Hiking Canyon Overlook in Zion National Park

Have you been dreaming of a gorgeous elopement photoshoot with a view of the Zion Canyon but don’t want sweat dripping down your face (or back!) in the photo? Or, do you have the same genes I do where your face turns bright red after any physical exertion? Doesn’t quite make the most flattering photo shoot. Or maybe you want to be able to wear a gorgeous ankle-length dress that you got for a STEAL from Plato’s Closet. Either way, it sounds like an elopement photo from the top of Angel’s Landing might not make the most sense. Even if you and your partner lucked out and don’t have flush face sweaty genes, hiking most any other view in the canyon in a dress is going to snag. Canyon Overlook is going to be the hike for you.

Distance : 1 mile (1.6 km)

Elevation : 187 ft

Hiking Time : about 1 hour

Difficulty : Easy

How do I get there?

There are a two ways to get to the Canyon Overlook Trailhead: from the Main Entrance and from the East Entrance. From the main entrance, you can drive into the park, follow the road past the main canyon (only shuttles are allowed this way) and through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. Keep in mind the parking for the trail is immediately at the exit of the tunnel – first right. Normally, in the summer, this parking lot is full. There will be another lot on the left after 200 feet as well as a restroom. If that lot is also full, you can parallel park for about a half mile past the trailhead.

To reach the trailhead from the East Side, all of the directions are the same but the opposite, meaning the parallel parking will come first. If the sides of the road seem packed, I wouldn’t risk checking for an open spot in the parking lot. There are only 8 spots and if it’s full, you’ll get stuck in traffic with no where to turn around and end up going through the tunnel.

What to Expect

After you’ve successfully navigated the never-ending tunnel traffic and the kids in the back have stopped screaming and that one friend has stopped pointing out parking spots that you’ve already passed, let’s get going! Like I said, there’s a restroom up the road, not too far, on the same side as the trailhead. There won’t be another restroom on the trail and there’s not really much space to …. create privacy if you know what I mean. So take the necessary stop and start the hike!

It’ll start steep just to get off the road but it only lasts 100 yards. Then you’ll find yourself on a flat and well marked trail. There is a bit of exposure meaning someone with vertigo might find parts of the narrow trail nerve-wracking. There are railings on the most dangerous areas though so you can feel comfortable bringing your grandma and your grandson!

While you’re walking on the trail, you might notice a tight canyon to the left, below the trail. Keep your ears open, that canyon is often rappelled by local adventurers and you might be able to hear them talking.

It’s only a half mile from the road to the overlook and you won’t regret it.

Looking for some extra adventure?

That’s why you hired a local, right?

There’s actually access to a local slot canyon from the overlook trail. The backdrop of the orange and tan hues from the sandstone create an incredibly magical photo shoot.

What to Bring

  • You’re going to want to bring comfortable shoes. The overlook can be done in most anything but if you want heels for the shoot, let’s carry them and replace the tennies once we get there.
  • At least one liter of water per couple. I’m going to be out there with you until you are satisfied, I don’t leave after one angle. We’re going to get multiple angels from different areas so you have a gorgeous variety to choose from.
  • Snacks!

Weather Concerns

We can absolutely still hike Canyon Overlook in inclement weather. We don’t recommend hiking in lightning just because there isn’t tall enough foliage to protect you. But you’re welcome to adventure at your own risk during any time of the year at Zion National Park. As for a photoshoot, if there’s just a light rain, I’ll be out there with you! Unfortunately, if it downpours, I can’t risk my camera equipment. So around July-September, when monsoon season comes, we probably can’t go in the afternoon but hey, evening and early morning lighting are better anyway 😉


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