2. Observation Point – Zion National Park
Distance: 8 miles out and back
Another great national park for those who love to hike. Zion National Park has hiking trails for every age and all abilities. From short hikes perfect for families with young kids, to mid-length day hikes and longer overnight treks into the back-country — this park is the perfect place to visit if you like to explore on foot.
During our visit to Zion in the spring of 2013 we decided to jump in feet first with a challenging hike up to Observation Point.
Topping out at 6,508 feet, the Observation Point hike is a steep 8-mile round trip climb that gains a heart-pounding, thigh-burning 2,100 feet in elevation.
The trail starts off strong with a section of switchbacks that climb steadily up the side of the canyon.
After roughly a mile of uphill, the grade levels off and you enter the cool respite of Echo Canyon.
The trail soon leaves the canyon and begins a steady ascent up and around the back side of the mountain.
The final section of the trail puts your fears to the test on another series of switchbacks that cut across the face of a cliff high above the canyon below.
The hard-packed trail was blasted into the white rock wall, and while it is wide enough for two people to pass, the drop off over the edge is straight down.
At the top of the switchbacks, the trail reaches the rim and levels off. Follow the flat sandy trail across the mesa to the summit for some well deserved rest while you take in the incredible view of Zion Canyon below.