USA // Zion National Park hiking highlights
Located in the southwestern corner of Utah, Zion National Park might be a little bit of a detour for most road trippers out there, but it’s definitely a hiking highlight not to be missed! The cosy town of Springdale is an excellent starting point for spending a few days in this magnificent park.
Entering Zion National Park through the East Entrance is probably the most scenic route into this hiking mecca. As you are cruising along the winding Zion – Mount Carmel Highway towards Springdale you’ll see plenty of bighorn sheep.
They are very well camouflaged, but if you manage to spot one you’ll suddenly see his buddies popping up everywhere.
Make sure you stop at the Canyon Overlook Trail, it only takes a short hike to get one of the park’s most sweeping panoramas. A great first highlight to kick off your trip to Zion National Park!
Once you’re back on the road, keep following the Zion – Mount Carmel Highway through the spectacular Zion – Mount Carmel tunnel (once the longest of its kind in the USA). The highway flows into the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is only accessible by shuttle bus during the peak season. In that case you can leave your ride behind at the South Entrance of the park.
One of the USA’s best hikes ever!
Zion National Park is home to the Angels Landing Trail, one of the USA’s most thrilling hiking adventures! This spectacular hike starts at the Grotto Picnic Area, where you’ll need to follow the West Rim Trail first. After following the river the trail starts winding uphill through the narrow Refrigerator Canyon, named after the lovely cool breeze that flows through it.
Once you get through the refreshing canyon A LOT of stairs will take you to the start of the Angels Landing Trail. Come on, let’s get those hamstrings and quadriceps working!
When you make it to the top of the stairs, don’t start cheering that you’ve made it to the top of Angels Landing (like we did), because although you do get an awesome view of Zion’s valley when you peek over the edge, this is only the beginning… the best (and scariest) part is yet to come!
The Angels Landing Trail runs along the mountain ridge, and chains have been installed for you to hold… or rather… cling onto. Rest assured, you’ll be happy that they’re there! Some parts of the track are so narrow, that only a single step left or right separates you from a 450m (1,480ft) drop. Yikes!
The panoramic reward you get when you reach Angels Landing will make you instantly forget all the steep hiking, sweating and huffing and puffing that got you to this place! The dramatic scenery that unfolds as you are completing the final steps of the hiking trail will blow your mind away for sure!
Sit down and take it all in… this is one of the most sensational panoramas in the USA – if not the world!
A great place to unwind your nerves after the strenuous hike to Angels Landing is beautiful Weeping Rock, situated a little further down Zion’s valley. Just take place under the overhanging rock and watch the water running down the red cliffs. Now that’s a zen way to end your hiking trip!
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast – heavy rain, strong winds, flash floods can turn up suddenly, and you don’t want to be on top of Angels Landing when all hell breaks loose :-)
- Carry lots and lots of water! Especially when you’re hiking all the way up to Angels Landing… we ran out of water only halfway there (we were very thirsty after all the cheering thinking we had made it to the top…bummer!), and it’s still a loooong way back :-)
- When you’re traveling in a large vehicle check if you’re allowed to drive through the Zion – Mount Carmel Tunnel. Restrictions apply.
- If your legs are still up for it, there are other excellent hiking trails at the nearby Bryce Canyon National Park, located just 1,5 hours from Zion National Park!