A mile-long hike near the park’s eastern entrance, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a wonderful introduction to Zion Canyon (or a nice look back on your way out, too). This short but fun trail will take you over slickrock, above slot canyons, and into some small alcoves before giving you a phenomenal view of the canyon floor from the east.
Just to the east of the park’s eastern entrance, on the way to Mount Carmel Junction, there’s a short but sweet trail right next to the historic Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel called the Canyon Overlook Trail. If you’re on your way into the park, it will give you a good introduction to the geography and geology of the region – and if you’re on your way out it’s a nice way to gaze one last time at one of the most beautiful places in the country.
The trail starts right before the eastern entrance to the tunnel. Look for a trailhead sign and a set of stairs cut into the rock.
After a steep climb, the trail remains relatively level. Almost immediately, the canyon opens up into some dramatic, otherworldly landscapes … even though you can’t actually see Zion Canyon until the end of the trail.
For such a short and relatively easy route, the Canyon Overlook Trail passes a stunning variety of landscapes. You’ll meander past deep slot canyons, cling to slickrock walls, and duck under some gnarled pinon pines – all while soaking in the amazing red rock landscape around you. There is one very short section where you’ll have to cross a small wooden plank bridge into an alcove. If you’re extremely nervous about heights, you might have to take a few deep breaths but it’s nothing to be afraid of.
After a short distance, the trail comes upon a small slickrock slope. Climb this final obstacle and your reward is a phenomenal view of the canyon floor below you (and the switchbacks of the Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway, too!).
Return back the way you came – making sure you take time to notice any hidden gems the desert might be showing off along the way.
Note: The Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel was built in the 1920s and cannot accommodate some oversized vehicles. If you have a large vehicle, you will have to pay an additional fee to have the tunnel closed to two-way traffic for you. During the winter months, you’ll have to make this request before your arrival. Visit the Park’s Tunnel Site for more info.
Very good. This trail has a small paved section, then heads into mostly slickrock territory where you'll have to pay attention to stone cairns to find your way. There are a few small scrambles and steep drop-offs but nothing that should give you any pause.
This trail is just to the east of the Zion - Mt. Carmel Tunnel on the park's eastern side. There are a few very small parking areas near the tunnel's eastern entrance. If you can't find a spot there, you'll have to head a bit further east on Route 9 to find a place to pull off the road.
Learn about new trail guides, outdoor news, and be the first to learn about events in the free Modern Hiker Newsletter. All original content and guaranteed not to flood your inbox -- new issues usually come every 2-3 weeks.
On May 8th, most Los Angeles city and county trails will re-open with restrictions and safety guidelines.
This follows nearby trail re-openings in San Diego and Ventura Counties a few weeks ago, as well as in the San Francisco Bay area.
Because the situation on the ground is changing rapidly and so many different jurisdictions and land agencies are involved, we STRONGLY recommend checking with the park you'd like to visit before you go to make sure they're open. Bring a mask, stay socially distanced, and have backup plans in case the trailhead you want to use is too crowded.
Remember, these trails can be closed again and if we don't follow safety guidelines, they will be.