy photos.

Lower Emerald Pools Trail

Round trip this hike is about 1 mile and takes about one hour. The paved trail leads you to 3 stunning waterfalls and a lower pool that makes it all worth it. The access for this trail is extremely convenient as well. You enter through the opposite side of the lane from the Zion Lodge parking lot. Unffortunately, this trail is closed during winter months, but for those visiting during the other parts of the year, be sure to add this to your Zion Hike Bucket List.

Pa’rus Trail

This trail takes about one and a half hours to complete and is approximately 3.5 miles. The hike is ideal for beginners. The paved trail takes you from the Virgin River near the south campground to the Zion-Canyon junction. The access for this trail is conveniently located near the south campground at Zion.

Beautiful iconic scene of The watchman at sunset, Zion National Park, Utah.

Riverside Walk

This hike is about as leisurely as a stroll through Zion can get. An even walking surface and shaded environment make this trail perfect for families. There are many incredible sights to see, including surroundings that are coved with hanging gardens of wildflowers especially during summer and spring, and a refreshing surprise at the end of the trail.
Riverside Walk takes hikers from the Temple of Sinawava to the Virgin River. This two-mile-long hike is known as the Gateway to the Narrows because the end of this trail is the beginning of the popular Narrows trail. When the entrance of the Narrows is reached, hikers can wade and splash through a refreshing pool of water before they head back. This short hike, which takes most hikers around two hours to complete, is an incredible way to experience the beauty of Zion without embarking on a long, strenuous journey.

Watchman Trail 

Among the many beautiful rock formations throughout Zion National Park is the Watchman. This formation shoots from the ground, towering above the vast red rock landscape. The Watchman Trail doesn’t climb to the staggering heights of the Watchman, but it does give a fantastic view of the formation from ground level.

The Watchman Trail is a three-mile-long hike that is a hidden gem within Zion. It is usually not crowded, so hikers can enjoy some peace and quiet on this hike. This hike takes about three hours to complete and will lead hikers along a red rock trail which is rough in some portions but can be completed by even the most inexperienced hikers. Since this trail is not shaded, it is best done in the morning or evening to avoid the scorching midday sun. Hikers and their families will love the connection they will feel with Zion during this light hike.

Weeping Rock Trail

Round trip to weeping rock trail is about 0.8km/0.5mi and to reach the trail it takes about half hour. The trail is about 98 feet, easy hike, and minor drop-offs. Smooth trail ends at rock-alcove with drenched springs. The walls are decorated with wildflower hanging gardens during summer and spring time. Trailside exhibits are possibly not available and access to weeping rock trail is through weeping rock parking lot.

Weeping Rock Trail--Under the Weeping Ledge
Photo Credit: justmecpb on flickr


Trails that are deemed moderate are usually difficult enough to challenge hikers of all experience levels in terms of distance and technical challenges. However, they are not so difficult that a physically fit novice wouldn’t be able to complete them. Moderate hikes can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. They can be challenging both physically and mentally, but these challenges are well worth it. After completing one of these moderately difficult hikes, hikers will feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

Zion Narrows 

There are two ways to hike the Narrows, but the least strenuous way to hike it is from the bottom up. This route doesn’t require technical skills like climbing and rappelling, but it still gives an incredible view of the slot canyon. Steep canyon walls, beautiful rock formations, and a floor of shallow water from the Virgin River will engulf hikers in the Zion landscape.
The entrance of the Narrows, at the end of Riverside Walk, ushers hikers into a completely different world. The average length of this hike is anywhere from three to eight miles and takes anywhere between two to six hours to complete. This narrow slot canyon is an out and back trail, which means hikers can turn around whenever they please. However, making it to the Wall Street portion of the Narrows should be the goal, as this portion of the canyon, with its high, smooth walls, is an unforgettable experience. Hiking any portion of Zion Narrows will be the highlight of a trip to Zion.
Zion NarrowsPhoto Credit: zionify by ramesh iyanswamy on

Observation Point

There is no better view of Zion National Park than the one found at Observation Point. For hikers that can handle it, this moderately strenuous hike is a must-see while in Zion. Not only are the views incredible, but the physical challenges along the way will bring out a sense of pride and accomplishment in all who complete it.
The Observation Point Trail begins at the Weeping Rock Trailhead and leads up to the area of Observation Point. The trail is eight miles long and will take the average hiker around four to six hours to complete. The climb is steep and leads hikers up to elevations of over 2,100 feet. The trail is hard paved rock, manmade from the canyon walls, so the rocky terrain isn’t an issue in most areas. The strenuous part of this climb is the steep elevation and the unrelenting sun. However, once the trail is completed, the view at the top is one of a kind.

Middle Emerald Pools Trail

The Middle Emerald Pools trail takes you to both the middle and lower pools. Round trip, the trail covers about 2 miles and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. As with the Lower Emerald Pools Trail, the Middle Emerald Pools Trail is closed during the winter.

Views to Zion National Park from Angels Landing hike

Angels Landing 

Perhaps the most well-known trail in Zion National Park, Angels Landing is full of incredible views, staggering heights, and daring challenges. The high elevations and narrow trails on this path will test the mental and physical fortitude of all who attempt it.
Angels Landing begins at the Grotto trailhead and leads hikers along a precarious red rock ridge. This five-mile-long trail, which takes around two to four hours to complete, features switchbacks, rocky terrain, and breathtaking heights. This trail gets so high and so precarious that it is not recommended for hikers who are uneasy with heights. Once hikers have reached the end of the hike they will have an unbelievable view of Zion. Those who dare embark on this journey will find that is was well worth the trip.


Difficult hikes are certainly not for inexperienced hikers. These hikes are long, grueling, and can take many days to complete. They often involve camping in the wilderness, using technical skills like rappelling and climbing, and having advanced knowledge of the landscape. The terrain of difficult hikes is incredibly unpredictable, ranging from steep climbs to deep pools of water and everything in between. Embarking on a difficult hike through Zion will be one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of a hiker’s life.

Kolob Arch

 This gorgeous trail along the red rock landscape leads to a massive arch formation with a beautiful scenic backdrop. Seeing Kolob Arch, which is the second largest arch in the world, is something that experienced, physically fit hikers can do in Zion National Park. It is one of the most beautiful formations in the park and provides endless photo opportunities.
This hike will take an entire day but will not require camping overnight. The 14-mile-long trail takes most hikers a full twelve-hour day, hiking from dawn to dusk. The trail is long, exposed to the harsh sun in many places, and has moderately rocky terrain. Whether hikers take Kolob Canyons Road at Lee Pass or Hop Valley Trailhead to get to Kolob Arch, it will be a long journey with a beautiful, scenic payoff.

The Barracks 

Avid hikers who are looking to get away from the crowds on more popular trails will love hiking The Barracks. This section of Zion is on the East Fork of the Virgin River. It gives visitors all the amazing views they would see on the North Fork, but none of the crowding.
This 20-mile-long journey is not for the faint of heart. This hike takes most people two or three days to complete. Parts of this hike are along Parunaweap Canyon where the layers of red rock on the canyon walls surround hikers. Other portions are in the heat of the sun on the rocky landscape. Since this hike requires camping, hikers will need to obtain the proper camping permits and make sure they adhere to park rules.

Zion National Park, Utah, USA

West Rim Trail

 The West Rim Trail packs all the scenic beauty of Zion into one journey. Along the trail, hikers will see gorgeous trees and other plant life, small streams, wildlife, and, of course, stunning red rock. This strenuous hike is not for inexperienced hikers, but those able to make the journey will be glad they did.
This trail begins at Lava Rock and winds its way through the most beautiful areas of the park. If hikers desire, they can even take a side trail to hike Angels Landing. When hiked straight through without detouring to other trails, West Rim Trail is about 18 miles long and takes two days. The amazing sights on this trail should put it on every experienced hiker’s Zion bucket list.

Pick a Trail and Enjoy the Hike 

Hikes through Zion give visitors the chance to see many incredible natural sights, test their physical and mental strength, and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after hiking any of the above trails. Around every turn, there is something new and exciting to experience while on a hike in Zion National Park. All visitors have to do is pick their trail and let their journey begin.

Southern Utah has been gaining quite a lot of popularity over the last several years for it’s beauty and distinct, unique landscapes. Just recently Snow Canyon State Park as well as Sand Hollow Reservoir were visited and used for Katy Perry’s new music video for her song “Rise”.

The music video captures Snow Canyon and Sand Hollow so perfectly and really shows how stunning and captivating they really are. The song fits perfectly with the landscape as well! It’s not a surprise to us local Southern Utahans that these parks in our area are finally getting the recognition they deserve. We’ve known how lovely they are all along!

Located anywhere else, Snow Canyon would be a National Park. The Park offers some of the most majestic panoramic views, contrasting colors and stunning landscapes. This place is a photographers dream come true (and apparently a music video producers as well), as it is one of the most picturesque places in Southern Utah! Even on hot days with the blazing hot sun washing out colors, this place still manages to produce some of the most stunning scenes. If you have friends or family who are local to this area, they or someone they know surely has wedding photos, senior pics, etc. that were taken at Snow Canyon.

Photo Credit: Dave Sansom on flickr

Not only is Snow Canyon one of the most beautiful places along with Zion and Bryce, but it offers its visitors a plethora of fun activities! Enjoy camping, repelling, biking, hiking and more when in the park.

There are so many different and unique hikes here that it is hard to pinpoint exactly which ones are more favored. In our opinion they’re all worth trying. Definitely give the lava caves a go! There are a lot of little hidden gems throughout this park, each so different from the other, making every visit to this park a new and exciting one.

For those who are less familiar with Zion, Kolob Canyons is part of Zion and is located on the northwestern side of the park with an entirely separate entrance. This is a great place to hike and explore if you are looking for a little bit of solitude as it has fewer visitors. Most don’t know that Kolob is part of the Zion Park, which means that you can use your annual or interagency passes! Kolob Canyons offers several hikes and overlooks and is definitely just as stunning as the main part of Zion National Park, just a bit more crimson in color! Here are a few of the hikes you can take if you visit Kolob Canyons.

Taylor Creek

If you’re looking for a fun family hike with tons of wild life then Taylor Creek is definitely a hike you will want to go on. This is a 5 mile hike that takes most 4 hours to reach the end and back. This trail takes you into a narrow box canyon toward the double arch cove. On the trail you will criss cross over Taylor Creek multiple times giving you the chance to splash and play in the water to cool off before moving forward. Prepare to be captivated by Tucupit and Paria towering 1700ft above you as you reach the end of the trail to the Double Arch Alcove.

Timber Creek Overlook

This is a short and easy mile long trail that takes most about 30 minutes to complete. The trail leads you along a small ridge offering beautiful views of Pine Valley, Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace. If you are hiking in the spring months you will get to see the trail and mountains covered in wild flowers making the view and experience just that much more spectacular.

Kolob Arch Trail

Kolob Arch is the second largest arch in the world! So getting a chance to see this amazing rock formation is quite the experience. The trail is for the more advanced hikers as it is more strenuous and takes about 7 hours one way. This is a good hike in and camp experience! For more information on the Kolob Arch trail heads visit the Visitors Center.

Kolob Arch
Photo Credit: Jason Benton on flickr

With all that you can do in Zion and near the park, one of the more favored activities is mountain biking. Especially here in southern Utah! There are so many fun trails to ride! If you are visiting Zion and want to take a really fun mountain bike ride, check out Gooseberry Mesa, this is by far one of the most popular rides for mountain bikers in the area.

Check out this cool video of a Gooseberry excursion:

Video Credit: Brandt Anderson on YouTube.

Gooseberry is a fun and exciting Mountain Bike trail with plenty of adrenaline pumping obstacles, this is definitely a trail for those who are a bit more experienced, but beginners (who are daring) can brave it as well.

Located just west of Zion National Park, the directions start at Smithsonian Butte Rd. from here you will go for about 2.8 miles until you reach Gooseberry Mesa Rd. This is an unmarked road, so you will need to keep your eye out for a fence on the left hand side. You will then turn left through the fence onto Gooseberry Rd. Pass the cattle gaurd, and keep going for about 3.6 miles. Soon you will come to a fork in the road, this is where the trail map and restrooms are located, turn left and keep going for about another 1.1 miles, there will soon be parking on the right side.

Once you have reached the trailhead, take off, be safe and ENJOY THE RIDE!