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 gives you the chance to see different landscapes rather than just a paved sidewalk the entire way. There are a couple of exposed cliffs but overall, it’s a well-maintained trail that is safe.
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Last Updated: June 14, 2021
How to Hike the Canyon Overlook Trail
Distance: 1-mile round trip
Elevation gain: 163 feet.
Parking: Located just east of the 1.1-mile-long tunnel, there is a parking lot where you can leave your car. If the lot is full, there are also a few areas to pull off a bit further down the road. Keep in mind this is off the main shuttle route.
It begins by climbing a few stairs. You then walk along a path of sandstone and packed dirt. Everything is clearly marked so it’s easy to follow.
Halfway through, you’ll come across a wooden walkway that takes you through an alcove, or cave as most people refer to it. You’ll see some fern and greenery growing here that is 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. There is a metal plaque at the viewpoint that points out the prominent landmarks and plenty of space to set and enjoy the view. We spent a total of an hour back and forth, but half of that time was spent just taking photos at the viewpoint.
Look a mountain goat! Can you see him? I can’t.
Brought the worst lens for shooting animals, but who wants to lug around a telephoto lens on a hike? We always regret not bringing our 70-200 whenever we see wildlife, but when we do bring it, we see nothing – absolutely nothing! When we don’t, everyone wants to come out and play. Story of my life. :P
- Best time to photograph: sunrise or dusk. We went in the late afternoon, and it was the worst time for photos. It’s hard to know where the sun is facing until you’re actually there though.
- Photo gear to bring: Our photos were taken with Canon 5D Mark III & 35mm / 1.4 L lens. If you want to take wildlife photos, we recommend the 70-200mm / 2.8L. I might have even preferred a wider lens like a 24mm or 16-35mm on a full-frame camera at the overlook, but our 35 has been really great and versatile for hiking so far.
- The hike is slippery when wet, so it is not recommended if it’s raining.
- There are bathrooms located near the parking lot.
- If you have kids with you, it’s a good hike for them, but make sure to keep an eye on them since there are exposed areas where you can fall.
- At the viewpoint, be sure to look closely at the canyon walls on the left to see the Zion-Mount-Carmel Tunnel windows.
- Bring a snack with you. This is a great location to sit and enjoy a great view.
- See other great hikes with our 15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park post.
Best Places to Stay in Zion
- Zion Lodge (luxury) – it’s the only hotel inside the park. You must reserve rooms at least 6 months in advance especially during peak season.
- Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile (mid-range) – in Kanab and great if you have your pets with you!
- The Advenire St George (luxury) – loved our stay here for Zion and also the nearby hikes. It has a nice luxury boutique feel and is conveniently located in historic St George with plenty of great walking distance food options after a full, active day.
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, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both 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.