West Rim Trail

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.38148°N / 113.023°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Hike
Sign the Climber's Log


With a length of 14.9 miles, West Rim is the longest and arguably the most scenic established hiking trail in Zion National Park. The trail starts in the cool forested northern highlands of the park and heads south on top of Horse Pasture Plateau providing the hiker with spectacular views of slick rock mountains and canyons. Near its southern end, the trail begins a 3000 ft vertical drop to end at The Grottos Trailhead in Zion Canyon.

One way day hikes, are usually done from north to south. You can pay one of the commercial tour operators in Springdale, Utah to drop you off at the northern trailhead. Designated campsites along the length of the trail (that require advanced reservation), make it possible to hike West Rim as an overnight trip or as part of a multi-day trans-Zion backpacking trip (From Lees Pass Trailhead to Route 9 near the eastern entrance to the park).

West Rim TrailMap

Getting There

Directions to the southern trailhead:
The Grottos Trailhead is located on the main park road 3.2 miles north of the town of Springdale. April through October, private cars are not allowed on the main park road (Zion Canyon Road). You must park at the designated areas and take the park shuttle during these times.

Directions to the northern trailhead:
From the southern entrance of Zion National Park in Springdale, UT drive 13.5 mile west on Route 9 to the town of Virgin. Turn north onto Kolob Reservoir Road. Drive this narrow paved road 21 miles until you see the sign for turnoff to West Rim Trailhead on the right side of the road. Turn right and drive the well graded dirt road one mile to a split. Right goes to Lava Point Campground and left to West Rim. The sign said road may be impassable when wet. I did not want to chance it and started my hike at the split. The road continued another 1.4 miles to reach the trailhead. The surface of the road was not rough but it had somewhat steep sections.
Depending on the amount of snowfall, the upper parts of Kolob Reservoir Road will be closed October through April. Please contact the park.

Lava PointLava Point
The road to West Rim s northern trailheadRoad
Near northern Trailhead, on the roadChurch Mesa

Route Description

All distances are per my GPS.
Hiking from north to south will get you a net elevation loss of 3200 ft but beware that you still have to deal with short sections of uphill. My GPS measured a total vertical uphill of 1300 ft.

Northern Trailhead
7460 ft
zero miles
Start of Descent into Potato Hollow
7240 ft
4.10 miles
Bottom of Potato Hollow
6775 ft
1.10 miles
High Point
7240 ft
Low Point
7015 ft
1st Jct with Telephone Pole Canyon Trail
7285 ft
1.55 miles
High Point
7375 ft
2nd Jct with Telephone Pole Canyon Trail
6740 ft
3.25 miles
Low Point
5520 ft
High Point
5860 ft
Jct with Angel’s Landing Trail
5450 ft
2.80 miles
Southern Trailhead (The Grottos)
4250 ft
2.10 miles
14.90 miles

Follow the trail south over the top of Horse Pasture Plateau. After only 0.1 miles, you will go by the junction of Wildcat Canyon Trail on the right. The plateau is covered by beautiful tall pine trees. You can look back to see the cliffs of Lava Point.

The beautiful tall pine trees
Looking back north at Lava PointLava Point
Near the northern trailhead
Looking southeast

At this point you will only have glimpses of the dramatic sites that will come to view later.

A glimpse of Wildcat CanyonWildcat Canyon
Church Mesa?Church Mesa
Greatheart MesaGreatheart Mesa

The trail will soon take you to the edge of a branch of Wildcat Canyon where you will have great views of South Guardian Angel.

South Guardian AngelSouth Guardian Angel

You will quickly go away from the edge of the canyon and continue south over the plateau. Tall pine trees gradually go away. After 4.1 miles, the trail begins to descend into Potato Hollow.

Descending into Potato Hollow
Potato Hollow
Potato Hollow

At the bottom of Potato Hallow you are down to an elevation of 6775 ft. The trail then begins to go up a hill to reach a 7240 ft high point.

Bottom of Potato HollowBottom of Potato Hollow
Climbing out of Potato HollowClimbing out of Potato Hollow

You will now have great views of slick rock mountains and canyons to the west.

Ivins MountainInclined Temple & Ivins Mountain

Points 7008 ft & 6920 ftPoints 7008 ft & 6920 ft

Looking W/NWGreatheart Mesa

South Guardian AngelSouth Guardian Angel & Point 6920 ft

After another short downhill and uphill, you will reach the first junction with Telephone Canyon Trail on the left (going on Telephone Canyon Trail will make the hike 1.4 miles shorter). Continue right on West Rim Trail. For the next few miles, the trail will follow the edge of a plateau that is covered by mostly bushes.

Vegetation on top of the mesaSurface of Mesa

The views to the west are most spectacular.

Greatheart MesaGreatheart Mesa

Ivins Mountain, Right ForkIvins Mountain & Right Fork Canyon

Inclined TempleInclined Temple & Church Mesa

South Guardian AngelSouth Guardian Angel

Point 6755 ftPoint 6755 ft

The trail then reaches the south end of the plateau. It turns east and begins to descend.

Looking SouthLooking South

Mountain of the Sun?Mountain of the Sun & Behunin Canyon

You will then reach the second junction with Telephone Canyon Trail and continue to descend.

Point 6955 ft (Mt. Majestic)
Looking west

The trail then appears as a path dug into a wall making a few switchbacks going down the wall.

Switchbacks carved into the wallSwitchbacks
Switchbacks carved into the wallSwitchbacks
Switchbacks carved into the wallSwitchbacks

At the bottom of the switchbacks, you will be in a branch of Telephone Canyon.

Bottom of the canyonBottom of switchbacks

You will now look up to see slick-rock mountains rising up above you.

In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic

In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic

In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic

In the canyon north of Mt. Majestic

The trail crosses a small side canyon over a bridge and then begins a 350 ft vertical climb.

North of Cathedral Mountain
North of Cathedral Mountain

After the high point, you will start to get views of Zion Canyon.

First views of Zion Canyon
From high point north of junction with Angels Landing Trail

The trail begins its final descent. At an edge, you can look straight down to see Virgin River and the park’s main road at the bottom of Zion Canyon.

Virgin River & Zion Canyon
Virgin River & Zion Canyon
Virgin River & Zion Canyon

The mountain known as Angels Landing will now be in full view.

Angels LandingAngels Landing

You will then reach the junction with the 0.4 mile long spur trail to Angels Landing. If you have time and energy, you could bag this mountain but beware that the trail has some exposed sections (see Angels Landing Page).

The trails becomes paved and, in summer, you are likely to see many people on the trail after this. You will go down a series of switchbacks.

Switchbacks below the junction with Angels Landing TrailSwitchbacks
Descending into Refrigerator CanyonFrom switchbacks

And will then hike at the bottom of Refrigerator Canyon.

Refrigerator canyonRefrigerator Canyon

Continue down the trail to reach the bottom of Zion Canyon.

Zion CanyonZion Canyon

Final descent into Zion Canyon

Final descent into Zion Canyon

Cross the bridge over Virgin River to end at the Grottos Trailhead.

Virgin RiverVirgin River

Essential Gear & Camping

Hiking Equipment.

Camping is only allowed at the designated camp sites that require prior reservation. Contact the park. See link below.

Red Tape & Weather

You must pay park entrance fee. Please beware that there are no fee booths on Kolob Terrace Road. You must pay in Springdale or elsewhere.

No permits needed for day hikes. See “Getting There” for road closures. See link below for all rules and regulations:

See the forecast for Springdale, UT
The weather will be much cooler at the northern trailhead.

External Links