Zion - Angel’s Landing
Does teetering on a razor edge of rock 1,000 feet above the valley floor sound fun to you? No? Then don’t teeter. Clutch tightly with both hands to the chain that has been thoughtfully bolted into the trail. The expansive views of Zion Canyon from Angel’s Landing are worth the trip, provided you do not have a debilitating fear of heights.
Yes, the final stretch up to Angel’s Landing, called the Hogsback, is a rocky ridge with sheer drops on either side that feels terribly dangerous. But when you make it up (clinging for dear life to the chain handrail), you’ll be rewarded by the stunning views at Angel’s Landing plus bragging rights when you get home.
Zion - The Narrows Riverside Walk
This your chance to go to without actually hiking The Narrows. Start at the Temple of Sinawava, where you’ll notice the walls of the canyon starting to close in on either side of the Virgin River. Meander down the sidewalk, splash in the river, or just stop and let your jaw drop in wonder. At the end of the walk, you’ll notice people starting to head up the river; these are the serious people who are “hiking the Narrows.” If you prefer to keep your feet dry, turn around, and enjoy it all again on the way back.
Zion - The Subway
This is the classic semi-technical hike of The Narrows, requiring ropes, bouldering, a knowledge of canyoneering and a shuttle waiting for you at the bottom. If you can come up with that stuff (and aren’t afraid of getting your feet wet or enclosed spaces) you’ll be rewarded with waterfalls, pools, a tunnel of red rock (the “subway”) and dinosaur tracks.
This hike starts at the Wildcat Trailhead on Kolob Reservoir Road 15 miles above the town of Virgin. When you reach Left Fork Canyon and Russell Creek, you’ll scramble down into the slot canyon, where the real fun begins. You’ll be hiking through the river, down waterfalls and over boulders. It’s a steep climb out at the Left Fork Trailhead, where you best have a car waiting for you. If not, you’ll have a really long walk home.
Zion - Canyon Overlook Trail
Looking for the perfect, expansive shot of the valley floor? Don’t miss Canyon Overlook Trail, which leads to a lookout that has been delighting photographers for decades. Hang on to your kids, as there are some cliff edges here, but otherwise every hiker can (and should) do this trail. You’ll find the trailhead at the east entrance of the Mount Carmel Tunnel.
Zion - Weeping Rock
This popular site is a major stop on the shuttle that runs through Zion Canyon, making it very accessible. An easy trail (not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs but doable for most everyone else) leads to an unusual sandstone cliff covered in tiny rivulets of water. The tears of this rocky wall feed ferns and mosses, while the Great White Throne towers overhead.
Zion - Lower Emerald Pool
Across the street from Zion Lodge you’ll find this paved trail, which makes it possible for strollers and wheelchairs to navigate up to this little oasis. Here, water from the Middle Emerald Pool above drips down the sandstone and into the Lower Emerald Pool, nourishing lush hanging gardens and occasionally turning into an actual waterfall during spring runoff. When you feel like you’re about to crinkle up and turn to sandstone yourself in the heat of a Zion summer, consider a rest at Lower Emerald Pool.
Zion - Checkerboard Mesa
Zion has plenty of must-see attractions for armchair geologists, and this is one of the most famous. This sandstone butte is covered in crosshatches — horizontal cross-bedding formed over eons by layers of windblown sand and vertical cracks caused by stress and erosion on the stone surface. If you’re thinking you should try playing checkers on the side of this mountain and take some sweet pics, I’m thinking you’re right.
Checkerboard Mesa isn’t on the shuttle route, so you’ll have to drive over to this hunk of rock if you want to see it. It’s located just inside the East Entrance to the park.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive provides the chance to see the towering majesty of Zion National Park from your automobile. This road along the valley floor runs from the visitor center all the way to the Temple of Sinawava, and past many of Zion’s most famous features, including the Great White Throne, the Grotto, and Angel’s Landing. Due to the number of visitors in the park these days, you can only drive your car through this area during the winter; the rest of the year, you’ll have to take one of the park’s shuttle buses.
Zion - Many Pools
Here’s a hike that will get you away from everybody else, and give you a view of hoodoos, interesting pothole formations, and maybe even a few tadpoles. This “trail” is a drainage, one of a pair commonly called the Root Canals. Rain and snowmelt cascade down the rock walls here, filling the pothole formations and forming fun little pools. Many Pools is off the shuttle route (BYOC — bring your own car), on the east side of the park, along UT-9.