The weather is cooling off, the crowds of summer have slowly ebbed, and the leaves on the trees are beginning to change; Fall has arrived in Zion. While the park may technically be in a desert, it does experience a cool and colorful Fall season. And after a long summer of heat and sunshine, its a welcome relief. Especially for visitors looking to do some hiking during their next trip to the park.
Whether you’re an experienced outdoorsman or just looking for a gentle hike that allows you to take in the leaves changing and get a breath of fresh air, there’s a great hike in the park for you. Keep reading to learn 5 of the best to choose from for this time of year.
1. Angels Landing
If you know anything about hiking in Zion National Park, you know that two trails, Angels Landing and The Narrows, are often cited as the park’s most popular. Once the air begins to cool off, though, The Narrows becomes a bit of a challenge. That’s because you’ll spend most of the hike wading in the cold waters of the Virgin River. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to hike, but you’ll want to bring the right gear or rent waders in town to stay warm, comfortable, and safe.
While The Narrows might not be the perfect Fall hike for anyone, Angels Landing is a different story. If you’re ready and able to take on the steep, lengthy, and sometimes scary climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with the best Fall view in the entire park. Rising more than 1,500 feet from the floor of the canyon, Angels Landing offers 360-degree views of the park. This includes all of the colors of the trees and other plant life that come alive this time of year.
At 5.4-miles in length, and climbing over a thousand feet in elevation, this hike isn’t for just anyone. However, if you decide to train for this hike ahead of your visit, you certainly won’t be sorry.
2. Riverside Walk
It’s only fair to follow up Angels Landing with a trail that just about any visitor to the park can enjoy. The Riverside Walk is a gentle, flat trail that is paved from start to finish. You’ll enjoy a leisurely stroll along the winding Virgin River. Lined with trees, this trail is even more beautiful during the Fall.
Riverside Walk is 2.2-miles roundtrip, but you can always hike out and back a shorter distance. This makes it easy for anyone to take in the changing colors and crisp air, even if they aren’t able to walk the entire trail.
3. Canyon Overlook Trail
Another relatively easy trail is Canyon Overlook. Similar to Angels Landing, you’ll still enjoy sweeping views of the park. But because it starts at a higher elevation, you won’t have nearly the same climb.
The trail is just 1-mile in length. It is rated moderate, so be aware that you will do some climbing, and unlike Riverside Walk, Canyon Overlook Trail is not paved. However, if you’re short on time or don’t want to make the trek to Angels Landing, this is an easy, beautiful alternative.
4. Observation Point
Angels Landing may be one of the most popular hikes in the park, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the most difficult. Observation Point is a whopping 8-miles in length and climbs more than 2,300-feet in elevation during those miles. To hike it from start to finish, most hikers take between 4 and 6 hours. Though if you stop to take pictures and enjoy the view, it may take you even longer.
From the top of Observation Point, you’ll enjoy a view of many of the park’s most famous landmarks. This even includes Angels Landing. From this elevation, you can see out across miles of Zion Canyon, full of reds, yellows, and oranges, set against the already vibrant cliff faces and bright blue sky.
5. Taylor Creek Trail
Many new visitors to Zion never make it to Kolob Canyons, a remote section of the park that’s less developed, but just as beautiful. This section is also full of plenty of stunning Fall hikes.
Taylor Creek Trail is one of them. The trail is just over 5-miles roundtrip. It does still have a bit of climbing, but the elevation changes by just 450-feet, a fraction of what you’ll experience hiking Angels Landing or Observation Point.
Plus, Taylor Creek Trail takes you through a variety of landscapes. You’ll walk through a box canyon, pass the geologic formation called the Kanarraville Fold, see two historic homesteads, and stroll along a tree-lined creek.
Choosing the Perfect Fall Hike in Zion
While each of the hikes on this list guarantees some beautiful views this Fall, the reality is that you’ll get to experience the changing colors and clean, cool air on any hike in the park! With temperatures dropping fast, make sure you have the right gear along for your hike. Check out this guide next to learn how to pack for colder weather in Zion.