May 22nd, 2020
Length: 3.1 miles
Route Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 646 ft
Dog Friendly: No
Fee: Zion National Park Entrance Fee $35 (good for 7 days)
Restrooms at trailhead: No, but there are restrooms by the visitor center which is right by this trail.
We arrived to Zion National Park on Friday the 22nd around 3:00pm. We weren’t sure what the park would be like, since it just reopened the previous week (it was closed due to the pandemic). Plus not everything in the park was opened fully yet. The shuttle system is shut down still and there is no time line for when that will reopen again. Angels landing is still closed (the rail part of it). We had no idea what we were about to drive into. When we arrived Friday it seemed pretty quiet. We easily parked in the visitors center. We ate our much needed lunch on a picnic table by the visitors center and plotted our next move. The road to Zion Scenic Drive was closed when we got there. This area is the most popular part of Zion. It includes hikes like The Narrows and Angels Landing. This road is the only way you can get to these hikes. Usually you take a shuttle down this road to the various hikes, but since shuttles are not in service you are able to drive down this road. However, they are limiting the amount of cars allowed down because there isn’t a lot of parking at each trailhead. They are supposed to let cars enter this road once more cars leave, but we were never able to enter this road throughout the day. It always seemed like it was still closed. We did wake up early one day to get down this road, but I will talk about that in my next blog post.
We researched Zion a lot before we left. We knew it is one of the most crowded National Parks (for good reason, it is beautiful). So we decided to hike The Watchman Trail. We read a lot before we left that is trail is often overlooked because it is not in the popular part of Zion (Zion Canyon). It is right by the visitors center. This trail was not packed by any means. There were other people hiking it, but it wasn’t crowded.
It is across the street from the visitors center. You cross the road you drive in on and you will see a big sign that will say “Watchman Trail This Way”. You follow the trail along the river and then come to a street you will need to cross. From here you continue on up some manmade steps. There are a lot of switchbacks that lead you up and then across to Watchman Overlook. This trail is easy to follow. It is well marked and had incredible views of Zion throughout the entire hike. Once you get to the top you can continue down to the “loop trail”. There will be a sign pointing you down. And once you get to the end there will be another sign that says “Watchman Overlook”. It gives you an amazing view of “The Watchman”. It is a huge rock formation. We took some pretty fantastic photos with it. It also gives you great view of Zion Canyon. Overall, this trail is marked as moderate on All Trails. It is a great hike for all levels of hikers. I am an avid hiker, so I found this trail to be relatively easy. Based off of my All Trails app we did 3.55 miles and it took us about one hour and 30 minutes.