Many experts claim that Utah’s best scenic view is Observation Point at Zion National Park. This overlook stands you on the edge of a 2,200 foot precipice and offers a view across a major portion of the main canyon within Zion National Park, and far into the distance beyond the park boundaries. Zion National Park is 30 miles in length and 15 miles across at its widest point, and Observation Point, at an elevation of 6,521′ is likely the best place to capture the grandeur of this vast expanse.
Most visitors to Observation Point at Zion endure a challenging four mile climb and 2,148′ ascent, from the Weeping Rock area in the bottom of the canyon, but there is a better way.
From Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort’s property there is a park boundary trail-head that follows a more gentle rolling course across the Zion National Park plateau and through the forest to Observation Point. This 3.5 mile walk (each direction) winds through the forest bending slightly northwest and then back to the southwest toward the overlook. Approximately two miles into the hike, you’ll encounter views into a side canyon that are quite spectacular, but only serve to whet the appetite for what lies ahead.
In the last half of a mile, the course descends south to the canyon rim and then bends west before turning south again toward Observation Point at Zion. In the last 200 yards you’ll ride the edge of the rim and encounter views into the back of the main canyon toward the Narrows, but the real view then opens up at Observation Point as you exit the forest of scrub oak, pines, and high desert foliage.
Sandstone layers of white, grey, ochre, and various hues of red color the striations that break out before your view. To the left the canyon sweeps open in horseshoe fashion. To the south the Virgin River winds through the fins and buttresses that have been eroded over eons. To your right the main canyon cycles north and toward the narrows section of Zion Park.
Plan to spend some time on the rim just soaking in all the views, and unlike others that you may encounter, enjoy the fact that you didn’t have to hike from the valley to Observation Point.
The length of this hike from Zion Ponderosa is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes (each direction) for adults moving at a reasonable hiking pace. Adjust your expected time based on the ability of those in your hiking group.
Groups are limited to sizes of no more than 12 people on trails such as this within Zion National Park. Bring water, snacks, and appropriate other hiking supplies, and don’t forget your still and video cameras. Early morning is a good time to start on this hike so you can enjoy the softer light on the formations when photography is also best. Learn more about Zion National Park.