Watchman Trail – Zion National Park

Hi friends, welcome back! Today I’m continuing my out west series and taking you on a hike up the photogenic Watchman Trail. If you missed my prior posts, you can check out Valley of Fire here, and Angels Landing here. We started this hike from the Zion National Park south entrance visitor center parking lot at 7 am. The visitor center is also where the shuttle parking is so it’s wise to get there early before spots fill up. It was also another scorcher of a day so we had to get a head start while there was still shade. Like most trails in the park, once the sun goes above the rim, this trail is completely exposed.

Watchman Trail is a moderate 3.1 miles out and back that gains 636 feet of elevation per the AllTrails app. We took a slight shortcut from the official trail and walked down the paved road to the trail head. Once we got on the actual trail there was a steady incline before some steeper switchbacks. The trail then gradually flattened out to a welcomed even section up to the lookout point.

This trail is named for the incredible views of The Watchman, a 6,545-foot sandstone mountain and one of Zion’s most iconic views.

Adjacent to The Watchman stands Bridge Mountain at 6,803 feet tall.

Across the way there are excellent views of The West Temple, Altar of Sacrifice, and The Sentinel mountain peak.

We had some fun with the prickly pear cactus.

There is also a short loop trail at the top that we walked through to get better views of Watchman.

We finished right as the sun was coming over the rim and it made for some cool pics!

Compared to Angels Landing, this hike seemed relatively easy and not at all scary. It was also less crowded, and had great views for not too much effort. This trail would be great as either a first or last hike in Zion National Park. I’d highly recommend checking out Watchman Trail, but be sure to go early to secure a parking spot, avoid crowds, and to get the hike completed while it’s still shady.

14 thoughts on “Watchman Trail – Zion National Park

  1. Looks like a great hike, views, low difficulty and no crowds. I do not mind sharing the trail, but sharing it with hundreds of others is not the best experience. You look awfully close to the cactus Lyssy. I got attacked by a cholla ball in Arizona. Apparently, they can jump. Who knew. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    1. I agree, I think we passed one or two small groups going up, and maybe three going down. Luckily I was still on EST so the two hour time change was about the normal time I would wake up. My sister is a bit anal with being the first to hike the trail, but it’s always worth it when we aren’t bothered by crowds or heat or parking fiascos. Luckily the cactus didn’t prick me, I’ll have to be wary of cholla balls!

  2. Wow! The Watchman trail looks spectacular, and your photos are so beautiful! The landscape looks so unique and the mountain ranges look so vibrant with all the colors and hues.

    1. Thank you so much! It was such a beautiful hike, and so different from the landscape in NY.

  3. The Watchman Trail should be one of the most popular trails in the park. Your early start provided great light as well as shade. Your mountain photos are gorgeous!

    1. Thank you! A lot of people do this hike at sunset, we had originally planned to but it was too hot and wouldn’t have been fun. Not sure I would want to come down this path in the dark, it was a bit uneven too.

  4. Another stunning hiking trail, Lyssy! Getting there early and finishing the hike before the sun gets unbearable sounds essential. Plus, you probably avoided some of the crowds. Your photos are wonderful, really enjoying this hiking series. Hope you’ve recovered from jet-leg and all the tiredness that comes with travel.

    1. Thank you! I always love going hiking, it’s a great break from city life to be immersed in nature. Out west is such a contrast to city life, especially in Utah where it’s a pretty dry state with only beer and wine haha. The jet-lag isn’t too bad until about 5pm and then I hit a wall, but all worth it of course 🙂

  5. The colors in your photos are spectacular Lyssy, especially the sun-drenched mountaintop in several. I’m guessing the canyon would be of duller hues later in the day. In the fourth/fifth shots I see obvious splotches of blue on the canyon walls. A trick of the light versus something natural, yes?

    1. Thank you! I see what you mean, those splotches are supposed to be black. I edit my pictures and sometimes the pics get a little weird when I dehaze and add clarity them. It happens more with iPhone pics compared to when I use my real camera. I can’t help but think you were great at reading the I Spy book with your kids because you are good at noticing things in pictures!

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