KSL Studio 5 Utah National Parks Bucket List

Ideas for Visiting the National Parks at Spring Break

Capitol Reef National Park

Spring Break is upon us in Utah, which means road trip season to southern Utah with the national parks as favorite destinations.

Recommendations for Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks

Here is a short list of places we recommend visiting at Utah’s national parks. This isn’t a complete list but if you could only visit one or two places, we think this list is worth adding to plans.

Be Prepared

With all the snow we’ve received this winter in Utah and throughout the west, popular spring break destinations may not be quite the same as travelers are accustomed to. Planning accordingly will be important to assure a successful trip. Southwest Utah is currently at 227 percent of normal snowfall, the most in the state. Many of the traditional playgrounds for spring break could still be under snow.

Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks

Here are a few recommendations for hiking trails and other things to do.

Utah’s most popular park for visitors from out of state is also the most popular park for locals. Here are some of the places we recommend visiting we think should be high on your list.

  • Angels Landing – A permit is now required to hike the last section leading to Angels Landing that begins at Scout Lookout. The trail to Scout Lookout begins at the Grotto shuttle stop. Click here to read about one of our experiences on Angels Landing with suggestions, tips and video of our adventure.
  • The Narrows – This is Zion’s most popular trail that anyone can hike when conditions are allowable. The trail begins at the end of the Riverside Walk from Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. The park closes The Narrows section when the Virgin River is flowing at 150 cfs (cubic feet per second) or higher. We expect this to be the case through the early weeks of summer considering the amount of snow in this year’s snowpack. Click here to read our trip through The Narrows with Tim Hughes and his family.
  • Big Bend to Weeping Rock – There is a little-known trail in the main canyon between the Big Bend and Weeping Rock shuttle stops. It follows the Virgin River below the road and offers some of the best views of Angels Landing, the Great White Throne, Cable Mountain, and Organ Rock. The trail can be taken in either direction, we’ve marked the trailheads on the map below. The descent on the Big Bend side requires a bit of scrambling, nothing serious.

Eastside of Zion

  • Observation Point – The trailhead for Observation Point from Zion Canyon has been closed since the Cable Mountain landslide of 2019. However, the trail is accessible from on top near Zion Ponderosa Ranch. (See map) We recommend checking conditions of the dirt road to the trailhead prior to making the trip. Out and back is approximately 6.5 miles with some undulation, but nothing as strenuous as the trail from the canyon. we think this trail offers the best view of Zion Canyon.
  • Canyon Overlook – Located on the east entrance to the Zion Tunnel, the trailhead is just a few steps from the ranger shack. Parking is very limited and often a challenge. There is a small lot across from the ranger’s shack and another down the road a short distance on the north side. We recommend going early before the late morning crowd arrives. We recommend this for all hikes in the main section of the park. The hike is approximately 1.5 miles out and back and require climbing steps and has some exposure along the trail. The payoff is the jaw-dropping view at the end of the canyon below and surrounding cliffs. We make it a point to take our tour groups of all ages on this trail.
  • Many Pools – Located .8 mile east the shorter second tunnel on the east side of the park. Look for the trailhead with a small turnout parking lot and restrooms. The trailhead is 400 feet north of the parking area on the north side of the road. You have to really look for where you drop down to the bottom below the road. The many sandstone pockets in the rock fill with water with snow melt or when raining, which cascades to the bottom. Click here to read about our experience at Many Pools. 
  • Recommendation – If you would like to experience another side of Zion and avoid the crowds in the busy season in the main canyon, we suggest visiting the east side where there are many opportunities in and near the park for canyoneering, Jeep adventures, horseback riding and more. Visit East Zion Adventures | Utah Jeep Tours, Canyoneering & More

Kolob Terrace

  • Northgate Peaks – Located in the Kolob Terrace section of the park, which is accessible by a long hike from the West Rim trail from Zion Canyon or by paved road near the Town of Virgin. This 4-mile out and back trail is one of our favorites. The views at the end looking toward West Temple are breathtaking. If you climb to one of the higher points (strenuous) the 360-degree views are some of the best in the park. Here’s an article about what of our experiences at North Gate Peaks.
  • Hop Valley TrailThe Hop Valley Trail is located in the Kolob Terrace wilderness area of Zion National Park. This is not a classic trail like those found in Zion Canyon. It’s a primitive route that connects the upper Kolob Terrace section with La Verkin Creek trail in lower section of Kolob Canyons. Once you reach La Verkin Creek you can continue on by following the trail to Kolob Arch. The distance from the trailhead to LaVerkin Creek is approximately 6.5 miles, we logged just over 14 miles round-trip with added wandering.

Kolob Canyons

  • Zion National Park’s Kolob Canyons is located on the far northwest tip of the park next to Interstate-15 south of the New Harmony exit. There is a separate visitors center located here where entrance fees can be paid that are valid for any fee area in the park. There is a five-mile road in this section that ends in a circular parking lot that offers panoramic views of the finger canyons of Kolob. It’s also the trailhead for the 1-mile hike (out and back) on the Timbercreek Overlook Trail (easy). There are several other trails located alone the lower stretches of the road including the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek (5 miles out and back), La Verkin Creek to Kolob Arch (14 miles out and back), and South Fork of Taylor Creek (3 miles out and back). We’ve hiked all these trails and enjoy them all. See map below. 

This is just a short list of trails we enjoy at Zion National Park, for more trail information and general information on Zion click here where you can find helpful links for shuttle information, Angels Landing permits, river conditions, and more.

Zion National Park Information Guide (nps.gov)


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