4 Trails You Gotta Hike at Zion (and Angel’s Landing Isn’t One of Them)

Really, anywhere you go in Zion is breathtaking—but there are particular trails that bring unmatched inner-peace and contentment. And because I’m feeling nice today, I thought I’d share them with you. 😉

Our most recent trip was in December 2018, and as an introverted hermit, I loved the feeling of solitude a national park brings in the off-season. No obnoxious crowds or fistfights in the gift shop over the last “I hiked the Narrows” t-shirt.

It was just me having a little one-on-one time with nature. Pier was there too of course, but he was having his own meeting with nature. That’s the beauty of Zion. It’s so titanic and awe-inspiring that you can have your self-reflection and alone time even when you’re not alone.

After multiple visits, it felt like it was time to write an official listicle-style post about the trails there for anyone visiting Zion. These are trails that spoke to me, lifted my spirit, and shaped who I am as a human person. I hope they do the same for you.

Observation Point (for the Best Views)

SamObservationPoint copy

“Should I hike Angel’s Landing or Observation Point?”

It’s a question most first-time Zion visitors ask themselves. Actually, a lot of first-timers go straight to Angel’s Landing without even realizing there’s another arduous, steps-away-from-certain-death trail with even more stunning views (in my humble opinion).

So if you’re having the Angel’s Landing versus Observation Point debate, congratulations! You’re already more informed than most first-timers. As someone who has hiked both, here’s why I think Observation Point is superior to Angel’s Landing:

  • For one, you’re 600 feet higher than the people on Angel’s Landing. If you look in the photo above, Angel’s Landing is that first sloped cliff on the bottom right. So your view from Observation Point actually includes Angel’s Landing!
  • It’s less crowded, meaning there are fewer Instagram idiots taking dangerous selfies.
  • When you reach the top, there’s more room to relax and have an actual meal break. At Angel’s Landing, there’s usually a steady stream of people wandering around and taking photos so your own enjoyment is timeboxed.

In the summer, few things feel better than dipping your sore, swollen feet into the cool Virgin River at the bottom of Observation Point.

Chipmunk at Zion National Park
A fearless chipmunk takes in the view at Observation Point. He will also try to steal your food, so watch out!

Pa’Rus Trail (for Kids, Pets, and the Disabled)

In my experience, parks will often scatter a few “easy” trails out of obligation without taking the hiker’s experience into consideration. In other words, easy hikes usually mean lame views.

Not the case with Zion’s Pa’Rus Trail.

You don’t have to spend hours hiking and sweating buckets to enjoy dramatic views of the canyon. This is a paved, 1.7-mile trail running from the South Campground near the visitor’s center to Canyon Junction. You can walk back the way you came or hop on the shuttle when you’re done. It’s the perfect trail for cyclists, pets, and people with disabilities.

If you only have a day to spend in the park, or if you need a family-friendly trail for kids and grandparents, take the Pa’Rus Trail.

The Narrows (for the Most Unique Views)

I’m not really sure what I can say about the Narrows that hasn’t already been said. It’s breathtaking, it’s transformative, it’s let’s-take-a-picture-every-minute beatific.

When we hiked the Narrows in December, we only came across maybe 20 people in our six-hour trek. If you have the opportunity to go in the off-season, do it. The days might be a little shorter, but there are fewer people and fewer flash floods. Dress warmly and appropriately, or you will be miserable, trust me. You can grab everything you need at Zion Adventure Company. They’ll hook you up for a reasonable price, and the gear is good. I had my doubts about how the neoprene socks would hold up against the frigid water, but they worked like magic. We couldn’t have made the journey without them.

Watchman Trail (for the Best Sunrise Views)

If you want to beat the crowds and not wake up at 3 am to scurry up Angel’s Landing to watch the sunrise, I recommend the Watchman Trail. This is a moderately strenuous 3-mile loop trail that begins near the Visitor’s Center. You’ll be greeted with stunning views of the rock face glowing with the new day and a sweeping overlook of Springdale.

I’ve watched the sunrise twice here, and I’ve found it to be an excellent way to warm up for the rest of the day. It’s strenuous enough that it gets the blood pumping but not so strenuous that you’re wiped out by lunch.

If you’ve been to Zion, I would love to hear about your favorite trail! We can’t wait to go back again soon one day.

P.S. If you find yourself in Zion, make sure to stop by the Cactus Room, which sits off Highway 9 going into the park. Bob’s buffalo burgers are the best!

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