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Hiking in Zion National Park: Ultimate Guide

Hiking in Zion National Park: Ultimate Guide
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Whether it's for an elopement, bridals/formals, looking at a wedding venue, honeymoon or even just for fun with the two of you, a hike in Zion National Park is hard to beat.

Zion National Park, located in southwestern Utah, offers a breathtaking landscape of towering cliffs, narrow canyons, and pristine wilderness. With over 200 miles of trails (yes, it might be within a canyon, but that doesn't limit its possibilities), hiking in Zion is a common pastime for adventurous couples (and their families). That's why we put together a brief guide that will provide you with a great overview of the best hikes in Zion National Park, tips for choosing the right trail, and essential information to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Choosing the Right Trail for Your Group

It's common for brides and grooms to bring their families to the park before or after the wedding.  So before you head off on your hiking adventure, it's crucial to choose a trail that suits your group's abilities and interests. Zion National Park offers a wide range of hiking opportunities, from easy family-friendly strolls to strenuous multi-day backpacking trips. Take a moment and check out trail descriptions and difficulty ratings for a safe and enjoyable time with everyone in your group.

Remember that your safety is your responsibility, and it's essential to stay informed about current trail conditions and closures.  Also, please be sure to leave no trace as you enjoy this incredible park.

The Top 5 Short-and-Easy Hikes in Zion

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These family-friendly trails provide a gentle introduction to hiking in Zion, with minimal elevation gain and manageable distances.

1. Emerald Pools Trail

Rating: Easy family stroll

The Emerald Pools Trail, a Zion classic, begins at the Zion Lodge and takes you through a sandstone amphitheater to a lush oasis featuring three distinct pools. This easy hike is perfect for families, offering stunning views of waterfalls and beautiful desert scenery.

2. Weeping Rock

Rating: Very easy quick family stroll

Weeping Rock is a famous landmark in Zion National Park, offering a short and accessible trail for all ages (you know, for bringing along those little nieces and nephews). This large alcove features lush hanging gardens, fed by water seeping through the sandstone formations above.

3. Riverside Walk

Rating: Easy family stroll (wheelchair accessible)

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The Riverside Walk is a level, paved trail that follows the Virgin River through a lush canyon lined with hanging gardens and towering cliffs. This wheelchair-accessible trail is suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.  It's actually quite common to find patrons walking this trail with strollers from start to finish.

4. The Watchman Trail

Rating: Easy to moderately strenuous day hike (wheelchair accessible)

Starting near the Visitor Center, The Watchman Trail ascends approximately 300 feet to a viewpoint overlooking the iconic Watchman peak and surrounding landscape. This moderately strenuous hike is exposed to the sun, making it best suited for cooler days or morning hikes.  It's one of the tougher outings depending on how far you're planning to go, and, unlike Riverside Walk, isn't suitable for a stroller.

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As far as difficulty, you're still not looking at a very tough trail.  Just a light sweat, perhaps.

5. Canyon Overlook Trail

Rating: Easy short hike with some exposure

The Canyon Overlook Trail, located just east of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, offers a short hike to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the main canyon. This must-do hike is suitable for most visitors, though it does feature some exposed sections that may be challenging for those with a fear of heights.  Rated as one of the most popular, it's definitely a great one for a diverse family in both ages and hiking abilities.  As a note, if any member of your party has had a knee replacement, this may not be the best choice as much of the beginning is climbing stairs.

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Overall, it's a visitor favorite among the easier hikes in Zion National Park.

Top 5 Harder Day Hikes in Zion National Park

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For those seeking a more challenging experience, these day hikes provide increased elevation gain and longer distances.

1. Angels Landing

Rating: Fairly strenuous and exposed day hike

Angels Landing is a legendary hike in Zion National Park, featuring steep switchbacks and exposed sections requiring the use of chains for protection. This trail offers spectacular views of the canyon below, but is not recommended for those with a fear of heights or balance issues.

2. Zion Narrows Day Hike

Rating: Moderately strenuous/strenuous river hiking

The Zion Narrows Day Hike allows visitors to experience the park's famous slot canyon without the need for technical skills or equipment. This strenuous hike requires wading through the river and navigating rocky terrain, but offers unparalleled canyon scenery.

3. West Rim Trail (Bottom-Up Day Hike)

Rating: Fairly strenuous to very strenuous day hike

The West Rim Trail, a Zion classic, traverses the upper west plateau, connecting Lava Point with the Grotto Trailhead in the main canyon. This strenuous hike offers outstanding views and diverse terrain, making it a favorite among experienced hikers.

4. East Mesa Trail (to Observation Point)

Rating: Moderate day hike

The East Mesa Trail provides an alternative route to the popular Observation Point, starting on the upper east plateau and following a mostly level path through diverse landscapes. This moderate hike offers stunning views of the park's unique sandstone formations.

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5. The Subway from the Bottom (Non-Technical Hike)

Rating: Strenuous day hike

The non-technical Subway hike, requiring a wilderness permit, takes visitors on a challenging, backcountry adventure through cascades and stepped waterfalls to the iconic lower Subway formation. This strenuous hike is suitable for experienced hikers, offering a truly unforgettable experience if you're up for it.

One Last Tip...

Staying Hydrated Out There

After a long day of hiking in Zion National Park, it's essential to stay hydrated to replenish lost fluids and maintain your energy levels. Be sure to carry plenty of water with you on the trail, as well as electrolyte-enhanced beverages or snacks to help replace essential minerals. Remember to listen to your body and take breaks as needed to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

It's hot for much of the year due to the desert climate and elevation.  If you feel like you need an IV hydration boost, you can always check out this company that services the Zion area in a pinch.  However, if you or anyone in your party feel you have a dehydration emergency, listen to your gut and seek medical attention.

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Have fun in Zion!

With its diverse range of trails and stunning landscapes, Zion National Park offers a truly unforgettable hiking experience for all visitors. By choosing the right trail, staying informed about current conditions, and staying hydrated, you can make the most of your time in this remarkable park.

We appreciate all travelers, couples, and vendors who do their part to keep our beautiful parks clean. Please leave no trace as you visit, including not leaving anything behind, staying on designated trails, following local regulations, and respecting enforcement and wildlife.

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