Zion National Park, Part 5: Observation Point

Our previous hike to Yant Flat had been incredibly amazing but Observation Point is in another class. It easily makes my top five favorite hikes of all time. The trail is on the opposite side of the main canyon in Zion from the world-famous Angel’s Landing and, while a popular and thus busy trail (like most trails in the main area of Zion), we were able to do it without seeing more than a couple people on our ascent by starting off early.

The trail is 8 miles round trip with 2,150 feet in elevation gain; we took a leisurely pace and got to the top in just over 2 hours, stopping to gape at the views and monumental size of the canyon as we ascended. It was cloudy and hazy when we set off switchbacking up the east side of the canyon and although the haze never entirely disappeared, we were blessed with plenty of sunshine once broke over the canyon walls. After the initial ascent, the trail turns away from the main canyon and crosses a fantastic slot canyon before another stretch of ascent into the ponderosa pines that provides fantastic views east across the Colorado Plateau. From there the trail turns back and switchbacks up to the canyon rim before the last stretch of about a half mile which leads out to Observation Point.

Every single stretch of this trail is incredible and fantastic and amazing but the final view down into the main canyon is unmatched by anything I’ve seen in my life. On a clearer day we would have been able to see farther, but I still felt like I could see the whole world from up there including Angel’s Landing below us and across the canyon a thousand feet below. I would try to describe all the amazing features of the hike – the towering sheer canyon walls, the majestic ponderosas, the fantastic shapes of the sandstone – but it would do it no justice, so I shall leave it to the photos.

Looking across the canyon near the trailhead of Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking across the canyon near the trailhead of Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking up while hiking up the switchbacks, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking up while hiking up the switchbacks, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Hiking up the switchbacks, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Hiking up the switchbacks, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking across the canyon from about 500 hundred feet up on Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking across the canyon from about 500 hundred feet up on Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking down on switchbacks, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking down on switchbacks, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Tom ahead of me on Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Tom ahead of me on Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Walking through a slot canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Walking through a slot canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

View from about halfway up Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

View from about halfway up Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

First view into the main canyon from near the top, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

First view into the main canyon from near the top, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Final ascent to canyon rim, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Final ascent to canyon rim, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking across the main canyon from Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking across the main canyon from Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking up canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Looking up canyon, Observation Point Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Approaching Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah

Approaching Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah

Tom and I at Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah

Tom and I at Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah

View from Observation Point with Angel's Landing about a thousand feet below, Zion National Park, Utah

View from Observation Point with Angel’s Landing about a thousand feet below, Zion National Park, Utah

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