For a truly EPIC and unforgettable hiking experience, look no further than Observation Point in gorgeous Zion National Park! This monster-of-a-hike traverses up the red rock cliffs to a completely stunning viewpoint perched high above the canyon floor.
This hike is often overlooked because it exists in a park with several other hikes of epic proportion (such as Angels Landing or the Narrows). This is great news for those who are searching for a similar intensity of adventure and beauty of the more famous trails…..but without the all the crowds!
Observation Point stands at 6507 feet above sea level, which is over 700 feet higher than the extremely popular Angels Landing Trail. That’s definitely brag-worthy — you can look down at the tiny specks on Angels Landing and pat yourself on the back for having the stamina to conquer the higher viewpoint!
What You Need to Know
This hike leaves no time to warm up your hiking muscles — almost from the moment you step onto this trail, the grueling climb begins! Switchback after switchback after switchback takes you higher and higher up the cliffs. The views are already awe-inspiring…and it hasn’t even been a mile yet.
The stunning red cliffs of Zion National Park engulf you as you trek further along the trail. After 0.7 miles of climbing up the switchbacks, you will reach the junction to the Hidden Canyon Trail. This is a great trail to hit on your way back down (if you still have the energy), but for now you’ll want to head left up the remaining switchbacks to continue along the trail to Observation Point.
As the switchbacks begin to level out, take a moment to celebrate the amount of ground (and elevation) you’ve covered already. Look down the canyon wall for the zig-zagging trail that you just conquered!
I highly recommend getting up early to hit up this trail. As you can see in the picture below, the only way you will get shade along these switchbacks is if the sun is behind the cliffs — and trust me, you’re going to want shade. Hit the trail in the morning and you’ll be much more comfortable!
From here, the trail takes a turn and enters Echo Canyon. You’ll be glad to know that it also flattens out a little bit and usually offers some shade and a nice breeze.
Aside from the chance to cool-off and give your calves a little break, you’ll love Echo Canyon for its beautiful mini slot canyons!
If you’re lucky enough in your timing, you may see a collection of spectacular wildflowers along the trail as well. I have been to Zion many times but have never timed it right — until just recently. These photos were taken in mid-May along the trail to Observation Point (mostly in the Echo Canyon section of the hike).
The trail continues on, gradually gaining elevation as it winds further away from Zion Canyon and the crowds. At this point, Zion Canyon is completely hidden from view and you are left to explore the unique environment typical to the East side of the park.
After 2.1 miles, you’ll pass a junction that connects to the East Rim Trail (a stunning backcountry trail). This marks the beginning of your final ascent towards Observation Point. The switchbacks begin to become more strenuous and exposed as you make your way around the mountain and up, up, up!
When this set of switchbacks begins, you’ve still got about 1100 feet of elevation gain. The trail hugs the side of the cliff and is exposed to a dramatic drop-off along a few sections. Luckily, the path is wide and the crowds are sparse enough that the trail feels pretty safe.
If you are extremely afraid of heights, this trail may still be incredibly fear-inducing. For most people, it will likely get your heart pumping and your adrenaline going but you won’t have any problem continuing on. I’ve included several pictures of the trail to give you an idea of what to expect.
The view of Zion Canyon begins to emerge as you climb higher up the cliffs, offering a small taste of what awaits you at the end of the trail. It is absolutely breathtaking!
These switchbacks continue for almost a mile until finally the path turns to dirt and begins to level out. From here, Observation Point is just under a mile away along this mostly flat section of the trail.
Its time to start getting excited! Seriously — you will never be so happy to see red dirt!
Nothing will prepare you for your first glimpse of Zion Canyon from Observation Point!
The fiery red and white rock cliffs frame the distant horizon, the Virgin River snakes its way along the canyon floor, and the top of the famous Angels Landing is nearly a thousand feet below you. You are on top of the world!
Take some time to enjoy this PHENOMENAL view and congratulate yourself for conquering this epic trail! When you’re ready, head back down the way you came.
The hike to Observation Point is 8 miles round trip and gains 2120 feet of elevation. Because of the length of the trail and the difficulty of the switchbacks, I would rate this hike as strenuous.
Looking for more hikes and activities in Zion National Park?? Click here to explore the 10 things you can’t miss in Zion!
The Observation Point Trail begins at the Weeping Rock Trailhead. To get here, take the free shuttle bus ride up Zion Canyon from the Visitor Center and disembark at Weeping Rock. The trail begins at the south end of the parking lot and across the bridge spanning the creek.
The shuttle is required from March – October and during this time you are not allowed to drive your own car. If the free shuttle is not running (November – February), you may park your car in a small parking area at the trailhead.