The Watchman Trail is a great little trail that, along with the Pa’rus bike trail, is just within the sanctuary of the park and often overlooked by Zion visitors, whose eyes are glued to the more famous attractions of the park, such as Angels Landing and the Narrows. Tourists drive by without ever realizing that The Watchman overlooks the entire Springdale area, and that the trailhead to the mountain’s overlook is just over half a mile away from the South Entrance to the park, making it the closest classic hike in the park, and ideal for a first-time visitor’s taste of Zion magnificence.
Trail Type: Hiking
Length: 3 miles roundtrip
This trail does not actually climb the heights of the Watchman Spire itself, but contents visitors with a great view of the valley beneath its great stature. Not overly long, and climbing less than 400 feet in elevation, this trail is great for the Zion novice or veteran. The trail is surrounded by desert greenery on all sides. Hardy shrubs and evergreen trees give the occasional shade along the trail, and prickly pear cactus is prevalent—requiring parents to watch their little children closely. This trail is exposed to the strength of the sun for nearly the entire route, meaning that visitors should take plenty of water and avoid hiking during the afternoon heat of a summer day if they are unused to the Southern Utah climate.
The trailhead is located near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, across the street from the shuttle stop. A sign marks the trail. The route skirts below the Watchman Campground, and you can also hop onto it in several spots if you are camping there.
The trail heads east into the drainage between the imposing bulk of Bridge Mountain and the Watchman Spire. As it climbs into the foothills it swings south and crosses to the bench on the south side that levels off onto the Watchman overlook.
The overlook includes a small (third of a mile) loop trail that follows the edge of the Watchman bench. The loop trail is very scenic and highly recommended by those who have hiked the trail.
The Spire rises some 2,200 feet above the overlook below, and is part of the same formation as Bridge Mountain.
This large mountain sits to the north of Watchman Spire, hiding a beautiful, amazingly fragile arch within its rocky summit. A technical route takes visitors on a 10-mile trek down Gifford Canyon, up Hepworth Wash, and finally up the north side of Bridge Mountain, to see the arch.
Zion National Park South Entrance
This is the doorway to the most popular canyon country in all of Utah, and some say worldwide. Zion certainly has some extremely unique canyons and rock formations, and in large concentration.