West Rim Trail
Key information: West Rim Trail
- This is a long, but fascinating, beautiful and dramatic walk along the high plateau west of the Zion canyon areas, then dropping on amazing dynamited paths across the cliffs and slickrock of the Zion canyon sides to Scout Lookout, then down endless switchbacks to the Zion canyon-bottom.
- Superb all-round views of canyons, spires, towers and red sandstone walls.
- Walkopedia rating94
- Natural interest17
- Human interest5
- Negative points0
- Total rating94
- Length: 24km
- Maximum Altitude: Around 2,250m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This is a long, but fascinating, beautiful and dramatic walk. It winds along the high plateau west of the Zion canyon areas, with superb views west across the dramatic Wildcat Canyon, then drops on amazing dynamited paths across the cliffs and slickrock of the Zion canyon sides to Scout Lookout, then down endless switchbacks into the narrow Refrigerator Canyon and down to the Zion canyon-bottom at The Grotto.
Starting near Lava Point in the far north of the park, off the beautiful Kolob Terrace Road, the trail follows a flat ridge-plateau for 4 miles or so before dropping to grassy Potato Hollow. Around you are far views of the highlands, but little sign of the extraordinary drama below. The area is somewhat blighted by tree-burn, and was leafless-grey in early November when Walkopedia walked the trail, but it is fine walking with stacks of interest, at times through stands of ponderosa pines, at times on open ground.
Potato Hollow is somewhat peculiar, an attractive grassy valley dotted with pines and thick groups of white-trunked aspen. A steady climb for some 20 minutes gets you back to the western edge of the wide high ridge, and the first stunning views of the improbable Wildcat Canyon, a huge bowl of endless and often bare sandstone cliffs and pavements above a deep gorge, with flat, forested peaks high above. It is harshly, superbly beautiful. The trail swings east, and you view the even more remarkable broken spires and vast cliffs behind Zion’s western flanks. Fantastic.
A steady descent through attractive open forest gets you to the bottom of Telephone Canyon. The thrills really start now, on a good path which winds down the huge, smooth cliffs and slickrock above Zion’s upper reaches. It has clearly been dynamited out of the cliffs, and is superbly engineered.
At a shoulder, enter woodland, and drop steadily and delightfully to a peculiar upper bowl, all bare rock and lonely pines making an improbable living. Wind round the hillside below the enormous cliffs of the Cathedral Mountain formation, climbing to a low col and a new vista, south down peculiar red sandstone-and-pine slopes, above tremendous drop-off on both sides, to the impossible spine of famous Angel’s Landing, with the depths of Zion to the left.
Another delicious stretch gets to Scout Lookout, where the clamber to Angel’s Landing takes off. The trail down to the Zion canyon floor is superbly constructed, first the tightly-wound 20 or so small switchbacks of Walter’s Wiggles filling an absurdly steep cleft tucked into a corner of the cliff-face. A few minutes’ walk along the bottom of the dark, narrow and vast-cliffed Refrigerator Canyon, so-called because it is always cool as always sunless, gets you out to the top of another impossible-looking cliff. The trail zig-zags down, following faults and winding down embanked stretches to the main Zion canyon floor.
This is demanding walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather. Come fully prepared.
The Grand Canyon with Zion and Bryce Canyon NPs – Cicerone: excellent, includes all relevant practical information. Recommended. Find relevant books on Amazon.
See our Zion National Park page for more general and practical information and photos.
WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
of this walk
Starting near Lava Point in the far north of the park, off the beautiful Kolob Terrace Road, the trail follows a flat ridge-plateau (Horse Pasture Plateau) for 4 miles or so before dropping to the first campsites at Potato Hollow. Around you are far views of the highlands, but little sign of the extraordinary drama below. The area is somewhat blighted by tree-burn, and was leafless-grey in early November when Walkopedia walked the trail, but it is fine walking with stacks of interest, at times through stands of ponderosa pines, at times on open ground.
We eat a leisurely first snack.....READ MORE
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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