For a downloadable PDF version of this guide CLICK HERE!
If you’re spending time in Zion National Park and want to get one of the best views in the park, Observation Point should be on your list! It is one of the highest points in the main canyon and offers a 360-degree view of its surroundings. The hike is challenging, has interest points along the way such as weeping rock and echo canyon, and the reward at the top is a view that’ll make you want to stay there… FOREVER!
Time Required: 4-6 Hours
Trailhead: Weeping Rock Trailhead
Distance: 13km (8 miles) round trip
Highest Elevation: 1980m (6500ft)
Elevation Gain: 1463m (4800ft)
Difficulty: 7/10 – Long hike with consistent elevation gain
Season: Year-round. Spring and fall are most pleasant. Summer can be very hot and winter can be icy and dangerous.
Additional Requirements: N/A
From St. George: Travel on the I-15 North towards Salt Lake City, after 11 km (7 miles) merge onto UT-9 East via exit 16 and travel 20km (12.5 miles) through Hurricane and then up to La Verkin. Take a right turn in La Verkin to continue on the UT-9 East for 32km (20 miles) until you come into Springdale. Follow that same road until you pull up to the Zion park entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A North through Fredonia, AZ and Kanab, UT. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take UT-9 West to Zion’s East Park Entrance.
From the North: Travel the I-15 South past Beaver, UT and exit on Hwy 20. Head east until you reach US-89, then head south to the Mount Carmel Junction. Take UT-9 west to Zion’s East Park Entrance.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes. Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters. You could get away with runners but having extra grip on the rock surfaces will definitely come in handy!
- Water: This hike is long with lots of elevation gain to reach the summit. Be sure to bring enough water for 4-6 hours of physical exertion in the hot sun.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike. Some of our favorite snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
- Weather appropriate clothing: Temperatures can get up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the summertime. Shorts, a breathable long sleeve shirt, and a hat can help protect you from the sun and heat. In the winter, the temperature can drop below freezing and it is possible to encounter snow. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Camera: There are tons of photo opportunities along the way you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Heat and Dehydration: In Zion National Park, the days can be very hot. Limit sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day. Appropriate clothing such as a hat and long sleeve shirt can protect your skin from the sun as well as reduce the risk of dehydration. The hot weather increases your need for fluid intake. Ensure you are hydrating throughout the day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water.
Steep Cliffs: Stay on the trail, stay back from cliff edges and be careful of sand or loose rocks that can make for a slippery surface. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when you are trying to capture the perfect photo. During the winter months, the trail can be snow and ice covered so be extra careful and wear traction devices on your shoes for extra grip.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
ZION SHUTTLE SYSTEM
Zion Shuttle System: During the busy months (March to November), Zion National Park has a free shuttle system to help move large numbers of visitors around the park. When the shuttle is in operation Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles so visitors must rely on the shuttle service. The shuttle departs from the Zion Visitor Center and stops at nine locations in the park. The shuttles run very frequently between 7am and 6:15pm and you should never have to wait more than 10-15 minutes. Although you can park at the Visitor Center, the lot fills up quickly so it is best to park in the town of Springdale and take the Springdale Shuttle to the park gate.
The Springdale Shuttle leaves from the Majestic View Lodge and stops at the Zion Canyon Theatre. From the Zion Canyon Theatre, cross through the National Park Pedestrian Entrance to pay the entry fee, then catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle from the Visitor Center.
There are many Springdale Shuttle stops between the Majestic View Lodge, and Zion Canyon Theater. Walk to the nearest stop from your accommodation or drive and park in a marked “Shuttle Parking” area.
Summary: Observation Point is a challenging hike due to its elevation but it is straightforward as far as directions go. From the trailhead we recommend making a quick detour to check out Weeping Rock and then ascending the well-marked trail up multiple sets of switchbacks to Observation Point.
This hike starts at the Weeping Rock Trailhead (Route marker #1 on the map). There is an easy to follow trail that will begin to take you up the canyon and then fork to the left to Weeping Rock (Route Marker #2 on the map). Weeping rock is a short detour worth checking out before heading up to Observation Point.
From Weeping Rock backtrack to the main trail and then head up the series of switchbacks with consistent and exhausting elevation gain. You can try to distract yourself from the physical challenge by enjoying the already amazing views of Zion.
Eventually the trail will level out and you will enter Echo Canyon Passage (Route marker #3 on the map). Echo Canyon is a slot canyon, 1000ft above the valley floor. The hiking trail takes you through the slot canyon making for some great photo opportunities.
After Echo Canyon you will come to the East Rim Trail Junction. Take a left and make your way up the final round of switchbacks and elevation gain. Once you’ve reached the end of these switchbacks the terrain levels out for the last mile. This is part of the East Rim Trail that will lead to Observation Point.
Once you make it to Observation Point (Route marker #4 on the map) you will be treated to incredible views of Zion. This is a tough hike but being atop Observation Point on a nice day is totally worth it! After taking in the views you can return to Weeping Rock trailhead by backtracking the same way you came up.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Thank you for choosing Epic Trip Adventures as your guide. We are committed to continually updating our guides to be as relevant and accurate as possible. If you have feedback to improve this guide please leave it in the comments below.
We also want to hear about your Observation Point adventures. If you have stories, pictures or even a link to your own adventure video please share them below!
Have fun out there!