Several other trails come off the East Rim trail. The first goes to Hidden Canyon, a narrow slot canyon whose entrance is 'hidden' from view below. The canyon is directly to the eas of the Great White Throne and involves steps cut into the rock and chain cables to help with loose sections of the way. Halfway up the East Rim trail, Echo Canyon trail branches off, continuing up the canyon - where the East Rim trail begins to climb out of the canyon. The Echo Canyon trail leads to several other eastern trails - Cable Mountain, Deertrap Mountain and the East Entrance trail. Climbing out of Echo Canyon offers grand views out towards Angels Landing, far down below to the west.
The hike of the Narrows is Zion's most popular backcountry outing. Covering 16 miles one-way - and you normally only go one-way down - the way requires hiking permits from the Visitor Center even for dayhikes. You first have to find your way to Chamberlain's Ranch - at the end of an 18 mile dirt road off UT 9 east of the East Entrance. To hike the Narrows you have to be well-prepared - much of your hike will be in the water - up to chest deep. Flash floods are a major hazard so be well attuned to weather conditions. All-in-all, this is what Crete's Samaria Gorge hopes to be, only here you won't have to share the experience with thousands of others off the bus! http://www.nps.gov/zion/ZionNarrows.htm
If you don't have time or desire to do the Narrows, you can get a taste by hiking the Gateway to the Narrows trail. This is an easy flat 1.6 mile trail going along the riverside from the Zion Canyon road end at the Temple of Sinawava. Springs abound along the route as you meander to where the canyon walls come ever-closer together.
3.6 miles and 2150 feet of elevation gain gets you atop Observation Point - 6507 feet - for a jaw-dropping view over Zion Canyon. The trail begins from Weeping Rock, so named for the cliffside spings which drip over an overhang you walk by. Pushing on through the beautiful narrow Echo Canyon, you scenically work your way out of the canyon until you reach a plateau for the final 1/2 mile to the viewpoint. Guidebooks mention 7 hours for the hike though that seems rather generous. You should think about doing this hike in the early morning hours though as it get rather warm up there. From the top you can pick out many of the features of Zion Canyon. The Great White Throne is straight across from you; Angel's Landing is but a bump far below.
There is little solitude on this or any other trail in Zion Canyon. Regardless, this is one of those trails you must do. The view over the canyon from atop is grandeurous with a capital 'G'! The trail is actually cement most of the way up - maybe to avoid erosion and/or because of the innumerable pairs of feet that tread this trail. It is like the trail up Yosemite Falls, the Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise, or the long winding way to the top of Mt Whitney in California - one of those trails that will sear in your memory the glories that await you in the Wild; even if you have to share the experience:-]
From the Grotto Picnic area along the Zion Canyon road - just north of Zion Lodge - the West Rim trail takes off. In just under 2 miles you ascend 1000 feet to Scout Lookout. Here is where the rougher trail to Angel's Landing takes off - another mile out and 500 feet up, grabbing cables anchored intothe ground as you go. This part of the trail is not for the acrophobic as you are 1500 feet straight up from the North Fork of the Virgin River, you are center stage in Zion's glory! This is not a trail to try if the weather is wet or icy. The visual rewards are great, but not that great.
The climb to Scout Lookout passes through 21 short switchbacks - Walter's Wiggles. Your sweat is compensated for by grand views up and down the Zion Canyon. Scout Lookout - at the top of the Wiggles, is as sheer as the Landing, offering a great view of the way ahead up the ridgeback of the monolith. Footing can be hazardous when condition are wet. Chains help with the footing for the final ascent.
One of the World's grandest rock monoliths, the Great White Throne towers over 2500 feet above the North Fork of the Virgin. Mammoth, gigantic, elephantine are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind. Pictures are best taken in the late afternoon with classic shots taken from the valley floor just past Weeping Rock.
Departing from the Zion Lodge, cross the street and head over the bridge to the start of this easy .6 mile hike to the Lower Emerald Pool.
Apparantly there is always a waterfall here falling into the pool, however I doubt that it normally has the volume that we witnessed on our visit. The trail is paved to the first pool and from there you can walk behind the waterfall, it may be quite muddy, for this view of the waterfall from the other side.
From this point you can continue another mile up 150 feet to the Middle and Upper Emerald Pools. Due to the muddy and slippery conditions, we stopped at the Lower Emerald Pools.
May to October 70F- 105F during the day, 45F - 75F at night. Thunderstorms are common in July and August. Winters are mild, temp. often reaching above 40F, little snow in the canyon, but accumulates on the plateaus.
Spring and Fall temps range from 45F at night to 80F during the day.
The Lower Pools are easily accesible...not quite a mile (1.2 mi. round trip). You are rewarded with stunning waterfalls (can dry up in the summer). Another mile or so up is the Upper Pool which is larger and also has wateralls. There are long dropoffs and the trail is much steeper and rockier.
This is an easy hike that follows the Virgin River upstream to the Zion Canyon Narrows, where the paved trail ends. If you are the adventurous type, you can continue through the narrows. This involves walking through the river and climbing over the rocks. Check warning levels before venturing into the narrows.....it becomes flooded very quicky when it rains!!
The Narrows is a spectacular hike up the Virgin River into a slot canyon. To hike the entire length of the Narrows requires a special permit. We just wanted to hike as far as we could into the canyon and then turn around. We had planned on doing this hike in the morning, but it was only in the low 70s, and I knew the water would be cold. So, we waited until 2 pm. There were quite a few people doing this hike at that time, but for some reason, I found that reassuring. Please don't attempt to do this hike without checking with a park ranger first about conditions. We were told it was "dry" the day we did it, and the water still came up to my waist at some points. Flooding is a serious concern in the Narrows, so please be safe. Also, there were some crazy people doing the hike in flip flops or even barefooted. I can't imagine what that felt like on their feet. I wore my 5-10 canyoneers and my feet still felt some of those sharp rocks. A walking stick was very helpful; I didn't bring one, but luckily people leave them lined up at the beginning of the trail. It helped me stay upright (most of the time).
When you enter, you are on the canyon floor. There are no words to describe the rugged beauty of this place. Hiking is the best way to see it, and there are trails for every level hiker. Heed flash flood warnings (check forecast for rain). It rains fast and hard and many trails are extremely dangerous under such circumstances. When RV-ing, check to see if your vehicle will fit through the tunnels. Bicycles are not allowed to be ridden through tunnels (there is an escort service). Camping is first come first served. I believe there are only three campgrounds and only one is open year round.
I suggest visiting in late fall or early spring. It gets crowded in the summer!
There is a variety of wildlife within the park. A couple of young bighorn sheep came right down to the road by the Canyon Overlook Trailhead. I also got the chance to photograph a butterfly, a turkey and a squirrel. I kinda like the butterfly photo.
This is an excellent, but strenuous 4 mile return hike to a spectacular viewpoint at Scout Lookout.
From here you can continue another half mile up a very steep incline using chains along a narrow ridge to Angel's Landing. It is not recommended for anyone with a fear of heights.
You will gain 1488 feet in elevation along this hike and will ascend the steep switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles. There are excellent views along the way. See my travelogue for more photos.
This is the classic view of Zion National Park. It was taken at the bridge on Hwy 9 that crosses over the Virgin River. This is the view looking to the south.
The Virgin River is responsible for the sculpting of Zion Canyon and although it usually looks quite tame, it can become a dangerous torrent under severe weather conditions.