East side of Zion National Park
East side of Zion National Park - Many hikers never leave the classic Zion Canyon trails to explore the hidden wonders of Zion's east side. The elevation at Zion's east entrance is 5700 feet, gaining almost 600 feet as the road winds from south to east. Mt. Carmel Junction, 12 miles past the parks east entrance is a mile high, offering cooler summer days. The elevation on the south side of the park is less than 4000 feet. and can reach over 110 degrees in the summer, but canyon walls provide shade making it enjoyable to hike in the summer. In the winter, however, the canyon trails are shaded by those same walls and as a result trails can be snowy and icy. In contrast, Zion's east side is at a higher elevation but most of the trails are in full sun which makes hiking in the summer uncomfortable, but during the cooler seasons the east side is wonderful to explore with its sunny paths and abundant evergreens. The east side of the park offers unique and impressive, yet un-crowded hiking routes, scenic drives and views while Zion Canyon is the target for almost all visitors to the park - making it crowded and touristy. Experienced hikers when asked report that the east-side of the park is, without a doubt, their favorite part of Zion. Everyone visiting should at least drive the 12-mile Zion-Mt. Camel Highway. From the south entrance, east - along the switchbacks and through the tunnel is an up-hill climb as the road suddenly gains elevation switch-backing and climbing up from lower Zion Canyon.
Zion's Roads and Tunnel
Canyon Overlook Trail - The enjoyable Canyon Overlook Trail is located on the east side of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. The hike is a one-mile round-trip with a 163 foot ascent that will take about one-hour to complete. The reward at the end is a magnificent view of lower Zion Canyon, the Beehives, Zion Switchbacks and Pine Creek Canyon. Charming stone steps mark the start of the hike, leading high above the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel and past a seepage area in a charming alcove. The water from the seepage supports one of Zion's many hanging gardens. The real beauty of this hike is that it offers a high elevation view without enduring the difficult uphill climbs to points like Angels Landing or Observation Point. Slickrock hoodoos are abundant on this hike, with a wonderful rock nest at the trails-end that serves as a perch to look down into the canyon.
East Rim - Zion's East Rim is often considered one of the "best hikes in Utah." This trail begins at the east entrance, just off the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, and ends in Zion Canyon. East Rim connects with the Observation Point Trail and then descends into Zion Canyon.
East Zion Hoodoos - Hoodoos are fairyland-like rock outcroppings of twisted and manipulated sandstone, sporting various shapes and sizes. The hoodoos in Zion are much different than the more uniform limestone hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. Hoodoos are abundant on the east side of Zion. There are several pull-outs along the Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy that offer good views of them without having to hike.
Choose your pleasure: easy hikes or difficult overnight backpacking trips; luxurious Zion National Park hotels, group lodging, campgrounds or camping in the backcountry wilderness of Zion's Kolob section.
Zion National Park, Utah
History of the Thunderbird
This is my new favorite quote:
"I don't know who Tanya Milligan is, but I mean www.zionnational-park.com
It's a better site than the NPS's anyway."
Written by the authors of the book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park