Observation Point provides some of the most impressive views of Zion National Park. Once at the lookout point, you can see deep into the canyon of Zion and even beyond if it is a clear day.
There are two ways to get to Observation Point within Zion National Park- from the bottom of the canyon, within the park itself where you’ll climb over 2000 feet in elevation, or from a more hidden trail, named East Mesa Trail, which begins from the top of the canyon.
This hike review is going to cover the easier trail of the two, which is accessed outside of the park via East Mesa Trail. If climbing thousands of feet in elevation doesn’t sound fun and you are looking for an easier way to reach Observation Point- you’ve found it!
OBSERVATION POINT TRAIL STATS
Distance: 7 miles RT
Type: Out and Back
Summit Elevation: 6,521 feet
Elevation Gain: 572 feet
Location: Zion National Park
Trailhead: East Mesa Trailhead
Note: The trail covered in this post leads to Observation Point within Zion National Park but begins outside of the park in a more remote location. It is easier than hiking from the bottom.
Pro Tip: The trail leading from the bottom of the canyon can be closed a lot of the time. If it is, the East Mesa Trail will be your way of being able to still hike to Observation Point!
WHEN TO VISIT
Mid-late spring, summer, or in the fall are the best times to hike to Observation Point from the East Mesa Trail. Some of the hike is exposed to the sun and would be extremely hot during the summer unless you can begin and end before afternoon hits.
If you visit midday the sun can be extremely harsh for photos. Because of the easy nature of this trail, it wouldn’t be a bad one to hike for sunrise or sunset!
The main thing you want to look out for when visiting is the road condition. Early Spring, or even after a big rainstorm, you can expect the back roads and trail itself to be muddy. If you don’t have a 4×4 it will be difficult to reach the East Mesa Trailhead in the mud.
If you’re staying at the nearby Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort it would be wise to check the with them on the condition of the road before embarking on your adventure!
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Utah’s Mighty 5 I highly suggest investing in the America The Beautiful Park Pass– you’ll get your money’s worth!
HOW TO GET TO OBSERVATION POINT AND EAST MESA TRAILHEAD
To get to Observation Point from outside of Zion National Park you will take East Mesa Trailhead. Getting to the trailhead can be confusing if you aren’t use to the back roads so I suggest mapping it with your GPS.
From Zion National Park you will take UT-9 and turn left on N Fork Country Road. You’ll stay on this road for several miles as it climbs and winds through the mountains.
You’ll want to turn left once you see Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort like you’re visiting there, but keep going straight on Twin Knolls road instead of making another left turn into the resort.
From there you’ll follow the road until it turns to dirt and continue along, following the signs for Observation Point along the way. As mentioned, the dirt roads can get extremely muddy after the snow melts or after a bad rainstorm. If you don’t have a 4×4 I’d proceed with caution or be sure to only visit when it is dry!
GETTING TO EAST MESA TRAILHEAD FROM ZION PONDEROSA RANCH RESORT
If you are staying at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort it’ll be a shorter drive for you to get to the trailhead. All you have to do is head out of the resort as you normally would, but turn left on Twin Knolls road instead of right.
If you are still weary of where to go, you can ask for a map at the front desk. They are always ready to help you find your next adventure at Zion!
You can read all about them in my post below!
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.
You can download my Observation Point track 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!
HIKING OBSERVATION POINT
Once you make it to the East Mesa trailhead, there will be a small parking lot to park at. If you are weary of the rough roads you can always find a place to park your car off to the side and hike the remainder to the trailhead.
When I visited I parked about 1/2 of a mile from the trailhead because I wasn’t sure my SUV could make it. This did add distance to the overall hike length but it was better to be safe than sorry!
East Mesa Trailhead is correct, but there is a sign for Observation Point Trailhead as well. Don’t let this confuse you- you’re on the right trail!
The beginning of the hike to Observation Point is peaceful due to the level trail and beautiful vegetation you’re traversing through. The tall trees are few and far between, though, so they don’t provide much coverage from the sun.
The last half mile of the East Mesa Trail begins descending down to the canyon rim. The terrain turns into loose sand, almost like you’re walking at the beach.
Eventually you’ll come to a fork in the trail, you’ll want to keep right. It may not seem like the way, but it is! You’ll begin to see hints of the lookout point as you continue to get closer.
You’ll know once you’ve arrived to Observation Point because the trail will dead end right onto the canyon rim, leaving you with some of the most impressive views into Zion!
There is plenty of space for groups to spread out on cliff’s edge to take pictures without anyone else being in them. It is also a great place to take a break to sit, relax, and listen to the silence.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of the views you’ll go back the way you came. On the way back there will be a bit of elevation to climb but it is still rated easy.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HIKING OBSERVATION POINT FROM ZION PONDEROSA
Although moderately long in length, the hike to Observation Point from East Mesa Trail is easy and well worth the effort. If you are staying at the nearby Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort it is the perfect hike into Zion without having to actually drive into the park!
I was pleasantly surprised by the views into the canyon. Pictures don’t do the grandness of it all justice! I highly suggest hiking to Observation Point to see for yourself.
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