Utah’s first national park, Zion has become a destination for visitors from around the world. This compact Utah gem welcomed a record 4.5 million visitors in 2018. However, many visitors never leave the canyon floor or the Narrows area, so with a little effort and elevation gain, you can literally get above the crowds and experience the wonder of this majestic canyon landscape. This has been the most crowded park I’ve visited in Utah, but choosing the right trail will help keep the bumper-the-bumper feeling to a minimum.
View Angel’s Landing from above
The Observation Point hike rewarded us and the other hardy hikers with a cliffside trail and canyon before opening up to postcard panoramas of Zion’s incredible natural features. The high point of this hike sits about 700’ above Angel’s Landing, and I think it’s one of the park’s best vantage points. On this hike, you’ll get a view not just of the park, but also a bird’s-eye-view of the Landing from above.
How long does it take to hike Observation Point in Zion?
The Observation Point hike takes about four to five hours round-trip. To gain access to the trailhead, we caught the Zion Shuttle at the visitor’s center and disembarked at Weeping Rock, stop #7. The trail to Observation Point is a steady climb with pretty much the same gain on each switchback. It gains over 2,000’ in the four miles from trailhead to end point, and starts climbing immediately, winding up the side of the cliff towards Echo Canyon. It opens up from here, and continues to climb before flattening out for the final stretch to Observation Point. The views get better as you near the top, so don’t worry about stopping for photos around each bend. There is no parking at the trailhead, but the Zion shuttle systems are very frequent and convenient and we had an easy time figuring it out.
Is the Observation Point hike dangerous?
While there are some cliff edges and long drops, the Observation Point hike is far less dangerous than the Angel’s Landing hike (and with arguably better views). Unlike Angel’s Landing, there are no narrow and exposed edges that will have you clinging to the rock wall or using chains for added safety. However, it is longer and more strenuous than the Angel’s landing hike, so be sure to pack lots of water and be prepared for the full-day workout.
Note: As of August, 2019, the Observation Point via East Rim Trail and the Weeping rock trail are closed until further notice due to major rockfall. For more information on current trail conditions in Zion, the National Park service has all the info you need here.