Canyon Overlook, Zion National Park

The Canyon Overlook Trail- One Of Zion’s BEST Hikes

If you only had time to do one hike in Zion National Park and you missed the Angel’s Landing permit, I highly suggest putting the Canyon Overlook Trail on your itinerary! It is a short and fun hike that brings you to a point with views deep into Pine Creek and Lower Zion canyons.

This is one the entire family can enjoy. It’s almost surprising that a trail this easy can lead you to some of the best views in the park. While the trail is easy, finding parking and getting to the trailhead can be a bit of a doozy.

In this guide you’ll learn the best time to hike Canyon Overlook, where to park, and trail details along the way. Are you ready for this little but epic Zion hike?

Canyon Overlook Trail Stats

Difficulty | Easy to Moderate
Hiking Distance | 1 mile RT
Elevation Gain | 221 feet
Total Time | 45-60 minutes
Permits | None required
Dogs Allowed | No Dogs Allowed

Zion National Park Info

Entry Fee | $35 per car for 7 days.
Shuttle System | Free, visit the NPS website for schedule.
Permits Needed |
Not for entry or the shuttle, but certain hikes require permits.
Dogs Allowed | Paved paths, developed campgrounds & picnic areas, and Pa’rus Trail.

Did you know Zion National Park is Utah’s first National Park? But before it was established as a such, parts of it were first protected as Mukuntuweap National Monument and Zion National Monument by President William Howard Taft in 1909. 10 years later, in 1919, they were combined and renamed Zion National Park.

Since then we’ve gained much knowledge about the lands within the park and the people who lived off of them. The first inhabitants arrived thousands of years prior and left behind petroglyphs, granaries, artifacts, and more.

While most visitors flock to Zion to hike the Narrows or Angel’s Landing, there is a lot more to see and learn within the park. Zion is vastly different from the remaining Mighty 5 parks in Utah. The tall sandstone cliffs tower above deep ravines and river valleys one wouldn’t expect. There are many trails within the park, but Canyon Overlook is one that gives you a quick and easy experience into just how vast this area is.

When To Hike Canyon Overlook Trail

Zion National Park is open year round which means Canyon Overlook Trail can be hiked any time of the year. While it all comes down to your preference, there are some seasons that are better and safer than others.

Spring and Fall

Temperatures during the spring are ramping up while in the fall they are ramping down. During these seasons the heat is much more bearable but can still experience a random heat wave. It is still best practice to begin your adventures early or later in the afternoon. They also are very busy times for the park so plan on seeing crowds of people.


This guide is based off of my experience in December of 2022, which turned out to be a perfect time for Canyon Overlook trail. While still populated it wasn’t as busy as spring and fall seasons typically are, so, I was able to get a later start than normal. The temperatures were cold but still warm when in the sun. The trail was also in great condition even with a dusting of snow on the ground.


June, July, and August are the hottest months of the year in Zion National Park. It is not suggested to visit during these months due to heat and risk of monsoons and flash flooding. If you do visit during summer, though, choose to do this hike for sunrise or sunset!

Parking & Getting To The Canyon Overlook Trailhead

For whatever reason the Zion Shuttle doesn’t stop at Canyon Overlook Trailhead which means you’ll need your own means of transportation to get you there. The trailhead is located on the side of Highway 9, just outside of the Mount Caramel Tunnel east entrance.

Unfortunately parking is tight year-round, but good news is the turnaround is pretty quick since Canyon Overlook Trail is short. It may take you driving past it a couple times to score a parking spot, but believe me it is worth it!

Below is a map depicting the the two parking lots in comparison to the trailhead location. There is one right across the road and an overflow lot further down the road. Both are small and parking is tight so if you have a large rig you may have a difficult time.

Zion Canyon Overlook parking.

The overflow lot further up the road is the better choice for larger rigs. On this side of Highway 9 there also is room on the shoulder for cars to park, facing the trailhead and tunnel. I found this the easiest both times I’ve hiked Canyon Overlook. It’s easier to pull in and out, and is just a short walk down the road to the trailhead!

Preparation saves lives. Know where you are going ahead of time and always have a way to keep yourself on trail. One way to do this is with a GPS system or app like Gaia GPS.

You can download my Canyon Overlook Trail hike and gain access to my library of all tracked hikes. Once downloaded, you can load it into your own trusty device for ease of mind!

Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion.

Hiking Canyon Overlook Trail

Once you’ve made it to the trailhead you’ll begin the Canyon Overlook trail by climbing up a short but very steep and winding series of steps. This is where you gain a majority of the elevation. After the initial stairs the trail flattens out for quite a while.

Overall the trail is very easy to follow and well maintained. There are narrow sections with steep drop offs, but most of these dangerous areas have a railing on the edge.

For a large portion of the hike there will be a sandstone wall on your right side, and drop offs on the left. This is because the trail is carved out of the canyon wall, following the natural path of Pine Creek Narrows.

There were several families hiking to Canyon Overlook at the same time as I was. Some with middle aged kids and some with little ones. The kids seemed to be enjoying the hike because it is easy enough for them to do on their own, but at certain parts their parents made them hold hands due to drop offs.

The views from within the canyon are absolutely stunning. I kept stopping to look behind me because the views were just as good! At one point you can see cars travel along a small section of the highway just before the Mount Caramel Tunnel. It was too shaded for a good photo, but a beautiful sight nonetheless.

Just before you reach the end of the trail there will be a few more steps and elevation to gain. The trail ends at a very large outcropping of rock that requires you to climb up and down to get the vantage point you want. It is at the very top of these rocks that you get the best angle into Lower Zion Canyon!

This viewpoint is usually always populated, so explore carefully. There is only a safety railing at one portion of area. Some people get extremely close to the edge and it makes me nervous every time!

Once you get your fill you just turn around and hike out the way you came. If you’re traveling from the east to the west and have yet to drive through all of Zion National Park, I highly suggest stopping to take a look at the below view of Canyon Overlook.

Zion National Park natural arch under Canyon Overlook.

The red arrow in the image above shows where you would be standing at the end of Canyon Overlook Trail! As you’re driving through Zion National Park towards the Visitor Center there will be a pull-off on the right side of the road. From here you can see the natural arch that sits below Canyon Overlook.

Treat It Like Home!

When visiting don’t forget to treat the area like it’s your own. Help preserve and protect our lands by following the Leave No Trace Principals:

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimize campfire impacts
  • Respect wildlife
  • Be considerate of other visitors
Zion Canyon Overlook Trail.

Final Thoughts On Hiking Canyon Overlook Trail

My first visit to Zion National Park was spring of 2020 and I can’t believe Canyon Overlook Trail wasn’t on my radar. I hadn’t even heard of it and drove right past it, paying no attention. But during my next visit in fall of 2020 I paid closer attention and chose to hike it. I’m so glad that I did!

I chose to hike Canyon Overlook again in December of 2022. I must say that I prefer this trail in the winter due to less people and cooler temperatures. The overlook into the canyon is completely exposed and sits in the sun all day. Plus the dusting of snow really adds to the landscape!

Regardless of season, I think I’ll always hike this trail when I visit Zion. It is a short and fun trail that offers great reward. I haven’t been able to time a visit for sunrise or sunset yet, so maybe next time I’ll be able to experience the canyon views with beautiful lighting.

I hope you plan on adding Canyon Overlook to your Zion itinerary!

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I’d love to hear from you!

Are you planning a trip to Zion National Park soon and putting Canyon Overlook Trail on your itinerary? Or have you hike it before? Share in the comments below.

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