Zion National Park is the most visited national park in the state of Utah, with an ever-increasing amount of people being drawn to the massive canyon and amazing scenery. This translates, especially in the summer months, to crowds. Zion has tried to manage this by offering shuttles into the park and timed entries for hiking.
But there are less visited areas in Zion that you might want to explore. We previously talked about Kolob Canyon on the north west side of Zion, but there are also some great opportunities on the East side.
East Rim Trail
Just inside the East Entrance, off the Zion – Mount Carmel highway, there is a short dirt road that ends at a parking lot. This is the trailhead to the East Rim Trail, an out and back trail of almost any distance. Technically you can hike all the way to Observation Point, but that is going to be a LONG hike.
But even a shorter hike on this trail is rewarding. It’s a pretty easy path (but sandy) with some great views of the steep canyon walls that make Zion so iconic.
We hiked 3 miles in to a point called Jolly Gulch. It was interesting because the trail would back on itself – you could look across the canyon and see where you came from, or where you are going.
The flowers were amazing – wildflowers and flowering cactus. But we were happy to have been there in June, because it would have been a hot hike later in the summer. Even in June we were sure to carry lots of water and sunscreen.
As we walked back towards the trailhead, every turn gave us more stunning views of Checkerboard Mesa and all of the crazy sandstone formations off in the distance. Best of all, we saw more lizards than other hikers!
Plan your Visit to Zion
We know that it wouldn’t be enough for a first-time visitor of Zion to only visit the out of the way places. Of course you will want to go into Zion Canyon and see all the amazing sights there. But don’t lock yourself in. Think outside the box and discover some of the hidden gems of Zion National Park and Zion Wilderness.
Fun fact: did you know that 84% of Zion is designated wilderness, forever protecting the character of the land.
Are you trying to visit all the National Parks?
If your goal is to visit them, one or all, we’d love to help you strategize. Give us a call at (480) 609-3978 or drop us a note here. We always enjoy talking with people who share our passion for visiting National Parks, and National Park Units.