Riverside Walk Zion Book: Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park

Historically the trail was called Gateway to the Narrows, but now the popular name and the name the NPS advertises is Riverside Walk. This 2-mile round-trip stroll begins at the farthest end of Zion Canyon, in a natural amphitheater called the Temple of Sinawava.  The well-traveled path, host to approximately 3,000 people a day in the summer, ends where Navajo Sandstone walls close in and water is forced into the narrow walls of the world renowned Zion Narrows. If you are able, do not cheat yourself at this point. Step into the water and wade a bit up at the start, where its mostly shallow to see a bit of the magnificence of the Zion Narrows. Be warned that the water in the North Fork of the Virgin River is frigid in the winter and spring. Wear neoprene socks if you want to get your feet wet, but it's best to wait for the warmth of summer. Until the cement ends on the Riverside Walk, you can expect a casual ramble on a paved path with little change in elevation. The ease and beauty of this hike is the reason for its popularity and many young people do play and delight in the river at the end of the pavement on hot summer days. In the Narrows there are a few sections where log jams and boulders have formed deep pools, but most of the steam is shallower with large river rock mixed with sand making footing beneath the fast flowing stream unsure. Walking sticks are often used to steady hikers. The Riverside Walk's pavement is usually suitable for wheelchairs and strollers, but sand can accumulate on the path making it difficult to maneuver wheels on them at times. Begging squirrels, fat due to human feedings, are abundant along the path. Do not give into their attempts to garnish food from you. Besides the monetary fine for feeding them, know it is a danger to animals to be fed by humans and it makes them aggressive toward hikers, small children in particular. 

At a Glance
Photo Album:
Riverside Walk Pictures Zion's Rock Squirrel
Trail Map - Backcountry Map - Overview Map
Day Hike: Yes
Trail Distance: The hike is 2-miles for the round-trip but there is little elevation change and hiking is on a hard surface.
Average Hiking Time: 1.5-hours for the round-trip
Accessible Trail: Yes, this trail, Pa'rus Trail and Lower Emerald Pools Trails are all suitable for wheelchairs and strollers.
Trail Usage: This is one of the most popular paths in Zion being an easy stroll, but also an entrance and exit to the Zion Narrows and some of Zion's technical slot canyons.
Difficulty: Easy with little elevation change.
Sun Exposure: There is shade along most of the path provided by canyon walls, Fremont cottonwood, velvet ash and big tooth maples. This riparian pathway seems cool even in the hottest parts of a summer day.  
Permits: Not required.
Trail Conditions: This paved trail is well maintained, but the wind does carry sand to the path where it accumulates in spots making it temporarily difficult for wheelchair and strollers in spots.
Trailhead: Temple of Sinawava at the end of Zion Canyon.
Trailend: Same as trailhead. This is the last stop the Zion Canyon shuttle makes.
Trail Access: The best season to hike this trail is from March to October even though it is enjoyable most of the year. The trail can close at times in the winter due to icy conditions. Usually from April 1st until October 30th Zion Canyon is accessed via the shuttle. Private cars are allowed in Zion Canyon the rest of the year. Park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to ride the shuttle and get off at the last shuttle stop.
Off the Beaten Path: No, this is one of the most popular and easiest trails in the park.
Classic Zion Hike: Yes.
Elevation Gain: 57 feet
Restrooms: Yes, at the Temple of Sinawava.
Water Availability: Water bottles can be filled at the drinking fountain at the Temple of Sinawava.

Zion National Park Map Zion National Park Map Coral Pink Sand Dunes Map Zion National Park Lodging Cedar Breaks and Dixie National Forest Map Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon Map Grand Staircase-Escalante Map Riparian Habitat - Towering monoliths and North Fork of the Virgin River flowing enclose the walking path.  The narrow space enhances the sound of flowing water and lush vegetation helps to create a thriving riparian habitat. Trailside signs indicate both micro and riparian habitats. The strip of land between the monstrous cliffs and the Virgin River give life to a variety of plants and animals. The hanging gardens and desert swamps are small zones where conditions allow certain animals and plants to thrive such as the Zion Snail, an endemic creature to Zion's hanging gardens. There is also a charming pond where canyon tree frogs are often seen and heard. They make a loud trilling song that rings through the canyon. Notice the desert swamps, the hanging gardens and seepage areas. These microhabitats provide homes for the tiger salamander and many other interesting creatures and plants.

Directions to Zion National Park

From the North: Travel I-15 south, past Beaver. exit on Hwy 20. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A through Fredonia, Arizona and Kanab Utah. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Travel I-15 north. Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin. Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park. SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway. See restrictions for RV's

Zion National Park Maps
Zion's Riverside Walk Trail

The view at the end of the trail.


Lodging Zion National Park
Lodging Zion National ParkLodging and services are available on the gorgeous east side of Zion National Park, where guests are close to Zion National Park (12 miles), Bryce Canyon National Park (60 miles), Cedar Breaks National Monument (45 miles), Coral Pink Sand Dunes (12 miles), and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (85 miles). It's where city traffic is absent and the skies are bright and clean.


please link to meTrail History - The one-mile trail was listed on the National Register of historic places in 1987. As with most of Zion, fences and other man made material were created using local objects so that they blend in with the parks surroundings.  In 1968, I remember a huge rock slide occurring on the trail and it closed for a while as they created a new trail up over the slide rather than removing the fallen rock. .    

Zion Narrows - If you plan to continue past the Riverside Walk and into the Zion Narrows, a route where the North Fork of the Virgin River is the trail then be sure to check weather and flood conditions. Call the Zion Canyon Visitor Center or check the weather report posted at the visitor center. Flash floods often occur in early summer as snow melts and at the end of summer following Zion's monsoon season.

Beta: Coordinates and other trail and canyoneering information by Zion Park search and rescue veteran team member Bo Beck and author Tanya Milligan.

To post trip reports, offer corrections, updates, or for more information please visit the Zion National Park Forum

Suggested Gear: A sturdy pair of shoes are recommend to hike the trails in Zion National Park. Many quality shoes will help grip the rocks and prevent injury.


Web Southwest Parks


Zion National Park, Utah

History of the Thunderbird

Best Western
East Zion Lodge


Zion Park Lodging

Zion National Park Lodging

East Zion Lodge
Vacation House
Group Lodging
East Zion Golf
East Zion RV Park
Vacation Packages
Family Reunion
Bus Tours
Business Retreat

Mileage from
Mt. Carmel Jct.

Zion National Park 12
Bryce Canyon 60
Grand Canyon 85
Cedar Breaks 45
Grand Staircase 9
Dixie Forest 22
Sand Dunes 11
Coyote Butte 57
Red Canyon 47
Tuweep 90

Stay in the heart of the parks, Mount Carmel Junction, and visit the treasures of the Southwest and Utah.

Site Map
Site Map II
Site Map III

Zion Hiking
Zion Park Hiking
Zion Hiking Adv.

Zion Canyoneering
Kolob Hiking

Greater Zion Area

Canyon Overlook

Weeping Rock

Riverside Walk

Emerald Pools

Kayenta Trail

Grotto Trail

Pa'rus Trail


Sand Bench

Hidden Canyon

Observation Point

Angels Landing

East Rim

Zion Narrows

Peak Bagging

Kolob Hiking


Winter Hiking

Hiking to Water

Backpacking in Zion

Greater Zion Area

Hiking List

Hiking along SR-9

This is my new favorite quote:
"I don't know who Tanya Milligan is, but I mean
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

Zion History
Zion Landmarks
Zion Geology
Zion Geology II
Zion Geology III
Zion Fauna

Zion Rock Art

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
All rights reserved © Copyright Zion National-Park  dot com
Do not use text, photos or maps without permission © Zion National-Park dot com
Contact the Author Tanya Milligan with any errors