5. Lava Point Overlook on Upper Kolob Plateau
This viewpoint was a recent addition to our Zion National Park knowledge, as it is in the oft-overlooked “middle” section of the park. This isn’t in the main Zion Canyon or in the part that is immediately east of Interstate 15. Lava Point Overlook is in the middle ground, providing a spectacular overview of Zion Canyon. We watched about seven thunderstorms in various states of rage from the overlook the day we ventured down the road to the reservoir. The road is long and for the most part paved. The views on the way to the overlook showcase the red rocks of the park and then the forests when you take a dirt road to the overlook.
4. Observation Point
The Observation Point trail takes you a viewpoint with a beautiful view down canyon, where you can look down at the tiny road and Virgin River and be at eye level with the tops of the towering rock walls around you. The hike is at times strenuous and repetitious and long, but it has some beautiful turns, especially in the winter.
3. Upper Emerald Pool
I am a sucker for reflections, and the Upper Emerald Pool provides a striking one of a peak across the canyon. The trail was covered in ice in February, which provided a few treacherous moments, but it was worth it. In the summer, there would not be that problem, but the crowd would detract from the scenery.
2. Pine Creek Canyon
This is a view most Zion visitors will never have, but if you have the opportunity, take it. That’s me in a wetsuit and helmet in part of the underbelly sewer system of Zion in Pine Creek Canyon. This is a technical canyon that begins at the east entrance to the tunnel and ends a few switchbacks down the other side. It is dark, filled with pools of water that require wading or swimming, and rappelling when downclimbing is not possible. Parts of the canyon are visible to the less adventurous from a trail that begins at the east tunnel entrance. Seeing the path a former stream created is a beautiful thing.
1. Angel’s Landing
The famed Angel’s Landing. Maybe you have heard of it because of its tricky trail up slick stone. Maybe you have heard of the thousand-foot drops on both sides of the trail when the trail is only a couple feet wide. Or maybe Walter’s Wiggles are calling your name.
Whatever the reason is, this is the trail everyone wants to climb, even when everyone shouldn’t. There are real risks here. But most everyone still seems to love it, including me. It is not the highest trail, but I like that the walls are still high above me at the end of the trail. Everything surrounding me seemed much closer here than at Observation Point, for instance. I think it is the heart of the park. Just don’t stay at the landing too long, because you really do not want to hike down in the dark.