A short hike with a huge payoff
The Canyon Overlook has produced some of the most breathtaking shots of Zion Canyon ever photographed. It is a favorite among photographers and casual tourists alike. The trail itself is short and not particularly steep; elevation gain is somewhere around 100 feet between the parking lot and the viewpoint. The trailhead is initiated by a collection of stone steps that ascend the stone ridge directly above the north side of the road, across the street from the parking lot. The trail passes through shaded alcoves with ferns and trees, and over bare slickrock, wandering its way to the edge of the impressive cliff that makes up the overlook. The expanse of Zion Canyon is open before the Overlook, with its monumental formations visible on either side of the canyon. The switchbacks below the west end of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, West Temple, the Towers of the Virgins, the Streaked Wall, and the Beehives all make up part of this tremendous view. East Temple rises directly above the Overlook, towering more than 2,200 feet above the canyon floor. Great Arch lies recessed into the cliff-face below the Overlook, carving its way through the eons into the solid sandstone.
The trailhead is reached by following Highway 9, to the east entrance of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, directly below the East Temple Saddle. There is a parking area on the south side of the road, and the trailhead is across the street, on the north side of the road.
Canyon Overlook Trailhead(37.213178, -112.940495)
The trailhead begins here across the street from the parking lot. This is also the site of the east entrance of the Mount Carmel Tunnel, as well as the beginning point for those interested in descending the technical slot canyon of Pine Creek.
Canyon Overlook(37.212496, -112.945208)
The overlook is fairly easy to get to, and even most kids will find the trek more exciting than strenuous. From the Overlook itself, along with the awesome view into the lower end of Zion Canyon, visitors can ascend the East Temple Saddle, and then explore the upper end of Pine Creek.
The Great Arch(37.213175, -112.946034)
This is not a true arch, though it will be in a few million years. Just the same, the Great Arch is famously huge and deep. Visible from the highway, the proto-arch is slowly burrowing its way in to the southeast flank of east Temple.
Mount Carmel West Entrance(37.211918, -112.960181)
The tunnel opens up here as the road descends along the side of the canyon, following three sets of switchbacks that lead down to the mouth of wildly popular Zion Canyon.
East Temple(37.221026, -112.94997)
East Temple towers above Pine Creek and the Overlook, standing as a sentinel to the entrance of Zion Canyon and all of the treasured formations within.