Hiking Observation Point in Zion National Park

It’s undeniable, Observation Point in Zion National Park has some of the most magnificent views we’ve ever seen. A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a friend talking about how she has been trying to get herself outside, going on short trails, listening to the birds, and it didn’t seem to be helping the funk she was in. After talking for a while, turns out she keeps hiking the same underwhelming trails from her hometown and she realized that while she had been getting herself outside, she hadn’t felt a sense of awe in a long time. Observation point *from the East Mesa* is a flat 7 mile trail that leads to the most incredible sense of awe that I really hope you get to experience some day.

Distance : 7 miles (11.3 km)

Elevation : 700ft

Hiking Time : about 3 hours

Difficulty : Easy/Moderate

*Note* The lower trail to Observation Point, hiking up from Weeping Rock inside the park, has been closed since a rock fall happened in 2019.

You can watch a YouTube video of the rock fall, caught on a phone from a hiker on Angel’s Landing, here.

How do I get there?

You can still access Observation Point from the East Mesa Ponderosa Ranch. It’s about an hour drive from Springdale to a 10-car parking lot. Most cars can make it down the dirt two track, it’s well maintained. However, if there’s been a recent big rain or the ground is still covered in snow, you might need 4wheel drive or all wheel drive.

*Local Thought* The landowners near this trailhead having been growing more frustrated with people parking outside of the designated areas which could lead to a closure of this access.

If you arrive early, you’ll probably be able to find a spot. Please only park in the designated parking area or hire a shuttle service from a local guide shop. If you’re unable to arrive early, go ahead and secure a spot on the shuttle from Zion Ponderosa Ranch HERE. If you arrive and the lot is full, you can go get in line but expect during the summer to have to wait at least an hour.

What to Expect

You’ll start on a mellow trail that’s primarily flat, clearly marked, and well maintained. You gain about 300 ft of elevation for the first 2.5 miles and then drop a steep decline down to Observation Point.

How to Prepare

Download the Map

You will end up leaving service on your way and will not have service for much of the trail. I suggest downloading the map to the trailhead and the map of the actual hike before leaving service. Two great apps for off-grid adventuring are AllTrails, which follows your location and allows you to download trails in advance, and GaiaGPS. AllTrails has trail information uploaded from users while GaiaGPS is primarily a GPS app with a few pre-downloaded trails set into it that also allows you to set pin locations.

What to Bring

  • You’re definitely going to want to bring comfortable hiking clothes.
  • At least one and a half liters of water per person
  • Extra snacks, maybe lunch. Plan for about 3 hours
  • Medical equipment: a knee brace, inhaler, satellite communication if you have life-threatening conditions (this trail is much less populated so don’t rely on the public to contact SAR for you)

Weather Concerns

In the winter, make sure you have yak-traks, spikes, or some sort of additional safety measure to your shoes. You might be cold when you start, hot while you hike, cold while you rest, then attacked by wind when you reach the top so instead of one big jacket, I suggest appropriate layers.

You are allowed to hike Observation Point in inclement weather, Zion National Park has an “adventure at your own risk” mindset so if this has been your dream for years and it’s raining, you’re allowed to hike. Just be careful, please. Keep in mind that you’re up high with no tree cover so we suggest you don’t hike if there is lightning.

My Favorite Memory from Observation Point

What are some of the craziest things we’ve seen on Observation Point?

I saw an incredible couple hike Observation Point at sunrise for a private elopement photography shoot. That was pretty crazy.


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