This Zion National Park Hike Is As Striking As The Narrows Without The Crowds

Zion National Park offers visitors some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States. Located in Utah, close to the border of Arizona and Nevada, the park features an incredible canyon over 2,000 feet deep. It's easy to reach from other popular tourist destinations like Las Vegas, which is just over a two-hour drive away, and the Grand Canyon, which is slightly less than three hours away. The expansive park encompasses nearly 150,000 acres and was first established in 1919. Since then, it's become one of the most popular national parks in the country. In 2023, it was the third most visited national park in America.

Each year, millions of travelers from around the world flock to Zion to experience the rugged natural beauty of the desert ecosystem with its vibrant red sandstone and epic rock formations. In 2022, Zion attracted more than 4.5 million visitors, which has led to an overcrowding problem. Conservationists fear all the tourism may negatively impact the park. Some of the most popular hikes are becoming extremely overcrowded during peak season, which, depending on who you ask, can dampen the experience. The Narrows is also popular, but crowds can be a deterrent, and the beautiful canyon hike constantly closes due to unsafe flooding, which has led to injury and death for some hikers. If you're looking to avoid crowds, consider hiking Taylor Creek instead, which offers comparable natural beauty without the hordes of other tourists.

Hiking Taylor Creek

If you plan a trip to Zion and hope to find some hidden gem hikes, you'll love The Taylor Creek hike. It also makes an excellent alternative if you arrive to find The Narrows closed due to flooding or want a shorter option than the 16-mile Narrows hike. The towering red sandstone cliffs are one of the park's most incredible natural features and one of the top reasons to visit Zion National Park.  Hiking Taylor Creek offers visitors some of the very best views.

The Taylor Creek Trail, also called the Middle Fork Taylor Creek Trail, is located in the Kolob Canyon area in the northwest part of Zion National Park. The area includes a lot of wilderness, and the Taylor Creek Trail is one of the few official trails in that part of the park, so it's often less busy. The 5-mile out-and-back hike takes you through a box canyon that gets progressively more narrow.

The hike is located in the Kolob Canyon area in the northwest part of Zion National Park. It's called the Taylor Creek Trail and the Middle Fork Taylor Creek Trail. The hike is moderately difficult and takes about two hours to complete depending on your speed. Along the way, you'll get to see some historic log cabins amongst the beautiful views, and the hike ends at a rock formation called Double Arch Alcove.

Planning your perfect trip to Zion

If you're up for an adventure, you can apply for a permit to camp in the Kolob Canyon area. It will require hiking in with all of your gear, but it offers an unparalleled experience within Zion National Park for those who want to get up close and personal with nature and have the beauty of the park all to themselves. If you're interested in overnight trips in Zion, apply for a Wilderness Permit on the National Park Service website beforehand.

If you're more interested in day-hiking, you can choose from various accommodation options. You can choose between camping, glamping, private vacation rentals, and hotels. Zion National Park has three official campgrounds. Watchman Campground is located within the park near the visitor center. It's a popular option, so make sure to book your campsite reservations well in advance on the National Park Service website. There are sites for RV and tent camping with electrical hookups.

Zion Wildflower Resort offers beautiful glamping rentals and cabins, plus amenities like an on-site pool. Prices start at around $150 per night. The resort is a 30-minute drive from the Taylor Creek Trailhead. If you want to stay closer, some private vacation rentals are in the area. The ideal time to visit Zion National Park is in the spring or fall for the best temperatures. Summer can be very hot, and the park is often crowded during the high season, which runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.