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Observation Point Zion Featured
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Zion National Park

Observation Point Zion (East Mesa Trail)

  • 7 miles - Moderate Effort
  • 3 Hours (Total)
  • 700 Total Feet of Climbing
  • Max Elevation of 6,800 feet
  • No Dogs Allowed

Observation Point offers marquee views of Zion Canyon, similar to what you might see from the rim of the Grand Canyon. And most people find this hike from the East Mesa Trail relatively easy and doable. The hike is in the east section of the park, away from the crowds. It's calm and relatively peaceful, meandering through pines and firs on the way to Observation Point. Parking can be challenging, but you also have a shuttle bus option; I'll explain it in the guide.

In this Guide:
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions for Observation Point From The East Mesa Trail
  • Parking for the East Mesa Trail
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations

Where is the East Mesa Trail?

Getting to the trailhead is the hardest part of the hike. First off, the trailhead is located outside the park's east entrance, so you'll have to drive about an hour from the Visitor Center to reach it. Next, the trailhead is down a section of dirt road. The dirt portion is usually passable; I've often seen low-clearance cars at the parking lot. If it's raining or snowy, though, you'll probably want to give the drive a skip unless you have 4x4. The main problem is that there are only 15 parking spots at the trailhead, and the area surrounding the trailhead is all private with a strict no-parking policy.

The trailhead address is:
E Mesa Trail, Springdale, UT 84767

On the way to the trailhead, you'll pass the Zion Ponderosa. This resort sometimes has a "stop: no hiker parking" sign just past the resort on the road to the trailhead to discourage hikers from driving to a full parking lot. It's not an official no trespassing sign; it's more of a way to avoid parking problems. If you are leaving early, you can safely ignore the warning. If you drive to the trailhead and the lot is full, drive back to the Ponderosa and take a shuttle.

Observation Point From The East Mesa Trail Directions 4
If you drive to the trailhead, most of the way past the Ponderosa is a standard dirt road.
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There are signs for Observation Point that might be different than your GPS. I'd follow the signs.
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If it's been raining, some sections of the road can be rutted and muddy.
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When you get to the parking lot, there are about 15 spots scattered around the fenced-in area.
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The land around the parking lot is all private, and no parking. If you can't find a parking spot, you must wait for one to open or drive back to the Ponderosa and take the shuttle.

Observation Point Hiker Shuttle

If you arrive at the trailhead for sunrise, you should be okay to get a parking spot. After that, it's a roll of the dice. Luckily the nearby Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort (hotel/motel/glamping) offers an affordable shuttle bus to and from the trailhead. They also provide a shuttle to the nearby Cable Mountain hike. Visit the website or call them for details.

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Whether you use the shuttle or not, you'll pass by the Zion Ponderosa Resort area to get to the trailhead. If you take the shuttle, check in at the main building.
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There is a hiker shuttle parking lot at the Zion Ponderosa.
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The trailhead parking lot has a small waiting area for the shuttle. Most people have cellular service here and are instructed to call the resort when they want a shuttle back.

Gear For the Hike

Although on the longer side for most beginners, there's nothing too tricky or technical about this hike. You can wear light hiking gear or fitness clothing here. Bring at least 1L of water for the hike. In the warmer months there can be pesky insects.

Gear That I Love Right Now

Nothing is sponsored or promoted, just the actual gear that I use.


Gear Inreach Mini 2
Garmin InReach Mini 2If you are out of cellphone range the Mini 2 will reliably allow you to hit SOS via satellite. You can also send non-emergency texts to just say that you're late, let friends and family follow along, and check the weather. You can see my review here.
Gear Topo Pursuit
Topo Pursuit 2The wide toe box means no blisters, an aggressive tread is great on the trail, it dries very quickly, and it has lots of cushion for long days. It combines everything I love about every other shoe into one.
Gear Epix Pro Up Ahead
Garmin Epix ProThese watches are pricey, but I use them 24/7 for sleep tracking, workouts, heart rate, and tracking my hike. It has preloaded hiking maps that help me navigate the trails and is a backup to my smartphone navigation. The Epix Pro has a great battery life, a screen similar to an Apple Watch Ultra, and works in harsh conditions when just using the buttons. See my review here.
Hikelite 26 Gear
Osprey Hikelite 26This updated version of the Hikelite 26 offers incredible value for the money. It's got a wide trampoline back, so your back doesn't get sweaty. It's under 2lbs, has deep side pockets, and is a great balance of what you need without what you don't.

Check out the complete list here. ( Updated May 2024)

Observation Point Trail Maps

Click Here To View

Use This Map:
View in CalTopo | PDF Map | GPX File

Elevation Profile

Observation Point From The East Mesa Trail Zion Elevation
This one-way elevation chart is a bit exaggerated, don't get scared. The beginning is a very gradual uphill. At about 2 miles in, you start to hike downhill toward Observation Point. The uphill section can get your heart rate up on the way back, but it's not too long.

3D Map

Observation Point From The East Mesa Trail Zion 3d Map
From the parking area, we hike through the wooded plateau toward the edge of Zion Canyon, where we find Observation Point. Along the way, there are some lovely views through the adjoining canyons.

Observation Point from Zion Canyon

Before August of 2019, it was possible to hike to Observation Point from Zion Canyon using the lower East Mesa / Weeping Rock Trail. Unfortunately, a massive rockfall (caught on video below), dumped 435,712 cubic feet of debris over that lower trail. A geological survey suggested more activity in the area, and the trail has been closed indefinitely. Today the easiest way to reach Observation Point is using the route described here.

Observation Point Hike Directions

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Go to the end of the parking area and pass through the fence.
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Follow the trail as it curves around to the left.
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And then there's a Zion NP trailhead info sign. Hike straight from here.
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There's not much to say about the first few miles except that they're a mellow walk through the pines and firs. Just follow the trail.
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At about 2 miles in, keep your eyes open for a trail to the right. There's a nice viewpoint to check out.
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There's a great view up into Mystery Canyon from the viewpoint. When you're done, head back and continue up the trail.
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The trail starts to go downhill and you have nice views left into Echo Canyon.
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And then the trail pops out on the other side, and to your right are views across Zion Canyon.
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At about 3.1 miles in you'll arrive at the (easy to miss) junction with the Observation Point spur trail on the right. Make the hard right.
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Here's the sign at that last junction.
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After about 0.25 miles you'll reach the Observation Point area.
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And here is your postcard-perfect viewpoint into Zion Canyon!
Observation Point From The East Mesa Trail Zion Views
Directly in front of you is Angel's Landing and below that, the Virgin River and road going through the park.
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And there are great views north into Zion Canyon.
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If you are into finding USGS markers, there's one on the cliff here.
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Once you're done enjoying the views, just turn around and return the same way that you hiked in.

Need More Info?

  • Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.
  • When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.

This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!). You can stay up to date with my new guides by following me on YouTube, Instagram, or by subscribing to my monthly newsletter.