One of my favorite views over the canyon, Observation Point is a beautiful spot to look down on not just the canyon but also get some great views looking towards Angel’s Landing as well. The trail is an easier moderate trail among the trails of the park which much of it well marked and ambling. There is some elevation gain but it comes gradually.
So if you are interested read along to see if it’s the right trail for you.
About the Hike
Distance: 7 miles | Type: Out & Back | Avg. Time: 2.5 -3 hours | Difficulty: Moderate | Dog Friendly: No
Observation Point is one of the best views over Zion Canyon you can explore among the various viewpoints. As with some of the others, it does take some work to get out.
The trail is moderate, mostly for the length. Overall it’s really not too bad in terms of difficulty, with much of the pretty steady. The early portion of the trail does rise, however the gain is pretty overall consistent as you go.
You’ll gain about 300 feet of elevation on your way to the point before descending towards Observation Point. From here you’ll have a beautiful view over the canyon with views over Angel’s Landing and other parts of the canyon below. The trail returns to the trailhead along the same trail you came.
For views of observation point, this way via East Mesa is the current main way to visit the point. The trail from the canyon floor has been closed indefinitely due to a rockslide.
Also dogs are not allowed on the trail.
Observation Point (via East Mesa) Trailhead & Parking
The trailhead for Observation point is located down Twin Knolls Road beyond the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. We recommend using this mark as a point for your google maps/GPS device.
The road can be pretty rutted, in particular after a storm. Just be sure you have a car capable of the drive and try to figure out the best way to orient your car along the rutted area to the trailhead. There is a parking area at the trailhead with several spots. It’s not large but it wasn’t full going or coming from the trail.
The alternative to driving to the trailhead is the shuttle from Zion Ponderosa Ranch. The ranch is located before the road down the trailhead and offers regular shuttles from the parking at the ranch to the trailhead.
The shuttle can be booked here at East Zion Adventures, for $7 per person. You pick your outbound shuttle time when booking and then take any return shuttle after your hike.
Best Time to Do the Hike
This hike is best done from late spring to late fall.
This is when the weather is the best, services at the park at the highest, and access to the site the easiest. Spring can bring some issues with spring thaw and rain. The road condition is very dependent on the weather.
Summers can be incredibly hot in the area. However, you’ll have long days, and generally hot but sunny weather. The other issue is that crowds do tend to be higher this season but you can also avoid parking issues by taking the shuttle above.
Fall is my favorite season in this park and especially with fall colors as well. October is the best month in my opinion with fall colors and generally after the summer monsoon season. Additionally, the weather is still very warm but not uncomfortably so.
Winters in this part of the park can be difficult. Services are lower and weather, ice, and snow can make it difficult to reach the trail. The road is somewhat maintained as there are private homes along the area as well, however, don’t expect it to be easily accessible.
The Observation Point (via East Mesa) Hike
The hike begins from the trailhead at the end of Rocky road in the East Zion area. This parking area is a dirt lot with a few spots tucked away in the edges of the end of the road here.
At the far end of the parking lot is the trailhead. We noticed a wooden fence here as well (I don’t know if it’s always there though). You’ll see a small wooden sign pointing to the trail. And then further from it the trailhead sign you always see at trailheads.
The trail here is slightly rocky but mostly more of a road then some of the other trails in the park. It’s pretty smooth and gradually ascends. You’ll get about a full 300 or so feet of elevation gain along the path to Observation point.
The trail isn’t that exciting. If you want there are quite a few places you can take small spurs from the trail to get some views over the canyon. Some are definitely better than others!
Overall the trail is really easy to follow. There was a point about 2.3 ish miles where the trail does seem to split. We saw a few people make this mistake. Just stay to the right here when you can.
The only other main point you’ll come to is about 3.2 miles into the trail. You’ll see a split in the trail. Just follow the sign to Observation Point.
From here just keep on the trail. It gets rockier at points but nothing difficult.
At about 3.5 miles you’ll reach your destination. Observation Point. The views here when the weather is good are pretty spectacular as you can see from the photo below.
Tips & FAQs
- Consider taking the Ponderosa shuttle. Especially if you are not sure on how your car will handle the road. Overall though honestly, it also helps a lot with the limited parking too and quite reasonable.
- Bring a few liters of water, sunscreen, and decent shoes. You don’t need hiking boots or shoes for this trail though so anything overall is fine.
- Consider going early. It’s generally the best time to avoid traffic getting into the park (if you have to go from Springdale), and the weather is generally cooler. It also gives you the most options for return shuttles.
- The trail has a branch that normally connects to the Zion Canyon floor. However, the trail has been closed “indefinitely” due to a rockslide.
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