Despite being located in Southern Utah’s red rock desert landscape, Zion National Park still experiences its share of changing leaves each fall. Staying in Zion rentals, close to the park’s South Entrance, is the best way to experience the park any time of year. With a resort like Watchman Villas, you can easily get to and from the park each day using the Springdale Shuttle loop. Beat the crowds — especially on busy fall weekends — and get to the trails early in the day. Or, head to the park after the mid-afternoon crowds die down.
Ready to start planning your own fall adventure at the best resorts near Zion National Park? Keep reading to learn the top trails for experiencing fall colors in Zion National Park.
Canyon Overlook Trail
Hiking with kids? Or maybe someone in your group isn’t up to a challenging or long hike? You should put Canyon Overlook Trail at the top of your must-see list for your visit, no matter the time of year. This short, easy trail offers some of the best views in all of Zion National Park.
Similar to Angels Landing, but without the long, difficult, and sometimes-dangerous climb, you and your family will enjoy fantastic views of Zion Canyon stretching out far below you from the trail’s peak. During the fall, after the colors of the leaves have begun to change, this is perhaps the best place in the park to take them in!
The trail is a 1-mile round trip and relatively flat. This makes it a great choice for any visitor. It’s located in the Upper Canyon section of the park. This means that you’ll drive up the canyon rather than hiking a steep incline. It also means that you’ll get to travel through the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel — another must-see for your trip!
Another accessible trail perfect for both experienced hikers and families with small children is the Riverside Walk. This trail is longer than Canyon Overlook Trail, at around 2.2-miles roundtrip. But it’s also relatively flat and paved. Riverside Walk also offers a pretty shady hike compared to many of the other trails in the park. It’s perfect for hot sunny days, which aren’t uncommon well into the fall season.
Riverside Walk’s tree-lined path makes it a great spot to experience the fall colors. This trail meanders along the Virgin River, into the narrowest part of Zion’s Canyon. At the end of the trail, where you’ll turn around to head back to the start, you’ll find the beginning — or ending, depending on which way you hike — of the famous The Narrows trail.
You can walk down a few steps to the banks of the river, and even hike a short distance upriver to get a taste of this challenging trail, which stretches more than 16 miles one way.
It’s no surprise that Zion National Park’s most famous, and one of its most popular, trails are also one of the best for experiencing the fall colors. Angels Landing is a challenging hike that’s over 5 miles roundtrip, with more than 1,500 feet of elevation change. The trail is perhaps best known for the section that crosses a narrow ridgeline with drops of over a thousand feet on either side, with only a chain handrail between hikers and the edge.
Angels Landing isn’t for beginner hikers or anyone with a fear of heights. But if you’re up to the challenge and have time to prepare ahead of your trip, this iconic hike can be a great spot to take in Zion’s stunning fall colors. Fall is also a great time to hike this trail as temperatures begin to cool and the summer crowds slowly begin to fade.
It’s important to note that permits are now required to hike Angels Landing. You can obtain a permit by entering one or both of the two lottery systems. One lottery is available each season and awards permits for the following season. This means that you’ll need to plan far ahead to get a permit in this lottery. But there is also a second lottery that opens each day and awards any available permits for hiking the trail the next day. Both lotteries have a fee associated with entering them, and with obtaining a permit if your name is chosen. The lottery has helped reduce crowding on this popular trail. But staying in Zion rentals near the park’s entrance is still a good way to get an early start on this long hike!
Choosing the Best Zion Rentals for Your Fall Adventure
Before you can hike to the peak of Angels Landing or enjoy a stroll with your family along the Riverside Walk, you’ll need to choose from the best Zion rentals.
Watchman Villa’s prime location in the heart of Springdale means that you’ll enjoy quick and easy access to the park, no matter the time of year you visit. When shuttle buses are in operation, which is for much of the year, you can roll out of bed, walk out of your vacation rental, and walk to a shuttle stop for the Springdale Shuttle loop. This means having the option to leave your car parked at your rental, and avoid the traffic and parking hassles that Springdale is known for during the busy season.
Ready to see for yourself what makes Watchman Villas one of the best resorts near Zion National Park? Book your fall stay today!