Zion Canyon Overlook Trail



canyon overlook trail
Zion Canyon Overlook Trail: Hikers look over the
edge while walking through a sandstone alcove.
The Zion Canyon Overlook Trail is a very interesting trail which I recommend to anyone who is:
- interested in a panoramic view of Zion,
- not afraid of heights, and
- is in good physical condition to navigate a "moderate" level hike.

This trails starts at the east end of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. If you haven't seen the tunnel yet, you should definitely put it on your todo list. The tunnel was made by blasting a one-mile long hole in the mountain. See here for more details.




Once you come through the tunnel, look for parking immediately to your right, or parking a few yards ahead on the left side of the road. The trail is on the left (north) side of the road.

The trail begins with a series of steps heading upwards. Once you've reached the top of the stairs, turn around and and have a look at the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel: indeed, it is a hole in the side of the mountain.

canyon overlook trail
canyon overlook trail canyon overlook trail
Continue following the trail which is predominantly sandstone or hard packed soil. At one point, quaint steps are carved right out of the sandstone. The elevation gain is about 160 feet and this is not much to worry about compared to the steep cliffs and drop offs.

canyon overlook trail At another section of the trail, the path is no more than 2 feet wide. If you fell here, you would probably not fall to your death; but you will get a good scare and a couple of good scrapes.



canyon overlook trail canyon overlook trail
For the most part, the Zion Canyon Overlook trail hugs the side of the mountain and skirts around Pine Creek Canyon. Parts of the trail have a restraining rail. But most of the trail does not: you need to take care. Young children who scamper and scurry should not be taken to this trail unless you manage them with a firm hand. You should be in good health and demonstrate common sense when you are on this trail.


canyon overlook trail
Above: bridge that enters crevice.
You will soon arrive at a scary looking footbridge. Once you cross this bridge, you will enter a small cave or alcove. From the outside, you will see that you are in a natural crack or gouge in the side of the mountain.

You shouldn't think about it too much, but you are actually walking in a crevice with thousands of pounds of rock over your head. In the summer, the overhang offers shade; this, and the great view makes it all worth it.


Below: walking in the crevice.
canyon overlook trail
Below: view of crevice from afar.
canyon overlook trail


Continue along the trail to reach the Zion Canyon Outlook. The trail is not marked, but you won't get lost because there is only one way to go. The lookout offers an open view of some of Zion's landmarks. Shown in the photo below are:
1) The West Temple
2) Altar of Sacrifice
3) The Streaked Wall
4) The Sentinel

canyon overlook trail

Be very careful and do not lean over the edge. Parts of the rim have a railing whereas other sections are completely exposed.


canyon overlook trail

If you look around, you will see interesting geological formations called hoodoos: unlike the slender hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, the hoodoos here look like blobs of melted chocolate marshmallows.

Once you have had your fill of the view, you can turn around and return the same way which you came. The trail is about one mile long from the trail head to the overlook; 2 miles round trip. Give yourself one hour to complete the Zion Canyon Overlook hike.


Getting there:
From Springdale, enter Zion National Park and go 1.4 miles north. At Canyon Junction, turn right (east) and follow Zion Mountain Carmel Highway. After 3.6 miles of winding road, you will reach the west entrance of the Zion Mount Carmel Tunnel. Pass through the tunnel and look for parking immediately to the right or parking on the left that is a few yards ahead.

From Zion Lodge, take Zion Canyon Scenic Drive south bound. Turn left (east) onto Zion Mountain Carmel Highway. After 3.6 miles of winding road, you will reach the west entrance of the Zion Mount Carmel Tunnel. Pass through the tunnel and look for parking immediately to the right or parking on the left that is a few yards ahead.



zion More Zion National Park links:
   • Visitors Center
   • Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel (drive through)
   • Weeping Rock trail (easy, 15 minute)
   • Zion Riverside Walk (easy, 2-mile walk)
   • Emerald Pool trail (pretty waterfalls)
   • Zion Canyon Overlook trail (panoramic view, steep drops)
   • Angels Landing trail (incredible height, dangerous drops)
   • map of Zion Canyon area

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