There’s no denying that the Narrows is one of Zion National Park’s greatest icons and Angel’s Landing and Observation Point two of its best hikes. But what if your time in the St. George area is limited and you have just a quick afternoon but still want to track down an epic view? Canyon Overlook in Zion is the hike for you, my friend.
On our final day in Zion last month, Jade, Christie and I set out from St. George to go back into the park one final time (with a brief stop for pizza and beer at River Rock Roasting first), and the sun was sinking quickly on us, not leaving a lot of time to get anywhere fast.
We all wanted to drive through the Mount Carmel tunnel to reach a different side of Zion, then Jade expressed interest at stopping at Canyon Overlook, a hike I hadn’t been on since my first trip to the park in 2002. It wound up being the perfect solution for us sunset-chasers who sought one last photo stop with little time to spare.
Getting to Canyon Overlook
It’s seven miles from the center of Springdale up Route 9 to the trailhead for Canyon Overlook. It took us about 20 minutes to reach in winter months, but expect to spend longer than that in the car in the height of summer.
Where to Park at Canyon Overlook
There’s only one small lot near the trailhead, but the good news is that you can park along the road at Canyon Overlook, so as soon as you see a spot that’s not too far away, nab it.
Note: From March through the first of November, cars are not allowed on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, meaning it is only accessible by shuttle; however, you can still drive into Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, which is a little over a mile long and in the opposite direction. You’ll have to pay the $30 national park fee to enter, and in the winter, there are park rangers stationed at each end of the tunnel, who direct traffic and collect an additional fee for the tunnel permit from oversized vehicles.
What to Expect on the Hike
What I love so much about Zion is that the rock formations are otherworldly; there are plenty of times you’ll be driving (or hiking) through the park and think, “mother of Pearl—have I landed on Mars?” Nope, you’re just in Zion.
While the hike out to Canyon Overlook itself is pretty easy—it’s mostly even with just some gentle uphill climbs—bear in mind that there’s often no shoulder. What I’m saying is this is not the hike for those with a crippling fear of heights (you hear that, Mom?), nor is it well suited for small children.
The walk itself was a breeze, but I was glad I swapped out my flats for sneakers nonetheless as the footing can be a little unsteady at times.
There are parts where the path gets narrow and hugs the rock wall, but I never felt unsafe. Again, I stress: Wear proper attire, and you’ll be fine.
And then once you reach the turn-around point, the trail opens up and there are plenty of rocks to sit on and just soak up the natural beauty of Southern Utah.
No, but seriously; I’ve done Observation Point, I’ve tackled Angel’s Landing, and I think this view rivals either one.
The trailhead said to allow for one hour for the hike, which I thought was bogus, but I think they meant round-trip and were factoring in photo stops. If you count the time we stopped to soak in the view once at the overlook itself, it did take us right at one hour from start to stop.
I suggest leaving the parking lot about two hours before sunset so you get that golden hour benefit and then don’t have to hike back out in the dark.
Looking for other Zion tips? Check out these Utah posts:
- Everything You Need To Know About Zion National Park
- Hiking the Narrows in Winter
- For the Best View in Zion, Try Observation Point
- Like Zion? You’ll Love Snow Canyon
- Visit These Awesome St. George State Parks
- 7 Tips for Photographing Southern Utah