Zion National Park is a world-renowned destination. Its towering sandstone monoliths and unique hikes can’t be beat.
Zion’s singular beauty means the park gets crowded during peak tourism months. Luckily, other destinations exist right around Zion National Park that are excellent alternatives if the park is too crowded for your liking.
The main canyon in Zion National Park is the gateway to its famous hikes, like the Narrows and the Emerald Pools. While those hikes are incredible, what most visitors remember about their first time at the park is the view of the main canyon itself.
If the crowds are too big but you still want to see the canyon, Observation Point is the trail for you. The view of the main canyon is stunning. You can access the trail from the east rim at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort and eliminate the crowds and roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain. People of all ages and relatively good fitness can hike to Observation Point without too much trouble. It’s not an easy hike, per se – it’s about 7 miles round trip – but it’s certainly less strenuous than hiking the East Rim trail from the bottom of the canyon.
Along with the Observation Point trail head, the Cable Mountain trailhead is best accessed from the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.
With views of the West Temple, Mount Kinesava, the Towers of the Virgin, and the Eagle Crags, the Chinle trail is another great way to see the wonders of Zion National Park while avoiding large crowds.
[source: Zion National Park]
What’s most alluring about the Chinle Trail is that it’s the only official trail in the desert section of the east side of Zion National Park. It’s also an out-and-back trail, so you can hike along until you’ve seen enough sights and leave. This makes it a great choice for families who are unsure how all members will handle a longer hike.
This is one of Zion’s most historically significant areas. Back in 1901, the Cable Mountain Draw Works began hauling lumber from the top of the canyon rim 2,000 feet down to the canyon floor via tram. It quit operating in 1927 but remains a lasting and important piece of early Utah history.
Normally, the Cable Mountain hike is 15-18 miles long, depending on the route you take. However, Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort has access to an area of the park that allows you to eliminate a large portion of elevation gain and only make an 8-mile round trip hike.
And of course you’ll find incredible views of the main canyon and the rest of Zion National Park from atop Cable Mountain. It’s a more difficult hike, but extremely worth the reward.
No matter your confidence in your hiking abilities, patience with crowds, or desire for solitude, you can find less-viewed areas of Zion National Park during any time of the year. Whether you come during peak season or not, these three hikes are some of the best ways to gain an alternative view of one of the world’s most incredible canyons.