» Explore Zion in 1 Day: The Narrows, Observation Point, Watchman Trail Gulsah Semiz
Explore Zion in 1 Day: The Narrows, Observation Point, Watchman Trail

If you are planning to spend one day in Zion, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

Explore Zion in 1 Day: The Narrows, Observation Point, Watchman Trail

We hit the road first thing in the morning, left our hotel around 7:30 am. When we arrived at the park after a 40 minutes’ drive, it didn’t take long to realize that we weren’t one of the early birds at all. When we entered the park, we were told that we would be lucky to find a parking spot. Indeed, we were. We parked at one of the last spots remained on the side road. Given the alternative option was to drive back to Springdale and try to find a paid parking spot there and take the shuttle to the park, we were thrilled by our luck.

Our plan for the day was:

  • Start with the Watchman Trail next to Visitor Center
  • End the trail at the Visitor Center and take the shuttle for the Narrows
  • Come back to the Visitor Center after the Narrows and take the car to the trailhead of Observation Point via East Mesa Trail
  • End the day around sunset at the Observation Point

There were few other trails we planned to visit for the day; however, we quickly realized that it wasn’t possible to squeeze more trails in our schedule as there are many things that cause delays or loose times when you are hiking. Remember, this was our first National Park experience, otherwise, we would have known that we should have spent at least two days in Zion to complete the other important trails in the park such as Angel’s Landing, Upper Emerald Pool, and Canyon Overlook Trail.

Watchman Trail

Watchman Trail

The trail is approx. 3 miles long and takes around 2 hours to complete. As we started the trail around 9ish in the morning, the uphill climb was almost not exposed to the sun at all. The climb is not that difficult and can be rated as Moderate. Since it was our first trail experience in a National Park, when we reached the top, we were quite happy with our accomplishment and with the view. In hindsight, after visiting many other parks and hiking so many beautiful trails, we wouldn’t have added this trail into our schedule if we knew it better.

The Narrows

The Narrows

It was around 11 am when we were ready to take the shuttle for the Narrows. However, the line for the shuttle was at least an hour long. So, we decided to walk to the 2nd stop which happens to be The Human History Museum. The walk was short, around 10 minutes, but it changed a lot for us as there was no line at all and we could take the first shuttle. Remember, they always leave some room for the visitors who wish to take the shuttle at the other stops, so it is worth to skip the line and walk. The shuttle takes around half an hour to arrive at the Narrows.
Before we started our trail, we wore our water shoes and socks, also took the water sticks with us. The equipment we rented was quite useful on the trail as the water was cold even though the temperature was above 100 F, and the rocks are quite slippery and sharp for regular shoes. The full trail length is just above 8.5 miles and takes almost 8 hours to complete. However, as two inexperienced hikers back then, we’ve decided to walk around 2 hours into the Narrows and turn back from there. The whole experience was quite unique compared to the many hiking trails. Even though it was a crowded, sunny Sunday afternoon, we highly enjoyed our time in the Narrows. If we ever have another chance to go back to Zion in the future, we’ll definitely complete the full trail.

Observation Point via East Mesa Trail

Observation Trail - Sunset

The Observation Point in Zion is one of the highest points where you could see the whole park from above. The trail hikers used to choose to reach the top was via the East Rim Trail from Weeping Rock. However, that trail has been closed for the long term due to a large rockfall. Hence, we chose to hike the alternative trail, via East Mesa Trail. Even though the trail is part of the Zion, the trailhead is located when you exit the park from the East Entrance. That’s why, it is always a good idea to leave the trail at the end of the day, maybe watching the sunset at the Observation Point, if feasible. To reach the trailhead, we needed to pass through The Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel, one of the oldest tunnels built in the United States. For many reasons including the tunnel, the 45 minutes’ drive to the trailhead is quite remarkable.
The trail itself is not a difficult one, almost 7 miles long in and out, and can be completed in 3 hours. The view is the best one in Zion, probably one of the best views among all national parks. Given it is not a difficult trail, it is a must-do if you ever visit Zion. The good thing about the trail, it is not crowded at all as the trail is not located in the main park.

Overall Experience

Zion was an amazing experience, even though it was the first national park we have ever visited. There are only a handful of national parks that can compete with Zion. It could be really crowded depending on when you visit the park, but it is totally worth it.

Gulsah Semiz
Gulsah is a data science consultant with over 6 years of cross-functional business experience. She holds a Master of Science degree in Marketing Analytics from Bentley University and enjoys playing with data to tell powerful and engaging stories.



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