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This is a transcription of a small pamphlet published by the Zion Natural History society some time before 1970 (probably long before—look at the haircuts on the front cover). Images are scanned from my old, yellowed newsprint copy, and the formatting has been changed to fit into HTML. The pamphlet is mainly of historical interest; some of the trails have had their names or routes changed, and at least one of them has been closed. Roads have also been constructed or closed since this pamphlet was printed. Private vehicles are prohibited from the Scenic Drive (with a few exceptions), having been replaced with a very efficient shuttle bus service. For more up-to-date information, visit the National Park Service web page on Zion.

Front Cover

Front Cover


Center Map

A Guide to the Trails

Zion National Park

Outdoor Good Manners

Good manners outdoors are like good manners at home, and the rules are simple. Here are a few that may help you enjoy your stay and also help to preserve this great wilderness Park.

  • Stay on the Trails—shortcutting and exploring the cliffs and high ledges can be dangerous.

  • Fire Destroys—stop if you must smoke. Fires are permitted only in campgrounds unless you have obtained a fire permit, free upon request at the Visitor Center.

  • Seen a Litterbug Lately?—don't be one. Your cans, paper, and trash should be deposited in a trash can. If you carry cans and paper into the backcountry, you can carry it out.

  • Don't be a Trailhog—walk, don't run. Let the faster hiker by.

  • Dogs—don't belong on the trails. Leave your dog in the car or at home.

Zion's animals, plants, and the natural attractions are here for your enjoyment. Leave them for the next person to enjoy, too.

"Let no one say, and say it to your shame, that all was beauty here until you came."

Hiking Hints

  • Know your route before you begin your hike. If your hike takes you away from the main trails you should carry a topographic map and know how to use it.

  • Inform someone of your whereabouts. The National Park Service should be informed of your route, your destination, and your planned time of return if you leave the main trail.

  • Be prepared by carrying necessary provisions with you. Carry a canteen of water and food enough to last you until your return.

Temple Of Sinawava

Temple of Sinawava

A Guide to the Trails of Zion National Park

By Roland H. Wauer, Park Naturalist

Illustrated by Jeanne Smith


Welcome to Zion! The National Park Service staff hopes that you enjoy your stay and that this trail guide booklet will help to make your visit more meaningful. You can find a map in the center of this booklet with a list of all of the trails which you may wish to travel. Each trail is further summarized on the pages indicated in the upper right of the map. Additional aid may be acquired from any of the uniformed men or women of the National Park Service. Please feel free to ask for advice and suggestions. They are here to help you!

Things to do—Whether you plan on a visit of several days or one of only a few hours, you can certainly enjoy Zion. If you must hurry on and can stay only a few hours, there are two things you should do. First, stop at the Visitor Center and see the museum and illustrated orientation program; second, take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. This is the 12 mile round-trip drive into the heart of the Park. You enter the scenic drive off the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (Highway 15) and drive 6 miles up Zion Canyon to the Temple of Sinawava. From the roadway you can view most of the scenic attractions along Zion Canyon—the Great White Throne, the Three Patriarchs, Red Arch Mountain, Angel's Landing, and the Temple of Sinawava. If time allows and you wish to take a short walk, consider either the Weeping Rock or Canyon Overlook Nature Trails. Consult the map for their location and for additional details.

For those of you who plan to stay more than a few hours, it is still wise to begin your orientation of the Park at the Visitor Center. An excellent relief model of the canyon section of the Park is available to help you visualize your location and to aid you in planning your activities. Ask the naturalist on duty to point out the hiking trails. Naturalist-guided walks are available several times each day during the summer season, June 1 through September 15. The Narrows Trail is guided 3 times daily at 9:30 and 10:00 a.m., and at 3:00 p.m. Meet the naturalist at the Temple of Sinawava. The Emerald Pools Trail is guided each afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Meet the naturalist at the parking area next to the swimming pool at Zion Lodge.

Evening Programs are presented nightly throughout the summer. Illustrated programs are given at the South Campground Amphitheatre at dusk and at Zion Lodge at 8:15 p.m. A campfire program is presented at Grotto Campground nightly at 8:00 p.m. Check the program schedules for topics which vary each evening.

Horseback Trips are available during the summer; inquire at the reservation desk at Zion Lodge. Full day, half-day, and shorter trips are scheduled daily.

Campfire Talk

Short Walks

One of the quickest and best ways to learn more about Zion National Park is to take the self-guiding or conducted nature walks. Both the Weeping Rock and Canyon Overlook Trails are self-guiding, and the Narrows Walk is naturalist-guided 3 times daily during the summer. Each one is easy and offers a wide variety of scenic attractions. Take your time and see your surroundings.



1. Weeping Rock Trail is 0.3 mile long, and the average round-trip time is about 45 minutes. Beginning at the Weeping Rock parking area, the trail climbs gradually to the Weeping Rock. If you wish to take the trail as a self-guiding nature walk, leaflets may be obtained at the start of the trail; numbers along the trail correspond to the numbers in the leaflet. In the back of the leaflet are 4 pages of flower illustrations.

The large variety of flowers which bloom along the Weeping Rock Nature Trail is spectacular. Look for the shooting-star and columbine during the spring months, and for wild rose and monkey flower in early summer. Late summer is time for the cardinal flower and purple aster. The abundant vegetation here is due to the available water; Weeping Rock is made up of layers of shale which are water resistant. The downward percolation of water from the highlands is interrupted at this point and runs down the face of the rocks so that it "weeps". Similar occurrences are not uncommon along other trails in Zion.


View from Canyon Overlook


2. Canyon Overlook Trail is ½ mile long, and the average round-trip time is about 1¼ hours. The trail begins across the highway from the parking area at the east end of the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. Starting quite steeply, it becomes gradual after the first 200 feet and follows the rock ledges above Clear Creek and Pine Creek Canyon to a point directly above the Great Arch of Zion. From this viewpoint you see a wonderful panorama of Pine Creek Canyon and lower Zion Canyon. The West Temple, the Towers of the Virgin, and the Streaked Wall make a breathtaking backdrop for the canyons of Zion. Early morning is best for this walk as the summer afternoons are quite warm.

This is another of the self-guiding nature walks and a leaflet may be obtained at the start of the trail. The environment along the Canyon Overlook Trail is entirely different from that of the floor of Zion Canyon and Weeping Rock. Plant and animal life here is that of the pinyon-juniper woodlands. The pinyon pine, junipers, yuccas, and cacti are the dominant plants. You may find tracks of ringtail, gray fox, wood rat, and mice in the dust along the trail. If you listen you may hear the cañon wren's descending call or the song of the black-throated gray warbler. Lizards are common during the summer and include the sagebrush lizard and the western and plateau whiptails.

The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and tunnel offers the only approach to Zion from the east. The mile-long tunnel was built in the 1920s and dedicated on July 4, 1930. The 6 switchbacks allow a drop of 800 feet from the tunnel to Zion Canyon in less than 4 miles. Notice the excellent examples of cross-bedded sandstone along the highway and trail. Clear Creek cuts through the soft sandstone forming intricate waterways that you can see from the first half of the Canyon Overlook Trail. Perhaps Zion Canyon began in such a manner more than 13 million years ago.

3. Narrows Trail is 1.2 miles long, and the average round-trip time is about 1½ hours. Starting from the Temple of Sinawava at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, the trail follows the Virgin River up the narrow canyon to a point where there is no longer room for both river and trail. This is a naturalist-guided walk during the summer season, but you may take it on your own if you wish. One of the easiest and most popular trails in Zion, it is entirely paved and climbs less than 100 feet from start to finish. The Canyon is shady in the early morning and late afternoon, but mid-morning is best for photographs.

The geologic forces that created Zion Canyon are quite evident here. The water, wind, ice, and even the plants and animals play a part in the shaping of this canyon. The Virgin River is the main force that cut this narrow gorge into the Markagunt Plateau; the rim of the plateau is about 2,200 feet above you. According to geologists, the river has never been much larger than it is today. However, during spring run-offs and after a sudden summer storm, it may become a raging torrent in a very short time. Notice the debris deposited at each turn of the river—logs, rocks, and other materials from drainages many miles distant.


Zion Stadium

The high cliffs and abundant springs and seeps offer a cool, moist environment where a large variety of plants and animals occur. Zion's "hanging gardens" are beautiful during the spring and summer months. At times the entire cliff may be covered with columbine, shooting-star, and cardinal flower, and maiden-hair fern grows in the cooler niches. In the wider parts of the canyon are cottonwood, boxelder, and desert ash. A white fir occurs at the end of the trail and ponderosa pine can be seen growing along the upper ledges and at the rim of the plateau.


Grey Fox




Because of the variety of habitats along the Narrows Trail, a large number of animals use this area. Watch for mule deer along the trail, and you may find tracks of skunks, bobcat, gray fox, and ringtail in the moist sand or dust. Even mountain lion tracks are sometimes found during the winter and early spring. Spring and summer are the best seasons for birds here, and you may see the white-throated swift and violet-green swallow soaring along the canyon walls; the hairy woodpecker, solitary and warbling vireos, black-headed grosbeak, lazuli bunting, and song sparrow may be found among the foliage; if you are lucky you may even see the dipper hunting for food in the swift current of the river.

The common reptile of the Narrows Trail is the eastern fence lizard, sometimes called the "blue-bellied lizard". You may also see a whiptail, or the striped whipsnake, gopher snake, or the rare and beautiful regal ringneck snake.



Easy Hikes

The Easy Hikes are short hikes that are not more than 4 miles round-trip and take less than half a day. You should carry a canteen of water during the summer months, and wear footwear suitable for hiking.


Emerald Pools Canyon


4. Emerald Pools Trail starts from two locations and may be taken as a loop trail or as a two-way trail. See the map below for further information on trail beginnings and mileages. The average round-trip time to the upper Emerald Pool from Zion Lodge is about 3½ hours.


The lower Emerald Pools Trail is naturalist-guided each afternoon during the summer season. Starting across the roadway from the parking area next to the Zion Lodge swimming pool, the trail crosses the Virgin River by a foot bridge. The trail to the right is a gradual climb into Emerald Pools Canyon and is shaded during most of the day. The entire canyon is shaded during the later afternoon, but mid-morning is best for photographs.

Emerald Pools Canyon was once called Heap's Canyon after William Heap, a Mormon pioneer who settled at the mouth of the canyon about 1870. He built a log cabin on the west bank of the river and raised corn, cane, and garden crops. Water was available from the creek which still flows down the canyon all year long. Two crystal clear pools exist along the stream course; the lower pool is located at the base of the first ledge and the upper pool is situated at the base of the cliffs at the upper end of the canyon.


Englemann Pricklypear Cactus


Sacred Datura


Fineleaf Yucca


The trails that approach Emerald Pools Canyon pass through an area where juniper, cottonwood, boxelder, and Gambel's oak are common. On the slopes above the trails, where it is open and sunny, you may find typical desert-type plants such as yuccas and cacti. The open slope on the eastern side of Emerald Pools Canyon is fairly dry and is exposed to the warm summer sun, resulting in a scrub oak habitat. On the other hand, the shaded western slope is cool and moist; a small forest of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir is the result. The maples and oaks that occur along the canyon trails offer beautiful displays of color during early October.



5. Hidden Canyon Trail is 1 mile long, and the average round-trip time is about 2 hours.  The constructed trail ends at the canyon mouth but you may walk further up Hidden Canyon and this will take longer. Starting from the Weeping Rock parking area, take the East Rim Trail for .6 mile to the Hidden Canyon junction. The trail is quite steep but the canyon is gradual and cool even during mid-summer. Sunlight reaches the canyon floor during the afternoon so this is the best time for photographs; the approach trail is shaded during the later afternoon.

Hidden Canyon represents Zion's own little "Shangri-la", an almost inaccessible canyon of quietness and solitude. The entrance is somewhat blocked from view by a small stand of ponderosa pines and douglas firs. The canyon is a long narrow gorge, about a mile in length and seldom over 65 feet wide, between steep sandstone walls. Water and wind carved the canyon along a probable crack in the sandstone, and during the centuries it has developed into one of the many tiny canyons and nooks in Zion's canyonlands. While most are inaccessible, Hidden Canyon offers a wonderful example of the wilderness not far from the canyon of Zion.

Walking up the canyon, watch for the small natural bridge which is on the right bank about ½ mile from the canyon entrance. This and the many grottos along the canyon walls display interesting water and wind-formed features so characteristic of southern Utah. Few animals are seen in the canyons, but deer, gray fox, and skunk tracks may be found in the sandy bottom. The cañon wren is almost always calling from the rocky cliffs, and the scrub jay, mountain chickadee, and white-throated swift are also occasional visitors to the canyon.

6. Sand Bench Trail is 1.7 mile long, and the average round-trip time is about 3 hours. You may park your automobile in the parking area just beyond the Utah Parks Company's buildings in the Court of the Patriarchs. The trail starts from the footbridge that crosses the river at the mouth of Birch Creek; the Park concessioner's saddle horse trips also use this scenic trail.

The Sand Bench Trail follows Birch Creek for a short distance before it turns left, crosses Birch Creek, and climbs to the bench above. The Sand Bench is warm during mid-summer, so early morning is best for hiking although the later afternoon offers some shade. Mid-morning is best for photographs and an excellent view of the Three Patriarchs can be had from atop the bench. Only two of the Patriarchs can be seen from the end of the trail, however, but the down-canyon view is spectacular.


View from end of Sand Bench Trail


Birch Creek is a perennial flow of water from several large springs at the base of the cliffs. The National Park Service obtains its culinary supply from these springs and so camping is not allowed in the Court of the Patriarchs. The creek supplies sufficient water to form interesting habitats where many plants and animals live. Tules and rushes grow in the creek and cottonwood, boxelder, willow, and rabbitbrush grow on the banks. The sucker, toads, canyon tree frog, and leopard frog live in the creek, and many kinds of birds and mammals use the immediate surroundings.

Because of the reflected heat from the nearby cliffs, the Sand Bench is hot and dry. Pinyon pine, juniper, scrub oak, yuccas, and cacti are dominant, and a large number of reptiles live hear. Watch for the leopard and collared lizards, the whiptails, coachwhip, patch-nosed snake, and gopher snake. The mule deer is sometimes seen as are skunks, wood rat, and badger.


Collared Lizard



The Watchman

7. Watchman Trail is 1.2 miles long, and the average round-trip time is about 2 hours. The start of the trail is not easy to find as you must drive toward the back of the Visiter center, cross under the highway, and follow the road across the Virgin River to the Park Service residential area. Drive very carefully as children sometimes play in the roadway. The Watchman Trail starts at the southwest corner of the residential loop and climbs up the canyon to an excellent lookout directly across from the South Campground and entrance station. An additional loop trail extends off the main trail and is about a mile in length.

The town of Springdale lies down canyon a short distance. Settled by the Mormons in 1862, the principal occupation was farming; today, the thousands of visitors to Zion National Park are its main concern. To the right is the Visitor Center and Oak Creek Canyon which lies below the West Temple and Towers of the Virgin.

Mid-morning is best for photographs but sunsets are sometimes quite beautiful from the lookout area on the trail. Although the first half of the trail is fairly steep, the second half is a gradual climb through the pinyon pine forest. Here is one of the best areas in Zion Park to see the many birds that nest among the Pinyon-juniper woodlands during the spring and summer. A few of the birds you may see include the mourning dove, black-chinned hummingbird, ash-throated flycatcher, plain titmouse, common bushtit, Bewick's and cañon wrens, blue-gray gnatcatcher, gray vireo, Virginia's and black-throated gray warblers, black-headed grosbeak, and rufous-sided towhee.

8. Scout's Lookout and Angel's Landing Trail is 2.4 miles long, and the average round-trip time is about 4½ hours.


Walter's Wiggles

Scout's lookout is the trail junction; from this point you may turn right and continue for ½ mile to the end of Angel's Landing, or turn left to continue on the West Rim Trail. Early morning and late afternoon are best for hiking because the trail is not shaded during mid-day. Either time is good for photographs down canyon, but afternoon is best for photographing up Zion Canyon.

Starting from the parking area across the roadway from the Grotto Campground, the trail follows the Virgin River to a point where it begins a rapid ascent along the slope to Refrigerator Canyon. Temperatures drop considerably here, for this is another of the cool protected canyons much like Hidden Canyon. The trail continues through Refrigerator Canyon and climbs steeply up 21 switchbacks known locally as "Walter's Wiggles", to Scout's Lookout. Here is a sandy flat where a few ponderosa pines and manzanita bushes are dominant. A drinking fountain is situated here but may be dry during dry summers. The water is piped from a small spring another mile up the West Rim Trail.

The Angel's Landing Trail runs along the steep-sided sandstone ridge to a point in about the center of Zion Canyon. The trail is well marked and several chains have been attached to the cliff for your safety. The trail is such that youngsters should not attempt it alone. One of Zion's most beautiful and exciting vantage points exists at the end. You will find yourself 1,488 feet above the meandering Virgin River, a delicate ribbon-like stream that cut Zion Canyon into the fragile formations that are so evident from Angel's Landing.


Longer Hikes


The Longer Hikes are those that take at least ½ day and are more than 4 miles round-trip. Since most of these trails are long and difficult, novices should not take the entire hike on their own, but only with an experienced hiker. Springs are few and far between so a canteen of water, proper footwear, and a lunch will help to make your hike more enjoyable.

9. West Rim Trail is 12.3 miles long, and you may wish to take the entire trip during a single day or as an extended back-packing trip of 2 or more days. This is probably Zion's best backcountry trail and it may be divided into 3 sections: from the parking area near the Grotto Campground to Scout's Lookout (discussed in No. 8), to the West Rim shelter cabin, and on to Potato Hollow. See the center map for more information.

It is quite a chore to take the entire trip in a single day and it should not be attempted by beginners. Horseback trips are available from the Utah Parks Company. Those of you who enjoy back-packing may wish to use the shelter cabin atop the west rim; the cabin door is never locked. You will then have the opportunity to see the high country at your leisure. A good spring exists near the cabin, but you should carry a canteen of water with you. Another plan you may prefer is to drive to Lava Point, via the Kolob Reservior Road from Virgin, Utah, and hike down to Zion Canyon; the jeep road from Lava Point to Potato Hollow is about 6 miles and the entire trip from Lava Point to Zion Canyon amounts to a little over 18 miles. You should have a vehicle available upon your arrival at the Grotto parking area.


Great West Canyon from West Rim Trail


View from Kolob Reservior Road


Once you reach the canyon a mile beyond Scout's Lookout, you will find yourself in the true backcountry of Zion National Park. Away from the busy canyon and automobile traffic, it is another world. The West Rim backcountry consists of deep and beautiful canyons and high forested plateaus, rich in scenery and wildlife. Take plenty of color film with you for you will want to remember the many canyons and other attractions. The Great West Canyon, about the size of Zion Canyon, is one of the most inspiring sights you may ever see.

Potato Hollow is a small green valley located high in Zion's Kolob. The tall grasses, fir, pine, and quaking aspen offer a place of peace and solitude. In all but mid-winter it is alive with many kinds of animals. The mule deer, gray fox, coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion roam this green land. Potato Hollow also offers an excellent habitat for a wide variety of birds. Watch for the blue grouse, violet-green swallow, white-breasted, red-breasted, and pigmy nuthatches, robin, western bluebird, Audobon's warbler, gray-headed junco, and chipping sparrow.

The high plateaus of Zion are certainly the land of the sky. The West Rim Trail winds its way through this Kolob country and offers the eager hiker the gifts that only he who seeks such pleasures can appreciate.




View from East Rim Trail


10. East Rim Trail is 3.6 miles long, and the average round-trip time is about 6 hours. Starting from the Weeping Rock parking area, the trail climbs steadily up the slope to Echo Canyon, on to the East Rim of the Plateau, and to Observation Point. Portions of the trail are paved; this is one of Zion's most popular longer hikes. Mid-morning is best for photographs of the canyon, so a hike beginning in the cool morning hours and a return during the late afternoon is suggested.

This hike offers a wide range of scenes from the narrow canyons and steep cliffs to the panorama of Zion Canyon at the trail's end. The main portion of the trail was cut into the Navajo sandstone, but reaching the rim, it skirts the Carmel limestone enroute to Observation Point. The original trail-route was used by prehistoric man, and the first constructed trail was completed by John Winder in 1896, and used by man and cattle. David Flanigan utilized this route and built a cableworks to lower lumber into Zion Canyon from Cable Mountain in 1900. More than 200,000 board feet of lumber had been lowered by 1906. Portions of the wood frame still exist atop Cable Mountain, directly above the Weeping Rock parking area. You can see part of the old headworks from the lower end of the East Rim Trail.

11. Lady Mountain Trail is only 2 miles long, but the average round-trip time is about 5 hours. This is Zion's steepest and most difficult trail and should be taken by experienced hikers only. Starting from the upper ledge of the Emerald Pool Trail (see themap in the center), it climbs 2,679 feet in 2 miles, ending at the summit of Lady Mountain—6940 feet elevation. Hiking is best during the early morning and late afternoon hours as the trail is only partially in the shade most of the day.


View from Lady Mountain

You must follow the red and yellow markings on the cliff, and with the help of chains, ladder, stairs, and a good deal of scrambling the top may be reached. Take water with you as there are no springs along the Lady Mountain Trail.

The view from the summit is well worth the strenuous climb. You find yourself on top of the world with Zion Canyon and Zion Lodge far below you; it looks as if you could almost dive right into the swimming pool across the river and roadway. From west to north you have a fine view of the top of the West Temple, the backs of the Three Patriarchs, Castle Dome, Cathedral Mountain, and Mount Majestic. To the east is the Great White Throne, Red Arch Mountain, Deertrap Mountain, and the East Temple. An excellent perspective of the Markagunt Plateau country may be had from this lofty perch.

It is also a good place to view the various geologic formations of Zion Canyon. All of the formations you see are of the Mesozoic era. The oldest formation visible is that at the base of the cliffs just above the canyon road far below. This is the Kayenta formation which is generally maroon in color and is situated just below the steep cliffs which are the Navajo formation. You can easily trace this line of contact all along the canyon. From Lady Mountain, about 90% of the visible formations is Navajo. High on the east plateau, however, is a light colored cap of Carmel. This is the limestone formation that you drive through on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway just east of the East Entrance. Further down canyon, beyond the Court of the Patriarchs, are 2 more geologic formations: Moenave and Chinle. Both lie below the Kayenta and are older.

Other Trips

The Other Trips are those which are more than a hike; they are either a long hike not on constructed trails or a hike from the end of a jeep road. Because of the nature of these trips, the National Park Service asks that you register at the Visitor Center before you undertake any of the following trips. You will then be able to obtain the latest information on the area in which you plan to travel. A topographic map of the Park should always be part of your equipment.


12. Cable and Deertrap Mountains are reached via the County Road that branches off of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway just above the East Entrance, and a jeep road off the County Road. See the map below for further directions and for mileages. You should plan to spend at least a full day in this area; both Cable and Deertrap Mountains offer excellent views and are well worth your time and exertion. If you wish, you may camp at either the Cable Mountain–Deertrap junction or at the end of the Deertrap Road. There is no water available so you must bring it with you. A fire permit may be obtained at the Visitor Center.




View from Deertrap Mountain

You will find a beautiful ponderosa pine forest along Zion's east rim. This high forested area offers a refreshing change from the warmer canyons of the Park. Similar to the area along the West Rim Trail, it is less difficult to reach although it is somewhat smaller in total area. The Deertrap Mountain viewpoint is probably the best and most inspiring view of Zion Canyon found anywhere in the Park. You will find yourself directly across the canyon from the Court of the Patriarchs and Lady Mountain.

Cable Mountain is situated directly above the Weeping Rock parking area; here is another good view of Zion Canyon, more than 2,000 feet below. The historic cableworks, which gave Cable Mountain its name, is located at the end of the trail. Although only a portion of the cableworks remain today, the wood frame still exists atop the cliff. David Flanigan originated the works in 1900 and by 1904 he had purchased a small lumber mill nearby and was lowering cut lumber into Zion Canyon. Zion Lodge and many Springdale residences were constructed from lumber cut on the plateau and lowered by cable.




Finger Canyons from Taylor Creek

13. Kolob Trail may be reached from one of several directions; Taylor Creek from the west, off the Zion Park Interchange on Highway 91, (Interstate 15); Hop Valley from the south, off the Kolob Reservior Road above Cave Valley; and Birch Spring from the east, off the Kolob Reservior Road above the reservoir. See the map in the center for further directions.

Due to road construction in the Taylor Creek area, this part of the trail is difficult to follow, but Lee Pass may be reached by following the Taylor Creek drainage to the head of Timber Creek. If you approach the trail from this direction you may follow the Timber Creek drainage to the junction with LaVerkin Creek, turn left and follow LaVerkin Creek to the Hop Valley junction, and out to the Kolob Reservoir Road via Hop Valley or east through the LaVerkin-Willis Creek drainage. You may start from either direction; a topographic map should be part of your equipment. It is best to plan on a trip of 2 days or more, allowing time for photographs and side trips. An excellent back-packing and horseback route, good campsites exist along LaVerkin Creek. An excellent spring is located at the Hop Valley-LaVerkin Creek junction.

One of the highlights of the Kolob Trail is the side trip to the Kolob Arch, 1 mile off the main canyon. The Arch is easy to find if you use your topographic map, although there is no trail directly to the structure. The Kolob Arch, 390 feet high from bottom to top and 120 feet thick, is even higher than the famed Rainbow Bridge by 39 feet. Other excellent side trips include a hike into Beartrap Canyon, off LaVerkin Creek, and up the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek to a beautiful double arch.


This is a wonderful trip if you wish to really see the wilderness country of Zion. The rugged backcountry found in the LaVerkin-Timber Creek drainages offers Zion at its best.

14. The Narrows is undoubtedly one of the best known, most impressive and unique of Zion's Backcountry trips.


The Narrows

Starting from the headwaters of the Virgin River, you may take one of several routes, each ending at the Temple of Sinawava in Zion Canyon. Most popular is a single day trip starting from Chamberlain's Ranch, reached via the County Road 17 miles north of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, and following the North Fork through the narrow gorge carved by the river for about 12 miles. Most of the route is negotiated only by wading and so suitable clothing and gear are needed. Good wading shoes, a waterproof camera bag, and a lunch will result in a more enjoyable trip. If you plan on exploring the side canyons and wish to spend more time along the way, plan on a two day trip. A light sleeping bag should be taken. Firewood is available on the sandy banks and in the shoals along the river.

Weather conditions govern the trip season. Late June, September, and early October are usually the best months to plan your trip. It may be dangerous during the spring and summer due to spring run-offs and sudden summer storms. The river can become a raging torrent in a few hours after a summer thunderstorm.

The National Park Service asks that you register at the Visitor Center before undertaking the Narrows. Additional details and suggestions can also be provided. You must not only have someone drive you to the start of the trip, but you must have a vehicle available at the Temple of Sinawava upon your arrival.

Additional Exploring

There are several other worth-while places that you may wish to see that are not on maintained trails. However, they may be reached by secondary roads and walking. Some private property may be crossed and so care must be exercised so that gates and other structures are left as they are found. Plan to stop at the Visitor Center before you attempt these hikes so the ranger can supply you with additional details and current information.


The View from Death Point

Coalpits Wash is a semi-desert area located in the southwest corner of the Park. Beginning at Zion's lowest elevation, it runs up into the pinyon-juniper woodlands at the base of the Cougar Mountain Wilderness Area. It is possible to hike up Coalpits Wash to the old Crater Hill Road and circle back to Highway 15 via Petrified Forest or Huber Wash.

Death Point offers one of the most beautiful and impressive views found in Zion National Park. The panorama of the Finger Canyons and the high Kolob Terrace is reached by a jeep road, off Highway 91 near Kanarraville, Utah, that climbs the Hurricane Fault to Horse Ranch Mountain. A 2-mile trail exists between the end of the jeep road and the Death Point overlook.

Parunuweap Canyon is reached by a jeep road off Highway 15 just below Springdale, Utah. Crossing the Virgin River 5 times in 3 miles, it ends at the Park boundary. There are 3 main attractions in Parunuweap Canyon: the old Mormon settlement of Shunesburg, the East Fork of the Virgin River, and cliff dwellings.

Photo Hints


Zion National Park offers a challenge to even the best photographer. The deep shadows and bright cliffs present a scene of contrasts. If you use your camera and equipment correctly, however, you can obtain excellent pictures on your first trip to Zion. During the summer, mid-morning is the best time of the day to photograph Zion Canyon; mid-day is best in winter. Photography in the high country is best during the morning and late afternoon. Photo times are further discussed with each trail.

Many factors are involved in obtaining good pictures. With the variety of film on the market today, it is important to know and understand the speed of the film you are using. A light meter is a valuable tool when used correctly. It is easy to over-expose your pictures because the open cliffs and terrain reflect a great amount of light. Consider all of your light values: the bright cliffs, dark foliage, and sky. In so doing, you can obtain just the picture desired.

Another photo hint to remember is this: decide what you want to photograph and make that the main part of your picture. It is of little value to photograph a deer that is just a speck in your viewfinder. On the other hand, it is sometimes better to back off a way. Larger subjects, such as the Great White Throne, will look much nicer if they are framed by green foliage. Take your time and compose your picture. Don't shoot from the car but hold the camera still. It is not the quality of the equipment that gives you the best results, but it is your preparation and familiarity with your camera and meter that counts. With just a little more care you can take home with you wonderful remembrances that will help you relive your many experiences in Zion for years to come.

This Booklet is Published By The

Zion Natural History Association

Springdale, Utah

which is a non-profit organization pledged to promote the scientific, educational, historic, and interpretive activities of the National Park Service.

The Association lists for sale many interesting publications, post cards, and colored slides on Zion National Park. May we recommend the following items which give additional information on this scenic area:


You can obtain a complete listing of publications available from the Zion Natural History Association by asking at the Visitor Center desk or writing to the Association.

Original work published before 1970, and contains no copyright notice.

HTML expression copyright © 2003 Leif Bennett. All rights reserved.

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