8 Best Views in Zion National Park for Nature Lovers

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Who wouldn’t want to check out the best views in Zion National Park?

If there’s one word to describe Zion National Park, it’s beautiful. Rose-red mesas stretching to the sky, canyons like cracks in a giant sidewalk, waterfalls that appear seemingly out of nowhere after a heavy rain, and peaceful, ethereal hanging gardens with ferns growing directly out of sheer cliffs. 

In this article, we’re going to take you through the best views in Zion National Park, so you can leave your eyes fulfilled and your heart satisfied.

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Best Views in Zion National Park

Angel’s Landing

canyon floor covered in green and yellow trees

The most famous view in Zion is also the most death-defying. On this steep, thrilling hike, you’ll climb up a narrow sandstone fin, barely wider than a sidewalk, with thousand-foot drops on either side.

The reward is worth it, though; you’ll gaze out over a canyon so impossibly wide and deep you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into some other world. Almost directly beneath your feet, the Virgin River gushes. It’s truly magnificent—one of the best views in Zion National Park.

If this all sounds inspiring, there’s a catch. The trail is steep, narrow, and dangerous. At points, you’ll have to grab onto chains as you scramble over boulders, with sheer and definitely fatal drops on either side. It’s not for the faint of heart, the out-of-shape, or anyone with a fear of heights.

Because of its make-sure-you-have-life-insurance nature, as well as the extreme popularity of the trail, the Park Service requires anyone hiking this trail to have a permit. Permits operate on a lottery system; you can apply for either a seasonal permit or a day-before permit.

With the seasonal permit, you’ll choose from seven ranked days and times (or windows of days and times) you want to start your hike; if you’re lucky enough to win, the Park Service will assign you to one of those days.

If you don’t manage to win, however, there’s always the day-before lottery, which opens at midnight and runs until 3 pm mountain time). Not that this is for the next day; if you want to hike Angel’s Landing on April 15th, you will apply for the lottery between midnight and 3 pm on the 14th. Applying on the 15th will get you nothing but tears.

The starting point for the Angel’s Landing trail is the Grotto (Shuttle Stop 6). Your permit will list your start time as the time you need to be at the Grotto. (I know you’re on vacation, but Zion will still make you contend with appointments and public transport anyway.) Rangers will check permits.

You can’t treat this hike like a stroll in the park. You need to come prepared. Wear closed-toed shoes with ankle protection and bring water, snacks, sun protection (this trail is very exposed), and perhaps a hiking stick and/or gloves (for the chains.)

This is not a trail you want to get in trouble on; a single slip could easily cost you your life. But the view is more than worth it, and you’ll walk down that narrow ridge feeling like you have truly flown with the angels.

It’s best at any time of day except for sunrise and sunset, as this is one trail you definitely do not want to hike in the dark.

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    Scout’s Lookout

    view looking down from the top of a large rock canyon with trees scattered throughout

    So you want to hike to Angel’s Landing, but you’re scared of heights or can’t get a permit?

    Never fear, my friend. Halfway up the trail, where the sandstone fin that is Angel’s Landing proper joins the canyon wall, there’s another brilliant view—almost better than Angel’s Landing proper, as its deeper in the canyon, allowing you to see the canyon walls from halfway up.

    You’ll see the canyon unfolding around you like a maze, its coppery stone walls seeming to glow with afternoon light.

    Though this is only halfway up the Angel’s Landing trail, it’s still a considerable hike. You’ll need to ascend a series of steep, unrelenting switchbacks, but it’s comparatively less exposed than Angel’s Landing. Still, you need sun protection, good hiking shoes, and water all the same.

    The trail starts at Stop 6 (the Grotto), just like Angel’s landing.

    Observation Point

    view overlooking a large canyon with a road cutting through the bottom of the tree covered canyon floor

    For all its wonder, Angel’s landing doesn’t go to the canyon rim proper—merely a rock jutting out from it. For that, you will have to do one better and climb to Observation Point.

    Here you’ll see a sweeping, gorgeous view over the entire canyon, with the Virgin River and the main park road below you looking like a child’s toy. It’s hands-down one of the best views in Zion National Park.

    This view, too, comes at a price. The trail is steep and unrelenting. Be prepared to climb—and descend—2300 feet in 8 miles. It’s not a quick trail either; it will take around 4-6 hours. The trail starts at stop 7 (Weeping Rock).

    Checkerboard Mesa

    large rock formation with a checkerboard pattern on it

    Enough with the mammoth hikes. Here’s a little easier view. Located on the East entrance Road going down into Zion, just after coming out of the tunnel, you’ll see one of the strangest hills you ever saw—and all without leaving the comfort of your car.

    It’s easy to see how Checkerboard Mesa got its name—the cracks in the rock face, running perfectly straight and parallel, make it look like a giant checkerboard. (To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever played a game on it, though.) This is one of the Zion best views.

    Though seeing the mesa is one thing, actually getting to the top is another matter. The Checkerboard Mesa trail is a strenuous, sweaty 8 miles—and one that’s not particularly well maintained, either.

    You’ll hike up the rugged, unimproved Checkerboard Mesa canyon, scrambling over boulders and wading through mud and sand before making a difficult scramble out of the canyon. From there, you’ll climb steeply from the top of the mesa, then return the same way you came.

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    Depending on your fitness level, this is either a long day hike or a short overnighter. At-large camping (meaning that you can camp anywhere you want) is allowed in the eastern section of the park, including this trail, but it can be difficult to find a flat place to camp in the narrow canyon.

    Make sure you have everything you need, including ample water (the stream in the canyon is not reliable), food, toilet paper (don’t use it near the creek), good shoes, and sun protection. Or stick to seeing the mesa from your car.

    Kolob Arch

    view of an arch at the top of a large rock formation from the bottom of a canyon floor

    This beautifully rugged span of rock, the sixth-longest natural arch in the world, is worth every ounce of the effort it takes to get there. It’s as if a hole has been cut in the sandstone wall with a giant cookie cutter, leaving a great hole beneath.

    The trail to get there is particularly lovely as well; you walk through wild scrublands with the massive Kolob Mesas steering to the sky beside you.

    This trail is nearly 11 miles long; it’s definitely not a casual hike. What’s more, the Kolob Arch trail, in a cruel twist of fate, saves its hardest stretch for the end; you start out descending steeply, then reach a long flat stretch that will take you to the arch.

    After you’ve walked the full 11 miles and are just about ready to drop, you have to make the steep climb back to your car.

    That said, this can (and, depending on your fitness level, likely will) be done as a day hike. Most of the hike is flat and level; it’s the length, and the steep climb at the end, that make it difficult. Bring water and sunscreen.

    Lava Point

    view from an overlook looking out over rolling hills covered in trees in front of large red and orange rock canyons

    This remote overlook provides you with a rare view of Zion Canyon: from the backside.

    As you look out from the overlook, the expanse of rolling hills in front of you becomes in the far distance, a jagged array of mesas and canyons, looking for all the world like God’s very own waffle maker. It’s truly a heavenly view and one that most visitors don’t see.

    To get to this divine view, you’ll have to drive a little. Lava Point is accessible by a spur road of the Kolob Terrace Road. From Springdale, where most visitors are probably staying, you’ll need to drive about an hour and a half as you’re wrapping around the park to get to the overlook.

    There’s no hiking involved, but you’ll want to at least get out of your car.

    The Narrows

    people walking through a small blue river cutting through the bottom of a canyon

    The second-most-famous hike in Zion, this awesome route takes you through the titular narrows of Zion Canyon, where massive red sandstone walls almost completely erase the sky like skyscrapers surrounding an alleyway.

    When the sun shines overhead, the dark, somber canyon will turn brilliant red as the rays of light reach the bottom. It’s truly a sight to behold.

    This is a strenuous hike and one that will leave you drenched. You’re going to need to walk in the river bed, at times swimming as you make your way up the canyon. You’ll struggle for balance on slippery rocks. It’s not for the faint of heart. Bring a walking stick.

    Assuming you’re starting from the Temple of Sinawava, as most visitors do, there really isn’t a set end point for this hike—go as far as your heart (or legs) take you, and then turn around. You do need to make sure you save enough sunlight to exit the canyon, though, unless you like spending a cold, wet night in the slot canyon.

    Adventurous types may want to start from the top and follow the river down, which is a much more strenuous, adventurers-only approach that will probably entail intentionally spending a night in the canyon. The Park Service will periodically close the river when the water level is too high to safely wade.

    Canyon Overlook

    road winding through the bottom of a canyon at night with stars scattered in the sky

    Looking up from the bottom of the canyon, it may seem like there’s no easy way to hike to the top and see the awesome view that awaits you. And you would be wrong.

    This beautiful trail starts just before (or after, if you’re coming from Springdale) the entrance to the Zion Mt. Carmel tunnel. It’s moderate and only 1 mile long.

    At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view of the main canyon and the dramatic, narrow Pine Creek canyon beside it. There are some steep dropoffs, though nothing compared to Angel’s Landing or even Scout’s Lookout, still keep track of your kids.

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    Final Thoughts: Zion National Park Views

    And that’s our rundown of the best views in Zion National Park. Happy trails!

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