Southwest Utah’s Zion National Park is a kaleidoscopic treasure mine of clear blue skies, sweeping red rock and tumbling white-tipped waterfalls. Covering an area of 229 miles, you could easily spend weeks at the world-renowned park and not see it all, but if you just have a short weekend away from work, be sure to check out these three gems.
Aptly named, Observation Point provides expansive views of Zion National Park, including Echo Canyon, the Three Patriarchs and the precarious Angels landing.
Like anything good in life, you’ll have to work for it. As one of Zion National Park’s most strenuous hikes, you’ll gain more than 2,100 feet in elevation through a steep four-mile uphill ascent. Expect it to take two to three hours, one way, from the Weeping Rock Trailhead.
“You can see the entire valley, from top to bottom, layers of white rock, red rock, then the greenery of the valley floor,” photographer, David Bryson said. “Looking down on Angels Landing is a plus.”
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a short and easy hike with a 100-foot elevation climb that still provides stunning views of Lower Zion Canyon, Canyon Overlook is a great choice.
It begins just east of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel by the ranger booth. Perfect for families, it offers wildflowers and views of hoodoos and wildlife along a one-mile hike. Most of the drop-offs are secured by rails, but not everywhere is railed, so keep the kids close.
“It’s a quick and easy one to fit into your day, with beautiful views and it’s rarely too busy,” Margie Hare said. “Plus you usually see mountain sheep on the trail. The extended version of the mountain and dropping into a slot canyon is off the beaten path and incredible.”
Ranging from easy to moderately strenuous, .6 miles to 1.5 miles one way, the Emerald Pools trails lead to a unique oasis of rushing waterfalls and shimmering algae-green pools amidst the red rock. Another great option for families, the Emerald Pools trails can get crowded during peak season.
The trailhead starts across the highway from Zion Lodge. The Lower Trail rambles along the canyon to the cliff base where two small streams trickle into the shimmering Lower Emerald Pool. The Middle Trail ascends to several Lower Pool viewpoints and connects to a steep descent to the Lower Pool itself. The Middle Trail leads to the Upper Trail, which more rigorously climbs up to the larger Upper Emerald Pool.
“The trails are well laid out and there are great spots to take pictures along the way,” Devin Udy said. “When you get to the Upper Pool, it’s a beautiful view and there are a lot of rocks to play around on and take more pictures.”