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At Rising K Ranch, learn to commnicate with our horses on our beautiful Utah trails!

Located between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah!

Zion National Park

 Here in the southwersten portion of Utah lies some of the most beautiful country on God’s green earth. Some of it is seen by only very few people, accessible only by foot or by horseback and mules; and some of it is accessible even to small children with their families right in Zion National Park! Zion is a mystical place full of magnificently high ciffs, red slickrock canyons, natural arches, and flowing streams and river crossings. There is a great benefit to simply being in Zion, where, like other National Parks, you can soak in all the beauty of nature that has remained unchanged by mankind for thousands of years.



General Information about Zion National Park:

History of Zion National Park

    The Zion National Park area was first inhabited by the Anasazi and the Paiute Indians. On October 13, 1776, Catholic Padres Silvestre Velez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Dominguez became the first known whites to visit the area, passing by the place where the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center is today. The famous trapper Jedediah Smith also passed through the area in about 1825. 

    It was in the 1860's that the Mormons came in and really began to settle in the area. The very canyon floor of Zion was used for farming and grazing until, as an effort to protect the area, US President William Howard Taft designated the area a national monument. At this time it was called Mukuntuweap National Monument. It was not long before people realized that Mukuntuweap was rather difficult to pronounce and spell, and were worried that if folks could not pronounce a place, they might be less inclined to visit. Thus, effort was made to change the name to Zion, a biblical reference to Jersusalem and to the New Jerusalem, Heaven itself as well as a Mormon reference to the place closest to God. In 1919, Mukuntuweap National Monument was offically designated "Zion National Park" by President Woodrow Wilson. 

   Today, Zion National Park welcomes over four and a half million visitors every year!


The Wildlife of Zion National Park

   While visiting Zion National Park, you are very likely to see mule deer, bighorn sheep, squirrels, rabbits and many types of birds and lizards. However, you may very well get lucky and see, especially in more remote locations of the Zion National Park Area, foxes, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, badgers, racoons, ring-tailed cats, and if you go to the Kolob Canyon area of Zion National Park, you may see some giant California Condors which have been introduced to the area in an effort to save the species!

Weather in Zion National Park   

   Due to Southern Utah’s drastic elevation changes, from about 3,000 feet above sea level at St. George to over 10,000 feet above sea level at nearby Cedar Breaks National Monument, there is great diversity in weather conditions and activities. Anytime of the year can be a good time to visit Southern Utah, and anytime of the year can be a great time for hiking or horseback riding. However, the most common time for visitors to arrive in Zion National Park is March- October. 


Winter in Zion:

   Zion National Park remains open all winter long. In winter, you can expect Zion to be much less crowded than usual and you can expect hiking trails that require wading, such as “The Narrows” to be closed. You should also expect some of the local shops and restaurants to be closed for the winter, though more and more they are deciding to remain open all year long, as we do here at Rising K Ranch. Be sure to use common sense if you intend to do any hiking in the winter. Remember that the days are shorter and that the temperatures will drop suddenly as soon as the sun begins to go down. Be sure to take note of how icy a trail may be and do not hike cliffs if they are covered in ice (each year at least a few people die from falling in Zion.) Be sure to drive your vehicle safely on icy roads, taking the time it takes to avoid a wreck. All in all, however, Zion National Park remains a worthwhile destination all winter long and is much warmer than the higher National Parks and Monuments like Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks (though these are still beautiful to see in the winter even though you can’t hike them.)


Spring in Zion:

   Spring in Southern Utah is totally unpredictable. On any given Spring day in Zion you may see snow, rain, and freezing temperatures, or you may see clear blue skies with warmth, colorful wildflowers, and lots of sunshine, or you may see all the above in a single day (really.) In Spring, most of the narrow slot canyon trails are closed due to the run-off from melting snow in the higher mountains to the east and north. This melting snow run-off brings not only higher than usual water levels, but also may bring many tons of debris such as logs and boulders, making some water crossings impassable. Spring is a time of year when the Zion Canyon area, which is usually quite arid, is full of greenery and pools of water. The waterfalls flow fast and forcefully and the wild animals begin to fatten up after a long winter of sparse vegetation. In Spring, the ground in Southern Utah becomes incredibly muddy. Our soil, which is often a clay, becomes sticky and slippery so that you often gather several inches of mud underneath your boots in only a few steps, making each footstep extremely heavy, and even 4-wheel drive vehicles often get stuck in the Utah mud! Most of Zion National Park’s established hiking trails, however are steep enough and rocky enough that you will not encounter this wet Utah clay.


Summer in Zion:


   In summer, Zion will typically be well over 90 °F. It is the summer months in which Zion National Park receives most of her visitors and is the most crowded. From late July through August, the monsoon season occurs, frequently bringing large thunderstorms that seem to appear out of nowhere on a hot afternoon. These thunderstorms cause flash flooding and incredible lightning strikes with almost deafening clashes of thunder. During these thunderstorms, you will still likely be able to enjoy the outdoors as long as you have rain gear and are in a safe place from any flooding or lightning. Do make sure to avoid any high water crossings during a thunderstorm, either on foot or in a vehicle, as people are killed by flash flooding each year in the Zion Canyon area. Also keep in mind that many of Zion’s flash floods are caused, not by the rain that is occuring within the Park, but from storm many miles above the Park. While it may be sunny where you are, far away rain may still cause heavy flooding in a slot canyon where you may intend to hike, so be sure to check on all the conditions specific to your particular hiking trail before you go out.  If you are intending to hike and enjoy Zion’s trails in the summer, you would be very wise to begin your day’s adventures before sunup so as to avoid the crowds, the heat and the common thunderstorms.

Autumn in Zion:

   Fall is many peopl's favorite time of year in Zion National Park. The nights are cold enough that you enjoy and can truly appreciate the warmth of a campfire and the days are warm enough that you can usually spend you entire day outside without even wanting a jacket, especially if you are moving around a lot. Rain and snow are both quite uncommon from September through mid- October, making it the perfect time to go camping and even the fishing is great in the Fall in Utah! At higher elevations such as you find at Bryce Canyon or Cedar Breaks, the fall colors begin at late September, so if you are visiting Zion from late September through October, I recommend you take a few hours to head north and visit the Cedar Breaks area to see the red leaves of the maple, the golden leaves of the aspen and oak, and the green pine all blend together against the backdrop of Utah’s blue sky. In Zion, the fall colors begin much later, around mid-November, and are beautiful; but there simply are not as many trees in Zion as there are in the mountains such as those right here at Rising K Ranch or further to the east at Bryce Canyon. Fall is when the water levels are the lowest; but since the water is beginning to cool down you might want to check on renting some wet pants if you intend to hike “The Narrows” or any other river wading trails.

Zion National Park Hiking Trails


Zion Canyon


The most well-known portions of Zion National Park are the cliffs that surround Zion Canyon proper. It is Zion Canyon that receives the most visitors. Many of the trails within Zion Canyon are short and some are even paved. However, there are also some less traveled trails toward the East side of Zion Canyon for those looking to take a longer, more difficult backpacking trip. 



East Rim     

Description: East Rim is a Day Hike that take you from the East Entrance Trailhead until it intersects the Observation Point Trail.

Distance: 7.8 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 6,370 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The East Rim Trail Trailhead is located about 150 yards inside the East Entrance of Zion National Park just a short distance from Highway 9.

   The hike may be accomplished either in a single day or as an overnight trip if you sleep at either the top of the plateau or at the higher parts of Echo Canyon. Keep in mind that this trail ends at a junction with another trail called Observation Point. From this junction, you must descend an addition 3.6 miles before reaching the Zion Canyon Road near Weeping Rock.


East Mesa


   Description: Day Hike that offers another route to Observation Point.

   Distance: 3 Miles One Way

   Difficulty: Easy

   Highest Elevation: 6,810 Feet Above Sea Level

   Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


      The East Mesa Trail, which is also open to horseback riders, offers a shorter trail to Observation Point. It will take you through stands of Ponderosa Pine etc., and offers stunning views of the Pink Cliffs & Grey Cliffs of the Virgin Rim, Mystery Canyon with its White Cliffs, Echo Canyon, and The West Temple. The East Mesa trailhead is located only a few hundred yards away from Zion’s Eastern entrance. After hiking the East Mesa trail for 3 miles, the trail joins the Observation Point Trail only 0.2 miles away from its end point. From there, you may either hike out the way you came, or you may descend from Observation Point 8 miles down to the Weeping Rock area at Zion Canyon Road. If you do all that, it is about an eleven and a half mile trip and is rather strenuous.

Cable and Deertrap Mountains


   Description: A Day Hike from Zion National Park’s Eastern border to your choice of either Cable Mountain or the Deertrap Mountains.

   Distance: Dependent upon which of the many routes you take. 

   Difficulty: Moderate- Difficult

   Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Trailhead Locations for Cable Mountains are Weeping Rock & the East Entrance Ranger Station at the Eastern Boundary of Zion National Park.

   The Cable and Deertrap Mountains Trail may be reached either from Weeping Rock, which is the more strenuous route or from Zion’s Eastern Boundary, which is a more moderate, though longer in terms of miles, hike.

   Cable Mountain is named for the old structure that still stands on the top of the plateau. The structure is an old cable and timber frame which was part of a system used from 1904-1926 to haul timber down to the bottom of Zion Canyon. It is requested that all visitors refrain from touching or even getting too close to the old cable works both for safety’s sake as well as to preserve the aging, fragile structures. The most famous of the old Cableworks stands on the edge of a plateau that overlooks the Big Bend in the Virgin River far below. From this cableworks, you also get a great view of the Organ, Angel’s Landing, Cathedral Mountain, and Echo Canyon. 

   Deertrap Mountain, should you choose to go there, also offers views of Angel’s Landing, as well as views of The Mountain of the Sun, the Twin Brothers, the West Temple, The Beehives, The Court of the Patriarchs, the Temple of Sinawava (which is at the entrance of The Narrows), The Great White Throne, the East Temple, and the upper drainage point of Pine Creek.

   Both these locations offers views that most of Zion’s visitors will never see. These are views, not from the floor looking up; but from the high plateaus looking down and across!

Canyon Overlook


Description: A Short Hike to a Lookout Point viewing lower Zion Canyon

Distance: 0.5 Miles One Way

   Difficulty: Moderate

   Highest Elevation: 5,250 Feet Above Sea Level

   Dangers: High Cliffs

   Jurisdiction: Zion National Park   

   The Canyon Overlook Trailhead is located 5 miles east from the Zion Visitor Center down Highway 9. Just on the oeastern side of the first tunnel, you will see the Canyon Overlook Trailhead.


   The Canyon Overlook Trail is short; but it has views of The Great Arch, as well as views of the entire lower portion of Zion Canyon, including such prominent features as The East Temple, Bridge Mountain, The West Temple, The Towers of the Virgin, and The Streaked Wall. You will also see a variety of slickrock, overhangs and even hoodoos. If you bring some good binoculars or a spotting scope, there is a good chance that you will see Bighorn Sheep on the cliffs to the south. 

The Barracks


Description: Wilderness trail that heads from the East Fork of the Virgin River down through rocky canyons and out through a difficult, brushy, bushwacking hike on a faint trail.

Distance: 18.4 Miles

Difficulty: Difficult if you take Checkerboard Mesa.

Highest Elevation: 6,020 Feet Above Sea Level

Dangers: Flash Flood Possibilities & Rugged, Steep Terrain. The long distance may keep you overnight should anything unexpected occur.

Jurisdiction: BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Kanab Field Office; Zion National Park


   The Barracks trail takes you, not only into Zion National Park, but also into BLM land outside the Park. The Trailhead is located half a mile south of the small town of Mt. Carmel Junction. Drive south from Mt. Carmel Junction on Highway 89 until you turn onto a gravel road that heads west. There are several places to park there at the trailhead.


   The Barracks Trail takes you into the East Fork of the Virgin River, at times in chest-deep water. The Parunuweap Canyon is a much less visited area than much of Zion National Park and is well worth seeing if you enjoy more strenuous, brushy hiking trails. This hike is a true “wilderness” hike and special care should be taken to see that the wilderness aspect of this trail is preserved. Due to the high amount of wading this trail requires, it is extremely important that you do not go if there is any possibility of flash flooding or if the water levels are simply too high due to a larger than usual winter snowfall.

   The Barracks Trail offers experiences of slot canyons and views of Navajo Sandstone, Parunuweap Canyon, The White Cliffs, Bay Bill Canyon, Elephant Cove, Mineral Gulch, Rock Canyon, Poverty Wash, Misery Canyon, the beginning of Labyrinth Falls (which require mountaineering equipment) and Checkerboard Mesa. There is a plaque along the way commemorating the 1872 expedition of John Wesley Powell, who took a string of pack mules through Parunuweap Canyon over the course of two weeks. 

The Watchman


   Description: A short hike that takes you into the small hills that lie below The Watchman and Bridge Mountain.

Distance: 3 Miles Round Trip

Difficulty: Easy

Highest Elevation: 4,350 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Trailhead for The Watchman is located between the Zion National Park Visitor Center and the South Campground. This easy little hike is not one of the most famous viewpoints, nor does it take you high atop a plateau. However, like any trail in Zion, it does offer some great scenery and is often at least a little less crowded than the more popular trails like Angel’s Landing.

   Surrounded by sagebrush, juniper and pinyon pine, The Watchman Trail offers views of The Watchman, Bridge Mountain, The Towers of the Virgin, The Virgin River, and the town of Springdale towards the south, as well as many unnamed smaller cliffs ao abundant in Zion.

Sand Bench Loop


Description: Sand Bench Loop takes you through the dry, sandy country of lower Zion Canyon. Not recommended as a hiking trail at all- but is better done by horseback.

Distance: 3.4 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 4,710 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Sand Bench Loop Trailhead is located at the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint, about 2 miles up Zion Scenic Canyon Drive. Canyon Rides offers a guided nose-to-tail trail horseback and mostly muleback trail ride on the Sand Bench Loop from March-October and they are the best option (unless you bring your own horse) to experience this trail. The reasons you should avoid hiking this trail by foot are sixfold: 

1. The sand is deep and makes for heavy footsteps. 

2. The trail is completely exposed to the sun making it incredibly hot, especially due to the deep, hot sand.

3. About 30 horses are going to pass you at least twice on your hike.

4. The trail, being traversed by 30 horses twice a day, is littered with manure.

5. You must cross the Virgin River- not enough to really have fun wading in the water like you do in The Narrows; but just enough to get your hiking boots wet before walking on the deep, hot sand again.

6. There are much better viewpoints of Zion Canyon all over the Park anyway.

    If you do take the Sand Bench Loop either by foot or (hopefully) by horseback, these are the main points of interest you will see: The Court of the Patriarchs, The Streaked Wall, The Watchman, The East Temple, The Twin Brothers, and The Mountain of the Sun.

The West Bank of the Virgin River


  Description: A hike following the Virgin River on easy, level ground. Distance: 2.6 Miles One Way ending at The Grotto Trailhead.

Difficulty: Easy

Highest Elevation: 4,450 Feet Above Sea Level

Jursidiction: Zion National Park


   The West Bank of the Virgin River Trailhead is located at the Court of the Patriarchs viewpoint, 2.2 miles up Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The West Bank trail takes you on an easy stroll along the side of the Virgin River and offers views of much of Zion Canyon, including The Court of the Patriarchs, Mount Majestic, The Spearhead, Cathedral Mountain, the Emerald Pools and The Great White Throne.

Emerald Pools


Description: A spiderweb of trails that all lead, by various lengths and means, to Emerald Pools Lower, Middle and Upper Pools.

Distance: 1.2 Miles to 2.5 Miles Round Trip.

Difficulty: Easy (for the Lower and Middle Pools); Moderate (for the Upper Pool.)

Highest Elevation: 4,450 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Emerald Pools Trailhead is located on the west side of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive opposite the Zion Lodge. The Emerald Pools trail takes hikers along wide, easily traveled sidewalks (the Lower Pool is even accessible by wheelchair with a little assistance) to both the Lower and Middle Pools, while the trail to the Upper Pool is a little bit more demanding, with sandy ground and rocks. It is requested that visitors do not go into the Pools themselves in order to protect them from degradation. The Emerald Pools trails are some of the most high;y traveled trails in the park, so go very early if you don’t like crowds. Along with the Emerald Pools, this hiking trail also offers good views of Lady Mountain, The Spearhead, Mount Majestic, Red Arch Mountain, Deertrap Mountain, and The Great White Throne as well as a dense deciduous forest filled with Gambel Oak, maples, and box elder which becomes especially beautiful in late Autumn.

Angel’s Landing


Description: A steep ascent to the high cliffs of Angel’s Landing, climbing 1,600 feet.

Distance: 2.2 Miles One Way

Difficulty: Strenuous

Highest Elevation: 5,790 Feet Above Sea Level.

Dangers: High Cliffs. Some die almost each year (since 2017) by falling from Angel’s Landing.

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Angel’s Landing Trail begins at the Grotto trailhead, 0.6 miles from Zion Lodge on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Angel’s Landing trail is perfect for those who are not afraid of heights, though many do most of the trip and just skip the part with the most high cliff exposure. Angel’s Landing is one of Zion’s most famous and heavily visited trails, so if you want to beat the crowds at all, you must begin very early. Once you get past Scout Lookout the trail begins to cross sheer cliffs and has chains bolted into the rock for hikers to steady themselves as they go. This trail should certainly be avoided if icy or wet and small children should never be brought on the Angel’s Landing trail, as they may very well fall to their death. The Angel’s Landing trail offers views of Refrigerator Canyon and since Angel’s Landing lies right in the middle of the Big Bend, much of Zion Canyon lies before your eyes from the top. 


Observation Point


Description: A long hike that takes you from the Zion Canyon floor to the high overlook of Observation Point, climbing 2,200 feet.

Distance: 4 Miles One Way

Difficulty: Somewhat Strenuous

Highest Elevation: 6.507 Feet Above Sea Level

Dangers: High Cliffs

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Observation Point Trail begins at the Weeping Rock Trailhead at the 4.4 mile point on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Observation Point trail is a fairly long, steep climb that takes you from the Zion Canyon floor all the way up to one of the best overlook points of Zion Canyon. Along the trail, you will traverse sandy washes, steep switchbacks, slot canyons with sheer rock walls on either side, and great views of Echo Canyon, Cathedral Mountain, Cable Mountain (the Cableworks themselves can even be seen if you have good binoculars and know where to look), Angel’s Landing, The Organ, Red Arch Mountain, The Great White Throne, and The Navajo Sandstone Formation. The Red Arch Mountain is one of the most inspiring views from Observation Point. 

Hidden Canyon


Description: A turnoff from the Observation Point trail that takes you into Hidden Canyon, a narrow canyon that eventually dead ends at a high wall that should only be attempted by experienced rock climbers with proper rock climbing equipment.

Distance: 3 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   Hidden Canyon is a turnoff from the Observation Point trail and is well worth doing. Unfortunately, large landslides have forced a closure to the Hidden Canyon trail as of Fall 2019. Hidden Canyon will likely remain closed for quite some time.


The Narrows: Orderville Canyon


Description: A One-Way Day Trip that takes you through the lower portion of The Narrows

Distance: 3 Miles One Way

Highest Elevation: 4,700 Feet Above Sea Level

Dangers: Possibility of Flash Floods if precautions are not taken to make sure there are no rain storms occurring either above or within Zion National Park.

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park 

   The Orderville Canyon Trail begins at The Temple of Sinawava Trailhead at the end of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Orderville Canyon hike will have you wading in the waters of the North Fork of the Virgin River nearly the entire way as you behold the awesome cliff walls on either side of you. You will traverse slippery stones that are under the water so it is recommended that you bring a walking staff to help you hike the river. You will begin this hike at a paved trail at the Temple of Sinawava parking area and follow the river until you reach a waterfall that blocks the way and you turn around and go back the way you came in. Along the way, you will also see the entrance to Mystery Canyon, where a tiny waterfall comes down the east wall of the canyon. The Orderville Canyon Hike does not require a permit or climbing gear; but still offers amazing slot canyon experiences.

The Narrows: Top-Down Route

Description: A long day-hike or a backpack trip down the North Fork of the Virgin River through one of Zion’s most iconic areas, The Narrows.

Distance: 15.4 Miles

Difficulty: Somewhat Strenuous

Highest Elevation: 5,640 Feet Above Sea Level. This hike takes you down 1,200 feet.

Dangers: Possible Flash Floods; Cold Water in Spring and Fall

Permit: Required

Equipment: A Wading Staff is Extremely Important

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Narrows Trailhead is located at Chamberlain’s Ranch, a one and a half hour drive away from The Temple of Sinawava, where you will end you hike, so you will need to arrange for transportation.

 Chamberlain’s Ranch Directions:

1.Drive 2.5 miles east on Highway 9 from Zion’s Eastern Entrance

2.  Turn left on a paved road and continue 18 miles to a bridge that crosses the North Fork of the Virgin River. 

3. Turn left beyond the bridge and drive .25 miles to the gate of Chamberlain's Ranch.

4. Close the gate behind you and drive a half mile further and park just before the road crosses the river.

5. Begin your hike by crossing the river and following the road for about 3 miles and enter the river at the end of the road.

   The Narrows is one of Zion’s most famous hikes and may be accomplished in one long, 12 hour or so hike or may be taken at a more leisurely pace by acquiring a camping permit for one of the 12 camping sites so you can stay overnight. The Narrows  is a wading trail that offers views unlike anything else in the world! With its thousand foot walls on either side of you, at times showing only the slightest amount of sky overhead, you are sure to remember this trip for the rest of your life (unless an apple falls on your head.)


The Narrows: From the Bottom Up


   Hiking the Narrows from the Bottom up is a considerably easier way to see some of the main portions of The Narrows with no permit required. To see the Narrows in this fashion, simplt begin at The Temple of Sinawava, go into the Narrows and turn around when you wish to come back the way you came. Most who hike this route choose to make Orderville Canyon their turnaround point, making their hiking venture a 5 mile round trip. The only stipulations to hiking the Narrows from the bottom up are that visitors are not allowed to travel upstream into Orderville Canyon and they are not allowed to continue past Big Spring. It is also important that all visitors use the restroom at The Temple of Sinawava before they begin hiking since there is no restroom along the trail in The Narrows.

Deep Creek


Description: A backpacking trip that will take  at least two days. The trail follows a wilderness route down Deep Creek until it reaches the Virgin River and The Narrows. The hike drops almost 3,000 feet in elevation.

Distance: 14.2 Miles One Way

Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous

Dangers: Possible Flash Flooding and Possible Cold Waters

Highest Elevation: 7,900 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Kanab Field Office; Zion National Park


  Deep Creek Trailhead Location: The Deep Creek Trailhead is located in a rather remote location a good distance away from Zion National Park. You will need a driver, since this is a one way hike. To find the Deep Creek Trailhead, begin in Cedar City, Utah and follow these directions:

  1. From Cedar City, drive east on Highway 14 (The 14 is a beautiful mountain Highway.)

  2. After 15 Miles, turn right onto Webster Flat Road. Ignore the many side routes and trails and remain on the main road. 

  3. After about 4 miles, the road will leave Dixie National Forest and will place you on private land. Continue on main road.

  4. In 2.2 more miles, you will find a culvert over Fife Creek.

  5. This culvert over Fife Creek is the Trailhead.


The Deep Creek Trail is a hiking trail that few attempt. However, for those who know how to prepare, this hike will be an unforgettable experience. The Deep Creek Trail begins as a simple livestock trail that follows Fife Creek. Since this is private mountain property, be sure to be respectful to the land owners, by remaining on their land for as little time as reasonably possible and avoid damaging any fences and be sure to close any gates you open.

    The countryside at the beginning of the Deep Creek trail is beautiful, with plenty of green grass, quaking aspen, and a good amount of lava rock and lava boulders. Along the way here, you will find a nice, grassy vale that enters from the east (to your left.) It is at this point that you will cross the stream and climb over a log fence and follow the right side of Fife Creek. After about a quarter mile, you will turn west (to your right) into a dry wash where the path will lead you until you climb out of the wash and onto an old roadbed that will take you to the hillside above the Fife Creek Valley and drop down to a green meadow where Big Spring flows from the ground and into Fife Creek. It is at this streambank that the old roadbed will disappear and you will follow the stream downstream for about 75 yards and will again find the old roadbed. The road will then lead you through forests of spruce, quaking aspen and ponderosa pine. In about a half mile, there is a fork in the road where another roadbed heads downhill to the stream; but stay on the higher path for another 50 yards where you will find densely growing pine and manzanita (a favorite food source of elk.) It is at this point that you will follow an old trail to the left, which will take you down into the valley to the west of the stream. You will see, once you reach the stream, a well-beaten path on the far side of the stream; but do not follow it. Remain on the western side of the stream and follow the narrower trail. This narrower trail will continue, offering you views of small waterfalls and high rock walls like China Point and the Gray Cliffs of the Carmel Formation, the second stage of the Grand Staircase that eventually leads down to the Grand Canyon. The narrow trail will at times be difficult, with fallen trees across it in some places and plenty of thickly growing brush to push through at other places. 

   As you follow this trail downhill, the vegetation and forest type will change with the elevation. Rather than being surrounded by spruce and aspen, you will be amidst Douglas-Fir and more Ponderosa, which are both more suited to a warmer climate. You will eventually reach the cottonwoods where O'Neil Gulch allows the West Fork of Deep Creek to flow into the valley. It is at this meeting of the streams that the old trail ends and the going becomes more difficult.

   For the 1.5 mile trek between O’Neil Gulch and Big Oak Wash, you will have to choose between simply remaining in the stream, following it downstream, or following some of the many livestock and deer trails. If you choose to walk down the stream, you will need to be careful as you traverse many waterfalls, slippery rocks, rather technical crossings, and deep pools. If you choose to follow the livestock trails, you will need to push and crawl through thickly growing Gambel Oak in steep terrain. Either way, you will end up at the same point about half a mile downstream where tall banks are on either side, forcing you to follow the stream, with its continuing difficulties. 

   When you reach the area of the str4am just above Big Oak Was, you will find a larger waterfall which you will not be able to climb or jump down. You will scramble along the steep slopes to the sides. The going gets easier after this.

   Once you are at the bottom of the waterfall near Bog Oak Wash, you will be able to follow the sides of the stream rather than have to walk in it, offering a break from traversing the slippery cobblestones and tricky footing. Once you reach the point in Deep Creek where Crystal Creek flows in from the west, you will find quicksand to be more and more common, so you will need to make use of dry ground or rocks as you hike. Tall cliffs will rise on either side of you. About a mile past the Crystal Creek confluence, you will spot the first of the Navajo sandstone which you will see along the way to Zion Canyon. Here you will enter the Deep Creek Narrows, where the shade of the high, towering Navajo sandstone cliffs will provide you with a much cooler air and there will be plenty of bigtooth maple and Douglas-Fir. You will wind through this canyon until a slot canyon enters from your left and this marks a point where the traveling will again increase in difficulty as you will be unable to avoid wading through deep pools in Deep Creek. When you reach the area where Box Canyon enters from the left, the walls on either side of you will change from being totally vertical to more sloping for a time until they again close in at the point where Deep Creek itself flows into the North Fork of the Virgin River. From here, the river flows downstream into The Narrows of Zion Canyon and you will again find many other people hiking.

Zion National Park Hiking Trails: The Desert Lowlands


  The area of Zion National Park that lies to the southwestern corner is full of various cacti, yucca, and sagebrush and is much less frequently visited that Zion Canyon itself. Many of the trails in this Desert Lowlands area will be less traveled and perhaps even difficult to find at all. The views offered in this area are the many buttes and “Painted Desert” areas. In the winter and early spring, the clay ground in the area is often quite muddy and in the summer the area is quite hot, making late spring and especially Autumn the best seasons to visit the Desert Lowlands of Zion National Park.


Eagle Crags Trail


Description: The Eag;e Crags Trail is 3 miles one-way and takes you to the bottom of Eagle Crags in the Vermillion Cliffs,

Difficulty: Somewhat Strenuous

Highest Elevation: 5,000 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Kanab Field Office. 


   The trailhead for the Eagle Crags Trail is located on BLM land rather than actual National PArk land and is near the small town of Rockville, Utah. To find the Eagle Crags Trailhead from Zion National Park, follow these directions:

  1. Beginning at the south entrance of Zion National Park, drive west on Utah Highway 9 for about 5 miles. This will take you through Springdale and on into Rockville.

  2. Just after getting into Rockvilles, look for a left turn (towards the south) onto Bridge Road.

  3. Continue straight on Bridge Road as it soon becomes Eagle Crags Road, which is only a dirt road so make sure your vehicle has high enough clearance and that the road is in good enough condition to safely travel it.

  4. Follow Eagle Crags Road until you arrive at the Eagle Crags Trailhead.



   This hike, like many of the hikes in the Desert Lowlands area of Zion National Park, is best done when it is not too hot, since there are few trees and very little shade to be found. The Eagle Crags trail is rather strenuous since there are plenty of steep hills with rocky, uneven footing. The Eagle Crags Trail takes you to the foot of Eagle Crags and then climbs sharply uphill to grant a better view of them.

Chinle Trail


Description: The Chinle Trail takes you through Zion’s Desert Lowlands until you arrive at Coalpits Wash. 

Distance: 8.1 Miles one-way.

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 4,400 Feet Above Sea Level

Hazards: Gets extremely hot in the summer.

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Chinle Trailhead is located between Springdale, Utah and Rockville, Utah. To find the Chinle trailhead, follow these directions:

  1. Starting at the South Entrance of Zion National Park, drive 3.5 miles west on Utah Highway 9.

  2. After 3.5 miles, turn right onto Anasazi Way.

  3. After about 100 feet, turn right into the unmarked parking area which is the Chinle Trailhead.


   The Chinle Trail will take you through the Desert Lowlands, offering sweeping vistas of Mount Kinesava, the Three Marys, Eagle Crags, Huber Wash, the Petrified Forest Bench, Scoggins Wash, Cougar Mountain, and The Towers of the Virgin. The trail ends at Coalpits Wash above a beautiful waterfall that is just upstream from Coalpits Spring.

Chinle Trail: Shortcut from Chinle Trail to Upper Coalpits


Description: This is a shortcut trail that takes you from the Chinle Trail to Upper Coalpits Wash

Distance: 1.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 4,480 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   If you are already on The Chinle Trail (See above) then there is a route you can take for Upper Coalpits Wash. Once you reach Scoggins Wash on the Chinle Trail, look for the second large wash to the north (on your right.) You will follow this unnamed wash until you reach a point where it turns northeast, facing a large butte that protrudes from The Towers of the Virgin. This is the point at which you will leave the wash and continue traveling north through the desert between two hills, one hill to the west of you and the other hill to the east. Once you are passed both these small hills, turn west to follow a wash that is just north of the western hill. Follow this wash until you reach the flowing stream, which flows northward towards Cougar Mountain, Follow this stream until you reach some large boulders, over which you will have to climb or scramble and just on the other side of these boulders is Coalpits Wash.

Huber Wash


Description: A trail that follows Huber Wash through the desert in the southwestern Desert Lowlands area of Zion National Park.

Distance: 2.4 Miles One-Way

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 4,160 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The trailhead for Huber Wash is located between Rockville, Utah and Virgin, Utah. To reach the Huber Wash from the south entrance of Zion National Park, follow these directions:

1 Drive east on Utah Highway 9 for 6 miles.

2. Turn right (north) onto a pullout area which is about 100 yards east of the Huber Wash sign.

3. Park and begin your hike by going through the gate and closing it behind you as there are cattle in the area,


   The Huber Wash trail takes you through some of Zion’s less traveled painted desert countryside with its juniper, yucca and petrified wood. As in other places in Zion National Park, it is requested that you do not pick up pieces of petrified wood from within Park boundaries so that other visitors may have the same hiking experience as you for years to come. Along the Huber Wash trail, you will see great views of Cougar Mountain, a hanging garden, which is especially beautiful in Spring when plenty of water is flowing in the streams, The Towers of the Virgin, The Altar of Sacrifice, The Bishopric, oil well ruins from many years ago, and a few waterfalls.

Crater Hill to Upper Coalpits Wash


Description: A short trail that leads from Crater Hill to Coalpits Spring.

Distance: 2.1 Miles One-Way to the Coalpits Spring

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 4,400 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The trailhead for this short trail is located about a mile and a half to the east of Virgin, Utah. To find the Crater Hill Trailhead from the main Zion Visitor Center by Springdale, follow these directions:


  1. Drive west on Utah Highway 9 for 13.6 miles.

  2. Turn right onto a dirt road called Dalton Wash. This dirt road is rather rough and is best done with a high clearance vehicle. If it has recently snowed or rained, you will need 4-Wheel drive.

  3. Drive 1.7 Miles until you get to a fork in the road and take the left fork.

  4. Drive 2.8 miles to the parking area where you will also see a gate made for hikers.


   The Crater Hill trail drops you down about 300 feet , mostly through a dry wash. There are some areas of the trail that will require some climbing over boulders that are about 15 feet tall, and other areas where you will need to go through heavy brush. A fair amount of this hike is on private land so it is important to be generally respectful of the land, as you also should be regardless. The Crater Hill trail offers an alternative, less frequently used route to Coalpits Springs and The Chinle Trail. At the point where you intersect with the Chinle Trail, you have the option of either following the Chinle Trail up or down Coalpits Wash. At this intersection, Coalpits Spring, a 4 foot waterfall with plenty of cottonwood trees around it for shade, is only a few minutes away downstream.

Scoggins Wash


Description: The Scoggins Wash Trail takes you up Scoggins Wash through the Desert.

Distance: 5.3 Miles One-Way


Highest Elevation: 4,600 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The trailhead for the Scoggins Wash trail is located between Virgin and Rockville Ut. on Utah Highway 9 at Coalpits Wash. From the main Zion Visitor Center, simply drive west on Utah Highway 9 7.3 miles and turn right onto a dirt pullout with a sign for Coalpits Wash..


   This trail will take you through the painted desert of Zion’s Desert Lowlands. You will hike up Coalpits Wash until you reach its confluence with Scoggins Wash and follows Scoggins Wash uphill. This hike ends at a point in the Scoggins Wash where boulders block the way and the walls of the wash on either side are steep and have loose footing. Along this trail, you will have good views of Zion’s less frequently traveled painted desert, as well as views of Mount Kinesava, The Towers of the Virgin, Cougar Mountain, The Altar of Sacrifice, The Sundial and The West Temple. Like all of the trails in Zion National Park’s Desert Lowlands, the Scoggins Wash hike is best done in cooler weather- not in the middle of the summer, as it gets extremely hot and there is no water on the trail. It is also best not to hike the Desert Lowland trails when it is muddy from a recent heavy rain or snowfall as the mud in these areas is extremely heavy and makes each step difficult.

Zion National Park Hiking Trails:The Kolob Terrace


   Kolob Terrace in a less traveled region of Zion National Park than Zion Canyon itself. The Kolob Terrace is comprised of the high plateau west of Zion Canyon. In The Kolob Terrace, ost of the hiking trails are less defined, there aer fewer people around and amenities are farther away. The closest town to the Kolob Terrace is Virgin, Ut, which offers very little by way of either grocery or supply so get all your gear and supplies on your way at St. George, Hurricane, if you like to pay high prices for no reason, Springdale. Many of the Kolob Terrace trails close in the winter from November-April due to heavy snows.


The Right Fork


Description: A long day hike that takes you up the canyon of The Right Fork stream to Barrier Falls.

Length: 5.9 Miles

Difficulty: Somewhat Strenuous

Highest Elevation: 5,090 Feet Above Sea Level

Hazards: Possible Flash Flooding

Recommended: Bring a staff for walking in the stream.

Jursidiction: Zion National Park


   The trailhead for The Right Fork is found by following these directions:

  1. From the small Utah town of Virgin, drive up Kolob Terrace Road 6.5 Miles to get to The Zion National Park boundary.

  2. 0.4 Miles past the Zion National Park Boundary, a small parking area may be found, which is the trailhead of The Right Fork.


   The Right Fork hike is a lesser used trail that takes you into Zion’s backcountry, with steep cliffs, buttes, and canyons all around. Towards the end of this hike are some beautiful waterfalls.


   Beginning at the trailhead, you will head down a well-worn path to a rim of lava rock that forms a cliff, and follow a steep, rather slippery path downwards to the floor of the canyon. At the bottom, you will follow up North Creek until you arrive at the place where the two streams, The Left Fork and The Right Fork, meet. You will see just ahead of you The South Guardian Angel and you will follow The Right Fork upstream, passing low sandstone walls. 

   At the end of this small canyon you will be presented with a wide valley containing large buttes on either side.  Trail Canyon, a dry wash trail, enters this valley near the middle and just above the area where the dry wash meets Right Fork, there are some old corrals. 

   Once the valley narrows again, you will find a canyon that enters from your left. Follow this canyon in the stream upward until you again meet a confluence where two similarly-sized streams converge. Follow the stream to your left between two walls that almost form a ceiling above you and wade through a deep pool to continue upstream.

   Once you get above this area, you will find many miniature waterfalls  with high walls of sandstone on either side of you. From here you will have an easy walk all the way to a double waterfall that is sometimes referred to as Twin Falls. You will be able to walk behind the waterfall at this point, since there is a rather large overhang that makes for a beautiful place to see the waterfall from behind it. After this, however, you will need to do some scrambling over brush and steep slopes and fallen rocks and many small waterfalls and boulders until you reach Barrier Falls. You will know Barrier Falls by its natural amphitheater which lies betwixt two large cliffs. Without a high level of experience and plenty of good climbing gear, you will not be able to proceed beyond Barrier Falls.

Wildcat Canyon Connector


Description: The Wildcat Canyon Connector Trail is a day hike that takes you from the Hop Valley Trailhead to Lava Point.

Distance: 8.7 Miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Highest Elevation: 7,720 Feet Above Sea Level

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The Trailhead for Wildcat Canyon Connector may be found by following these directions:


  1. From Virgin, Utah, follow Kolob Terrace Road 13 Miles.

  2. Park at Hop Valley Trailhead. This trail will pass the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and will end up at the Lava Point Trailhead.


   This trail runs across the mountain country that lies between the Hop Valley Trailhead and Lava Point, connecting the West Rim Trail with the Hop Valley Trail. Along this route lies a plethora of unmarked canyons with their trails and scenery. Perhaps the most prominent landmark of this particular hike is The Northgate Peaks.


   Beginning at the Hop Valley Trailhead, you will head northward to a junction and turn east to follow an old road. When you cross Kolob Terrace Road, you will have an excellent view of Red Butte, Gregory Butte, Timber Top Mountain as well as several other prominent hills such as Spendlove Knoll and Firepit Knoll. A long time ago, the entire area was full of volcanic activity, as is evidenced by the cinder cones that make up both Spendlove Knoll and Firepit Knoll.


   The trail will cross the Kolob Terrace Road and enter Lee Valley. From here, you will  see some amazing views of Pine Valley Peak, the Northgate Peaks, North Guardian Angel, South Guardian Angel, the Altar of Sacrifice and West Templed. You will eventually cross a dirt road and follow some old cedar posts where the trail is less pronounced and you will cross a fair amount of smalls draws followed by your arrival at Pine Springs Wash, a usually dry wash full of Navajo sandstone and black  volcanic boulders. After the trail crosses Pine Valley Wash, you will wind your way around a ridge full of small hoodoos and ascend slickrock, where your trail is marked only by the cairns (purposefully built rock piles) that lie along the way. Once you reach the top of this slope, you will walk across the hillside until you reach a small saddle of an area that lies behind Pine Valley Peak where you will have an extremely clear observation point for North Guardian Angel.

   Once you are close to the Northgate Peaks Trail Junction, you will see, to the north, Pocket Mesa, which is a series of whire cliffs. In order to reach the pothole seep that lies below Pocket Mesa, you must turn left at the first trail junction and continue on to a sandy wash. Follow the sandy wash upstream and turn right at the fork in the wash. This will take you to water at the eastern side of Pocket Mesa.

   If you wish to go to Lava Point, however, you should continue straight through both trail junctions. The Wildcat Connector Trail will guide you upwards through the forest until a view of Russell Gulch opens up to you with its white cliffs. The trail will head up through Russell Gulch. Following this trail, you will soon have grand views of Zion before heading east into a meadow and then north through the forest and into the waters of Wildcat Canyon. In the fall, especially in October, this area is full of fall colors from the oak, maple and quaking aspen. 

   From here, the trail will descend around Wildcat Canyon and pass a spring that flows through the lava rocks and dense vegetation. The trail then heads across the wash and takes you to the far side of the canyon and follows a draw to the top of Horse Pasture Plateau. From Horse Pasture Plateau, you will follow the trail to an area just before the West Rim Trail where there is an old grain drill. From this old grain drill, you can clearly see Lava Point. Once you do reach the West Rim Trail, simply turn left onto it and continue a tenth of a mile for a final climb which takes you to Lava Point. 

Northgate Peaks


Description: The Northgate Peaks Trail is a one way hike that takes you to a viewpoint between the Northgate Peaks.

Distance: 2.2 Miles one way.

Difficulty: Easy 

Highest Elevation: 6,990 Feet Above Sea Level.

Jurisdiction: Zion National Park


   The trailhead for Northgate Peaks is located about 15.5 miles up Kolob Terrace Road at Wildcat Canyon Trailhead. Park at the Wildcat Canyon trailhead and follow the Wildcat Canyon Trail for about a mile where you will turn left to continue following the Wildcat Canyon trail as it heads towards Lava Point. After another tenth of a mile, you will find a sign that directs you to the Northgate Peaks Trail which breaks off southward. Follow the Northgate Peaks Trail to a place about a quarter mile ahead where there is another fork in the trail. From here, you can either turn towards Russell Gulch or you can continue on the main trail. You should continue on the main trail straight ahead and you will find yourself in an area filled with lava rock that offers a stunning view of the Northgate Peaks and of North Guardian Angel.

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    Rising K Ranch is a Horseback Trail Ride and Riding School in Utah, located perfectly between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

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