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Why A Weekend Is Too Short At Zion National Park

A view down the Zion National Park valley from Angel's Landing Trail which is one of the best hikes in utah
Viewpoint along Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

When you look at Zion National Park, it may seem small. But if you really want to experience Zion to the fullest, you will need longer than a weekend or you will just be itching to go back for more. Therefore, in this travel guide I will explain why a weekend is too short at Zion National Park. If you are an avid hiker, you won’t want to miss some of these hikes listed below. 

Shuttle Through Zion Canyon (¼+ day)

Zion has a lot to offer. We would suggest taking the free shuttle to the last stop, just to see the amazing canyon walls. On the way back you can stop at one of the destinations listed below. There are 9 stops on the shuttle, which are about every 7-10 minutes. The schedule changes depending on the time of year. Check out this website HERE for more details.

Angel’s Landing or Observation Point (½-full-day)

Observation Point

Angel’s Landing and Observation Point offer a similar view down the canyon. If you are up for an adrenaline rush, then Angel’s Landing is for you. For majority of the Angel’s Landing hike, you will walking a narrow path with 1500 foot cliffs on each side of you. The hike is 5 miles with 1500 feet elevation change. 

Angel’s Landing

If you want to make it to the rim of the canyon and are up for a more strenuous hike, then observation point is for you. But the elevation for Observation Point is no joke. The hike is 8 miles with 2100 feet elevation change. 

You will need about 3-6 hours for either of these hikes. But both prove why a weekend is too short at Zion. Because by choosing one of these hikes it consumes the majority of your day. 

See my article for help choosing between: Angels Landing Vs. Observation Point.

The Subway (½ day-Full day)


The subway is a moderate hike with one of the coolest endpoints. And simply proves why a weekend is too short at Zion. You hike along a river the whole time and are surrounded by the tall canyon walls. 

There are two ways to hike the subway. You can go from the top down, which is 9.5 miles point to point, but you need to be able to repel down parts of the canyon and have a shuttle or car at the bottom. 

Or you can hike from bottom to top which is 9 miles roundtrip. You will be crossing the North Fork River for the majority of this hike. 

For the full details on The Subway Hike, check out our post: Everything You Need To Know About The Subway 

The Narrows (2 days)


The Narrows can be done two different ways. You can hike the Narrows from bottom-up which requires a permit, or as an out and back day hike without a permit by starting at, The Temple Of Sinawava (bus stop #9). 

But I recommend doing the whole hike from the top-down. Which will simply again proves that a weekend is too short at Zion. You will need to obtain a backcountry permit (which can be hard to get). There is a lottery system where you must apply for a permit at least 3 months in advance. But, you can also get lucky and score a walk in permit, but I wouldn’t relay on this option if you have the option. 

The backpacking trip of the Narrows from top-down is 15.5 miles. With a backcountry permit you will be assigned a designated campsite ½ way along this hike. 

There is an option to do the top-down hike in a single day, but it is not encouraged as the hike is very strenuous, hiking in and out of the river for majority of the hike.

You will need to book a shuttle to the trailhead of the narrows which is 1+hours away with a company or have two cars you can carpool with. We used Zion Adventure Company as our shuttle company and it worked great.

You are hiking through the North Fork Virgin River for the majority of the hike and surrounded by the tall beautiful canyon walls. Make sure to pick up the proper gear from Zion Outfitter or Zion Adventure Company

You won’t want to miss out on this one as it is one of the most unique hikes.

For the full details on The Narrows Hike, check out our post: How To Conquer The Narrows Hike

Emerald Pools (¼-½ day)

Emerald Pools hike can be awesome depending on what time of year you go. This hike is rated as easy and is about 2 miles. 

The waterfalls at Lower Emerald Pool’s are bigger in the spring due to snow melt. The waterfalls flow changes in the summer and fall depending on rainfall. (The picture to the left above was taken in October). 

To move onto the Middle Emerald Pools you have to walk under the waterfalls, but don’t worry, you will only get a little sprinkle of water on you. On a hot day, it will feel really refreshing! You then have to climb up 200 ft of elevation to get to the middle pools which are what forms the waterfalls below. (The picture to the right) 

To go onto the Upper Emerald Pools, you have to climb another 200 feet of elevation. You will then see a 300-foot cliff which sometimes has water trickling down.

Court of the Patriarch’s (>¼ day)

Court of the Patriarch’s (bus stop #4) is one of the easiest trails at Zion, but it rewards with great views. It’s a short walk that only takes a few minutes and to a great photo opportunity. The individual rocks are named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob after the biblical figures. It’s a nice stop after a long hike when your feet need a little break!

Zion Museum (¼-½ day)

If you are into rich history and want to learn all about Zion National Park, the museum will give you a lot of information. You can learn how Zion National Park was created over the years and about the American-Indian culture.  They also share information about how water has helped and destroyed parts of the park. You can watch videos about the park and there is a ranger around to answer any questions you might have.

Takeaway | Zion National Park Guide

There are also many other hikes at Zion that you might enjoy, but these were some of our favorite hikes at Zion! Jake and I made the mistake of only having a weekend our first time at Zion, but when we have revisited, we made sure we extended our stay! There are simply just too many must-see locations which makes a weekend too short at Zion. 

To really get a good feel of the park, you will definitely want more than a weekend or you will just want to go back and explore more!

What are your favorite hikes at Zion National Park?

Also check out our article about Kanarra Creek which is another great hike near Zion!

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