The Canyon Overlook trail offers unparalleled views of Zion National Park, but unlike some of the other popular hikes in Zion, you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to get to this viewpoint.
We wrote this article to give you a comprehensive and detailed guide for this easy hike in Zion National Park. We’ve also included some extra tips on what to bring for a hike, and where to stay when hiking Canyon Overlook trail.
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Things to Know About Canyon Overlook Trail
- Distance: 1 miles
- Length of Time: 1 hour
- Elevation Gain: 163 ft
- Difficulty: Easy
This trail is currently open, despite the recent road closure and other trail closures.
It features a slight and steady elevation gain over rocky, dirt terrain. Although there are steep drop-offs on one side, the trail itself only has a couple of narrow sections and there are guardrails over most of the edges. The path is not paved, and there are some stone steps in several parts, which means the trail is not wheelchair/stroller accessible.
This trail can be done at any time of day, though it may be more crowded during peak hours. Hiking poles are not recommended due to the narrow sections.
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Hiking Canyon Overlook Trail
Canyon Overlook trail features some of the best views of the eastern side of the park. We started our hike up some stone steps near the eastern exit of the Mount Carmel tunnel.
After a short two minutes climbing up these steps, we immediately get our first breathtaking views of the canyon. We stopped to take some pictures here and then continued forward past a couple of narrow sections with railings.
The halfway point of the trail is a cool, shaded alcove. Here we saw some cool hanging vegetation on the walls and took a short break. This was a great spot to take pictures. Be careful of this area when it’s wet! The thin layer of sand over rock quickly becomes slippery in the rain.
After this section, we crossed a couple more narrow walkways at a slight uphill grade. The trail started to widen right before the viewpoint. It took us about half an hour walking at leisurely pace to reach the viewpoint at the end of the trail.
We took a fifteen minute break here to enjoy the gorgeous views of the valley below. Raf and I overheard a funny conversation from a group of Mormon missionaries here about their time in Brazil. They were trying to understand the indecipherable meaning behind certain Portuguese slang terms. We resisted the urge to chime in on that conversation but we chatted with a couple of other friendly hikers.
After a few more pictures at the top, we began our hike back down. It was easygoing on the way back. A couple of minutes in we saw a furry big horn sheep on the rock above us!
Overall, the trail wasn’t too hard. It afforded us some beautiful views of the Eastern canyons in the park and didn’t require too much effort compared to some of the other hikes in Zion. While there are plenty of guardrails in place over the edges, there were a couple of narrow sections that might make someone fearful of heights uneasy.
What to do After Hiking Canyon Overlook Trail
After your hike, drive through Mount Carmel tunnel towards the main part of the park and have a quick lunch in the town of Springdale. Raf and I loved a the Zion Canyon Brew Pub. They had a wonderful nutty beer on tap, the Burnt Mountain Brown, and a delicious quinoa burger.
Or, if you are heading East out of the park, stop at the town of Kanab for an amazing lunch at the Rocking V Cafe. I had the one of the best veggie burgers of my life there!
Know Before You Go: Canyon Overlook Trail Hiking Tips
When to Visit Canyon Overlook Trail
Although the weather was pretty fair when we went in April, the Mount Carmel tunnel road was actually closed due to severe weather damage from the winter season. This meant we had to take an hour and a half detour around the South of the park to get to the trailhead.
For this reason, we recommend doing Canyon Overlook trail in the Fall when the weather is milder and the crowds smaller.
How to Get to Canyon Overlook Trail
From the South visitor entrance, continue up the main park road until canyon junction. To the left is the Zion canyon scenic drive that is accessible to official park shuttles only during spring-fall. Continue straight to take the road through Mount Carmel tunnel . There is a parking lot immediately on the right side as you exit the tunnel. The trailhead is across the road from the parking lot.
From the East visitor entrance, continue on the main park road through a first small tunnel until you reach the entrance of a second tunnel. This will be the Mount Carmel tunnel. The parking lot will be on the left side and the trailhead will be opposite it.
What to Bring for Hiking in Zion
We recommend the following gear for most Zion hiking trails:
- Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
- Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
- Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
- Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
- Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
- A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
- Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
- Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.
Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.
Where to Stay When Hiking in Zion
To save money, we stayed in an Airbnb in nearby Hurricane. Hurricane is just 40 minutes from Zion by car, and it has everything you need — a grocery store, restaurants, pharmacy, gas stations, etc.
However, if you’d like to be right next to the park, there are tons of hotels and lodges in Springdale, which is just outside of the park entrance. Fellow travelers really love the Cable Mountain Lodge, stating that the rooms are spacious and clean, and it’s super easy to get into the park.
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