Hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park? Here’s everything you need to know.
Canyon Overlook Trail is the most rewarding, easy hike in Zion National Park. Besides having a gorgeous view of the canyon at the end of the hike, we love it because it showcases different landscapes rather than a paved sidewalk the entire way. There are a couple of exposed cliffs, but overall, it’s a well-maintained, safe trail.
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Last Updated: October 25, 2023
How to Hike the Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park
Distance: 1-mile round trip
Elevation gain: 163 feet.
Parking: The parking lot is just east of the 1.1-mile-long tunnel, where you can leave your car. If the lot is full, there are also a few areas to pull off further down the road. Keep in mind this is off the main shuttle route.
It begins by climbing stairs. You then walk along a path of sandstone and packed dirt. The trail is marked and highly trafficked, making it easy to follow.
Halfway through, you’ll come across a wooden walkway that takes you through an alcove, or cave, as most people call it. You’ll see some fern and greenery growing here, fed by water seeping through the rocks. A better example of this is the famous Weeping Rock.
After a couple more turns, you’ll start to see rock hoodoos, then come out on the clearing where you can see the canyon. A metal plaque at the viewpoint points out the prominent landmarks and plenty of space to sit and enjoy the view. The hike took us an hour, but half of that time was spent taking photos at the viewpoint.
Look, a mountain goat! Can you see him? I couldn’t.
We brought the worst lens for shooting wildlife, but who wants to lug around a telephoto lens on a hike? We always regret not bringing our telephoto zoom lens whenever we see wildlife, but when we do, we see absolutely nothing! When we don’t, everyone wants to come out and play. Story of my life. lol
Essential Tips for Hiking Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park
- Best time to photograph is sunrise or dusk because of the way the sun is facing.
- Photo gear to bring: Our photos were taken with Canon 5D Mark III & 35mm / 1.4 L lens. We recommend the 70-200mm / 2.8L for wildlife photos. Some might prefer a wider lens like a 24mm or 16-35mm on a full-frame camera at the overlook, but our 35 has been great on our hikes.
- Wear sturdy hiking shoes. The hike is slippery when wet, and the park does not recommend this trail when it’s raining.
- Bathrooms – There are bathrooms located near the parking lot.
- Exposed areas – This hike is great even if you have kids, but keep an eye on them for the exposed portions.
- On the drive, look closely at the canyon walls on the left to see the Zion-Mount-Carmel Tunnel windows.
- Bring snacks. This is a great location to sit and enjoy a great view.
- Want to check out other hikes? Here’s our 15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park post.
Best Places to Stay Near Canyon Overlook Trail Zion
- Zion Lodge (luxury) – it’s the only hotel inside the park. You must reserve rooms at least six months in advance, especially during peak season.
- Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile (mid-range) – pet-friendly hotel in Kanab. You can do overnights with adoptable animals or bring your own pets! We ended up adopting two cats after our sleepover.
Have you been to Zion National Park? What’s your favorite short hike near you?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.