If your time is limited in the park and/or you want a relatively
short, easy hike, either of these trails will give you some great views
of the Virgin River and colorful cliffs in Zion Canyon.
The Pa'rus Trail is paved and starts at the visitor center/campground
area near the west (south) gate of the park.
Gorgeous scenery along the Pa'rus
You can get to Riverside Walk, which is ten miles
north of the visitor center, on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive via the free shuttle bus
Riverside Walk is in a much
narrower canyon by the river.
This afternoon Jim rode his bike from our campground just outside the
west gate of the park to the pedestrian entrance, got on the Pa'rus
Trail, hopped on the scenic drive at Canyon Junction and cycled to the
end of the road at the Temple of Sinawava.
Round trip out and back to our campground was a total of 18 miles. He
got another six miles cycling in Springdale with Casey on the Walky Dog
Zion Canyon by bike
I walked about 3/4 mile from our campground through the pedestrian
entrance to the park, past the visitor center, and
found the beginning of the Pa'rus Trail. I followed it a little less than two
miles to its end at Canyon Junction.
Then I hopped on one of the free Zion shuttle buses and rode it about
eight miles to the end of the road at the Temple of Sinawava
turnaround. Jim knew I'd get there soon after he did on his bike, so he
waited for me.
Bus stop/turnaround at Temple of
After we talked for a little while Jim rode his bike back to our
campground and I hiked the Riverside Walk to its
end at the beginning of the Virgin River Narrows. When I was done hiking I
rode the bus back to the visitor center and walked home.
We both had fun later in the afternoon comparing notes about what we
each did and
One of several bridges over the
Virgin River on the Pa'rus Trail
This entry focuses on scenes along the Pa'rus and Riverside trails.
Because of the number of photos, it's on two pages.
I'll show scenes from my own bike ride out and back on the Zion
Canyon Scenic Drive in another entry; I didn't have a bike to
ride until I got a new one at the end of the week. (My Specialized
Tricross cyclo-cross bike was stolen earlier in April while I was hiking
on the Pacific Crest Trail.)
This mostly-flat, paved trail runs for about 1¾
miles, mostly close to the Virgin River, from the park visitor center to Canyon
Junction. It is accessible for wheelchairs and strollers and rated
"easy" in difficulty.
This is a map section from the park's online pdf. guide that shows
the Pa'rus Trail, which I highlighted in yellow:
Joe Braun has excellent topo maps for this and other trails in the
national park on his
website. Since they are copywrited, I'm
using the public photos from the park service's website here so I don't
get sued. Joe also has detailed trail descriptions that are good to read
before hiking Zion's trails.
Because of its location near the visitor center and campgrounds, the
Pa'rus Trail stays busy. In addition to lots of foot traffic with
often-distracted pedestrians, cyclists are also encouraged to ride on this path
instead of the main park road from the west (south) gate to Canyon Junction
because the road is so congested with passenger vehicles and shuttle buses.
Near its beginning just past the visitor center the path arcs around South
Campground as it follows a curve in the Virgin River:
The Virgin River is on the right as you're heading
on the Pa'rus Trail from
the trailhead near the visitor center.
Tents and RVs in the South Campground
I highlighted five people in front of me -- three walking,
two riding bikes (including a very young child).
Dogs are also allowed on this trail -- the only "
trail" in the park they can use.
So with all these different obstacles, ya gotta be patient and
cautious on this multi-use trail. Don't expect to be able to run or ride
a bike fast here. Be courteous and enjoy the scenery!
I took the rest of these pictures as I hiked north on the Pa'rus
Trail. As you can see, it is mostly exposed so it's most pleasant in the
cooler months or earlier/later in the day when the sun isn't as hot or direct.
I had fun watching several white domes that look
sort of like smokestacks as I walked toward Canyon Junction. They are
partially hidden by other mountains on the west side of Zion Canyon.
They are barely visible in the next two pictures but more clear in the
third one where I zoomed in on them:
The path crosses the Virgin River several times:
Jim caught up to me on his bike before I got to Canyon Junction. I
had turned around to take a picture and saw him coming, somewhat ruining
The trail goes under the main park road (Hwy. 9) at Canyon Junction and
ends shortly after that on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive:
At Canyon Junction I waited at the shuttle bus stop for a little
while until the next bus came,
then rode it to the end of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. I got off at the
last stop, Temple of Sinawava, and found the trailhead for Riverside Walk.
Continued on the next page: scenes from Riverside Walk
to The Narrows
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2016 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil