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The Watchman

The Watchman

The Watchman

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.18469°N / 112.97871°W

Object Title: The Watchman

Activities: Hiking, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Aid Climbing, Big Wall, Scrambling, Canyoneering

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 6555 ft / 1998 m


Page By: SawtoothSean

Created/Edited: Mar 27, 2006 / Nov 12, 2011

Object ID: 183914

Hits: 9972 

Page Score: 86.29%  - 22 Votes 

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Watchman Summit Looking west

The Watchman is one of Zion National Parks most recognized feature. It sits prominently above the South Entrance Park Headquarters, the Watchman Campground and the town of Springdale, Utah.  As part of a jagged ridge line that runs on the East side of the Zion Valley, it guards the southern portion of this ridge. The most famous and recognizable shot of this giant rock buttress is usually taken from the north near the Watchman Campground.  

Like many of the area's peaks, The Watchman contains several challenging free and aid climbs, along with one known scrambling route that requires careful route finding to avoid 5th class.  The technical climbs generally start on the west to north rock walls, as viewed from the Springdale area. The non-technical scramble ascends a northern portion of Johnson Mountain before descending to the base of the west face of The Watchman- a portion of the mountain hidden from roads views.  The true summit of the Watchman is several towers south of what appears to be the high point as viewed from the Zion Valley.  Views from the summit are tremendous and all encompassing and include nearby Mt. Kinesava, Johnson Mountain, Bridge Mountain, The West Temple, Towers of the Virgin, and the East Temple, to name just a few.  In fact, there are over 20 officially named peaks within 5 miles of The Watchman. This area is truly a climbers and hard scramblers paradise.



Watchman View from Park Entrance

  1. The West Face Scramble Route- Class 3-4 with route-finding challenges. One wrong slot leads you into Class 5 territory.  See Routes for more.
  2. S&M- 5.10+ IV, A0.  6 pitches of mostly free climbing (one small aid section) that ascends an off-width crack with finger tip moves. Starts on a tower just to the right of the highest point of the Watchman ridge as viewed from Springdale. Scramble up to the true summit and descend via the Scramble Route, or make 3 rappels from the notch.  First ascent by the Austins, 1984.
  3. The Vigil- 5.11 IV 10 pitches.  Highly recommended climb starts just to the left of S&M in a right facing dihedral that is 100 feet from a cleaner looking crack system near a white ramp.  A large talus boulder lies next to (left of) the start of the route. The pitches go at 5.8, 5.7, 5.10, 5.9, 5.11 (or A2), 5.11, 5.10, 5.8, 5.11, then 3rd class.  A large tree marks the top of the 4th pitch on Violation Ledge and is visible from the Springdale area. Continue 3rd-4th class to the true summit and use the scramble descent or take 4th-5th class on the northwest ridge, then rappel into the gulley.

Getting There


Lady Mountain NE Side

I-15 is the prominent highway running north-south through western Utah. Just north of St. George, or just south of Cedar City (southern Utah), follow prominent signage toward Zion National Park. The signage will ultimately lead you to highway 9 and through the town of Hurricane. Follow highway 9 north, passing through the town of La Verkin. The scenery becomes more dramatic as you approach the town of Springdale- a gateway town next to the south entrance to Zion National Park. Your options include parking in the town of Springdale or near the Watchman Campground. You'll need to cross the North Fork of the Virgin River for any of the climbs or scramble. Several bridges exist in the area to make it easy during high water.

Weather, Seasons, Conditions

Many of the southern summits of Zion (like Kinesava) can be climbed virtually year round. Be aware that snowstorms can occur during the winter and snow will linger on the north sides.  Strong late winter / early spring sun usually melts the west to south exposed sections.

Zion Valley Climate Data:
Jan Feb  Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Average Max. Temperature (F)  51.8 56.8 64.0 72.8 83.0 93.8 99.6 97.0 90.1 78.0 62.7 53.1 75.2
Average Min. Temperature (F) 29.0  32.7 37.0 43.6 52.2 61.3 68.6 67.2 60.3 49.3 36.9 30.0 47.3
Average Total Precipitation (in.) 1.67 1.86 1.89 1.17 0.79 0.47 0.99  1.42 1.06 1.06  1.25   1.35  14.99
Average Total SnowFall (in.) 3.4 1.7  1.0 0.1 0.0  0.0  0.0  0.0 0.0  0.1  0.6  2.0  8.9
Average Snow Depth (in.)  0 0 0  0 0 0  0  0  0

For current weather conditions and forecast at Springdale, UT click here

General Zion Valley Overview Map

Most scrambles and approaches involve some level of bush-whacking in Manzanita, Sage, juniper, and many types of cactus.  Expect many scratches and prickers on your trip.


WatchmanSummit View look down to Springdale

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-3 of 3    


Hasn't voted

Additional Watchman Beta (Pic's, GPS tracks and Map)
Posted Mar 30, 2006 7:30 pm
SawtoothSeanGood Stuff


Hasn't voted

Nice addition to the page- good to have the additional pics and map. The GPS waypoints would make it easy for those that don't want the route-finding hassles. Thanks.
Posted Mar 31, 2006 2:53 am
wschuellerAccess denied


Hasn't voted

Access update May 2017. The bridge over the Virgin River onto Canyon Springs Drive now has a posting "Private Property. No Trespassing". Even wading across the river during low water would still involve utilizing this private drive. Theoretically heading south from Watchman campground above the river bank might be feasible but this is steep, loose terrain.
Posted May 14, 2017 5:57 pm

Viewing: 1-3 of 3    


The Watchman from Johnson MountainDatura Flowers and The Watchman at Zion National ParkThe WatchmanThe WatchmanJohnson Mountain Summit RidgeJohnson Mountain from the Watchman ScrambleWest face
The WatchmanWatchman Scramble Upper PartsWatchmanSummit Looking northWatchman Summit Looking westWatchman Scramble Crux MovesThe Watchman and Johnson MtnFinal steps to summit of The Watchman
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