Don’t miss out on anything during your trip! ===> Click here to get your FREE Zion checklist!
6. Checkerboard Mesa
On the east side of Zion National Park lies a unique formation called the Checkerboard Mesa. The wind and water have carefully carved out a gorgeous checkerboard pattern that is unlike anything you have ever seen!
What You Need To Know
Traveling the highway to the east side of the park is a completely different experience and is well worth the time.
If you head this direction, be aware that there is no running water along the way! Bathrooms are scarce but can be found near the Canyon Overlook Trail or at the East Entrance.
If you are coming in from Springdale, follow Highway 9 east for 6 miles to the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Go 1.1 miles through the tunnel. Drive along Highway 9 (Mt. Carmel Highway) for another 6 miles or so until you reach the Checkerboard Mesa Viewpoint.
7. Angels Landing
Towering above Zion Canyon, Angels Landing is one of the most iconic and notorious rock formations in the United States. The trail to the top is a daring and heart-pumping challenge, pushing the limits of even the most seasoned hikers.
Each year, thousands of visitors from around the globe flock to the trailhead, excited and anxious in their attempt to summit the monolith that (as stated by an early explorer) “only an angel could land on.”
8. Court of the Patriarchs
These three prominent and recognizable sentinels seem to be guarding this beautiful place! Named after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the Bible, the Court of the Patriarchs is a great place to capture the beauty of the surrounding red rock cliffs.
What You Need to Know
You can see this view from the shuttle as it drives by, but if you’d like a better photo, there is the option to get out and take a short 5-minute walk to get above the trees.
The Court of the Patriarchs is within Zion Canyon, so if the shuttles are running, you will not be able to drive your own car. The shuttle stop is sandwiched between the Canyon Junction and the Zion Lodge shuttle stops.
9. Secret Hike to Pine Creek Waterfall
This hike will not be in any of the literature that the park rangers give to you when you enter Zion, but I believe it is a must-see attraction! I’ve written an entire post on the charms of this little trail, and you can read more about it here.
If you like to travel off-the-beaten-path and lose the crowds, you can find two more secret spots in this itinerary!
10. The Narrows
A colossal adventure is ready and waiting for you — all you need to do is jump in with both feet! If hiking through a gorgeous river with stunning sheer cliffs everywhere you turn sounds like fun, lace up your shoes and head for this world-famous trail.
What You Need to Know
If you search the internet for pictures of Zion National Park, chances are that the first pictures to come up will be of the Narrows. This trail is absolutely breathtaking and very well-known to the hiking world. It’s on everyone’s bucket list!
You will be wading or swimming in the river for the majority of the hike so plan accordingly and be sure to take the right gear (especially good footwear and a hiking stick). The Narrows Trail is subject to flash flooding so always check the reports at the Visitor Center before attempting this trail.
Day-hiking the Narrows is allowed without a permit if you are starting from the Riverside Walk (see #3 in this list) and not going any further than Big Spring, five miles upstream from the shuttle stop at the Temple of Sinawava.
Because there is no formal destination, you can make this ten-mile round trip hike as long or as short as you would like, but absolutely do not trek past Big Spring if you do not have a permit. Even just heading up the river for a mile or two will provide you with an awesome hike!
Pets are not permitted on this trail.
Warning: Do not attempt to complete the whole 16 mile Narrows trail without extensive planning and preparation. Permits are required for the Narrows if staying overnight or hiking from the top down. For more information on hiking the Narrows from the top down (the whole experience!), consult this page.
These directions are for day-hiking from the bottom up. Start at the Riverside Walk, located at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. If the Zion Shuttle is running, you will not be able to drive your own car, and you will need to exit the shuttle at the Temple of Sinawava. The trailhead has bathrooms and drinking water. Walk on the Riverside Walk for one mile until the paved trail ends and the stairs take you down to the river. From here on out, you will be river hiking!