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
I love a good short cut. One that takes less time is sometimes the only way a visit to a popular attraction can get slotted in. These Zion views are amazing. One hour start to finish is perfect and I love your tip about doing it 2 hours before sunset. Great time for photography.
Definitely! I mean, the golden hour golden rule is the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise, and since I’m never up that early…sunset it is 😉
I’m back home in California right now, and have been seriously contemplating a trip up to Utah to visit Zion. I’ve never been, and it looks amazing!! Thanks for the inpso 🙂
You definitely should! So easy from California, and it’s absolutely stunning there.
I wanted to do this hike in the late afternoon when I was there in December, but there literally was nowhere to park within a mile of the trailhead – and I even made two passes hoping to find a spot! It’s been added to my “next time” list for Zion.
Oh boo, that’s a shame! I’m surprised in December, too. I was actually shocked we got such a good spot as it was a GORGEOUS 60-degree Sunday afternoon on a holiday weekend at that.
I was on board with this gorgeous hike until I saw the part about no shoulder & the fear of heights &… nope. Argh! So pretty though – thanks for letting me live vicariously.
Ha! It really isn’t as scary as I thought it might be. There are hardly any stretches without a shoulder, but I thought it fair to warn people like my mom who are extremely afraid of heights =)
Well, I didn’t really need another excuse to go back to Zion, but I will definitely put this on the list for next time. There’s always a next time 🙂
Right? Four visits and I’ve still only scratched the surface of what I want to do!
To be honest, I’m not sure I could tackle this hike. It looks really narrow at parts. The view is beautiful so I would probably attempt it, but I’d be sweating 🙂
You totally could! It’s really not that bad, I promise 🙂
I visited Zion for my first time a few years back and I quickly added it to my favorite parks top three. My son hiked The Narrows but I wasn’t prepared so I’ve said I’m going back to do it someday – and now I will add this hike. Looks perfect for me.
I agree, Jill! Definitely my top three, along with Glacier and the Smokies.
I’ve never been to Utah and had no idea they have these kind of amazing hikes there. I have a pretty big fear of heights, but it doesn’t look too bad…from your pics at least. And I like to face my fears. As long as the paths next to steep drop-offs don’t get too narrow, I think I’d be fine. I’m definitely gonna add this to my bucket list. And P.S. — your feature photo is incredible (and the entire reason why I clicked on this article)! <3
It really isn’t bad at all! I definitely would NOT do Angels Landing with a fear of heights, but Canyon Overlook is totally doable =)
And thank you!!
It looks like a great hike. We were in Zion last year only for one day, so we did only Angel’s Landing and it was stunning. I would love to do more hikes in Zion. Hopefully, we will do this hike and Narrows next time