Riverside Walk in Zion is one of the parks most beautiful and accessible trails. It runs alongside the Virgin River and leads to the Narrows, one of Zion’s most iconic hikes. Popular with families and those seeking a leisurely yet scenic hike, Riverside Walk is a wonderful Zion trail.
For those of you planning a trip to Zion National Park we wanted to share our experience and tips for hiking the Riverside Walk trail.
Riverside Walk is located in Zion National Park beside the town of Springdale, Utah. The park is home to the tallest sandstone cliffs in the world and they soar over the Virgin River and the Zion Canyon valley floor.
Riverside Walk is an easy 2.2 mile round trip hike which starts from the Temple of Sinawava (stop 9 on the shuttle) and finishes at the entrance to the Narrows. Once known as the Gateway to the Narrows, the trail is shared with hikers making their way to the start of the Narrows.
Where to stay in Zion
- Camping: There are two campsites, Watchman Campground and South Campground, within the park. Both campsites are located near the visitors center at the South entrance. At the Watchman sites are released for reservation on a 6 month rolling basis while in the South Campground it is on a 14 day rolling basis.
- Zion Lodge: located deep within the park the historic lodge offers a mix of cabins and hotel rooms. We’ve stayed in the Lodge and it’s a nice traditional option which really allows you to immerse yourself in the park. The lodge fills up well in advance so it’s worth checking your dates well in advance of your trip. We highly recommend staying here as its an incredible location – check prices here!
With limited accommodation in the park itself visitors to Zion typically stay in Springdale, a small town next to the south entrance. The Springdale Shuttle connects Springdale to the Zion Visitors Center and the Zion Shuttle so it is just as easy to stay adjacent to Zion and there are more food options in the town.
- Cable Mountain Lodge: great selection of family friendly rooms, excellent food and an outdoor pool overlooked by the Zion Watchman! Its location, adjacent to the Zion Visitors Center, means you can hop on the park shuttle bus and reach any of the trails within minutes. Our Zion favorite – check prices now!
- Flanigan’s Inn: just 10 minutes walk from the Zion entrance and located on a Springdale Shuttle stop, Flanigan’s Inn is a reasonably priced option with good sized clean rooms, a pool and a hot tub – check prices now!
Hiking the Riverside Walk Trail
The Riverside Walk trail is an easy 2.2 mile round trip and is one of the best hikes in Zion. The trail is mostly flat and follows a wide paved path.
- Hike Length: 2.2 miles round trip
- Hike Difficulty: the hike is rated as easy by the National Parks Service.
- Zion Shuttle stop: Temple of Sinawava (stop 9)
- Wheelchair Accessibility: along with the Pa’rus trail, Riverside Walk is one of the two trails that are listed as wheelchair accessible in Zion. The first 0.4 miles of the trail are accessible. Beyond this, there are short sections which exceed a 20% gradient or where the path narrows to 3 feet in width. The winds can also blow sand on parts of the trail.
The Riverside Walk is a beautiful hike along a relatively flat paved trail which runs adjacent to the Virgin River.
The trails begins at the Temple of Sinawava which is the final stop on the Zion Shuttle.
The start of the trail leads up the canyon past the tall weeping walls, lush vegetation and the occasional waterfall! The canyon is steep and narrow and the scenery is spectacular. At quiet times, hiking the Riverside Walk trail is really peaceful.
Riverside Walk Zion tip: the Riverside Walk is one of the most accessible trails in the park and, combined with the crowds making their way to the start of the Narrows, it can get extremely busy. The narrow paths can make it feel like you are being swept along in the crowds rather than enjoying a leisurely hike. Set off early in the morning if you want to avoid the bulk of the crowds.
A dirt trail runs path runs alongside the paved trail and we spent some time deer spotting through the trees!
The trail continues until it reaches the start of the Zion Narrows and it is fun to watch the Narrows hikers set off in the water. The river is flat and wide at this point so it’s possible to hike up the river a little on the Narrows trail before returning back to the Temple of Sinawava via the same trail you hiked out on.
Hiking the Riverside Walk Trail with kids
Along with the Pa’rus trail, Riverside Walk is one of the best Zion hikes with kids.
The trail is stroller friendly although a carrier is preferable at busy times when the path is crowded. On our last visit we set off early on the trial and were able to use our stroller the entire way!
There is river access at several points along the trail. On a hot summers day kids will love the opportunity to dip their feet in the Virgin River.
The trail is also great for spotting wildlife and we’ve seen many deer and squirrels on our Riverside Walk hikes.
Tips for the Riverside Walk Trail
- Arrive early: The trail gets extremely busy so the earlier the better! We started our mornings at sunrise and it was incredible to enjoy the almost empty buses and trails and the uninterrupted views.
- Water: a water filling station is located at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop.
- Winter hikes: the trails can be very icy in the winter. It is essential to wear shoes with a strong grip or pick up some Yaktrax for your sneakers. Layer up!
- Summer hikes: summer temperatures can be extreme so try to hike outside the peak sunshine hours. Bring lots of water, sunscreen and sun hats
Nearby Hikes: The Narrows
The Riverside Walk trail ends at the start of the iconic Zion Narrows, a difficult 9.4 mile out and back hike depending on how far you venture.
Riverside Walk Zion tip: this refers to the Bottom Up Narrows Day Hike. The Top Down Thru Hike requires a permit.
One of Zion’s best hikes, the Narrows follows the Virgin River into a narrow slot canyon. The trail leads to Mystery Falls and then passes close to the Orderville Canyon. The next highlight is the iconic Wall Street with its narrow passageways and towering canyon walls. The furthest point on the Bottom Up hike is Big Springs where hikers turn around and make their way back to the Riverside Walk.
Mystery Falls, a ½ mile hike, is a beautiful introduction to the Narrows and a great option for extending the Riverside Walk hike.
The trail is an out and back so you can decide where you want to turn around: Mystery Falls is 1.5 miles from the shuttle stop, Wall Street is 2.5 miles and Big Springs is 4.7 miles out and back.
Always make sure to check in with the rangers for conditions on the trail as flash floods present a huge danger on the Narrows trail.
Depending on the time of year, you may need some specialist gear to hike the Narrows – we last visited Zion in Winter and lots of hikers had rented sticks, boots and socks and wet gear Summer is a great time of year for hiking the Narrows when the water levels are lower and the temperatures warmer.