The Watchman Trail takes off near the main campgrounds in Zion National Park, so it makes for a great short hike to do as an ‘extra’. It wouldn’t make my top couple of hikes in Zion because it has to compete with Angels Landing and The Narrows, as well as so many others. But it does bear mentioning because the scenery really is great, and you almost always have a partial day to fill when you’re traveling. If you do find yourself with a couple hours in the morning or evening this is the perfect hike. You don’t even have to take the shuttle or drive a vehicle anywhere so that’s also really appealing.
This hike has a reputation for being incredibly hot during the day which is why I recommended going in the morning or evening. In the morning you can watch the sunrise across the canyon on the opposite peaks. The colors of the rock at first light is amazing, and in the late evening the sun is setting across the canyon which means it’s going to be shining on you. If it’s the height of summer you’ll be hard pressed to find a time to hike this where it won’t be unbearably hot unless you start first thing in the morning.
This hike also makes for a great ‘rest day’ hike because it’s only 3 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 300′. For us it was the perfect way to end our rest day. We started by driving the Scenic Byway and hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail. Then we stopped to have dinner at our campsite, and we finished out the day by hiking the Watchman Trail. Since we went in the late fall, the evening is a fantastic time to hike the Watchman Trail because it’s not as hot, we actually had to bring long sleeves.
And just a quick side note on our camp dinner, we started using vermicelli rice noodles on our last big trip and we’ve never looked back. All you have to do is bring some water to a boil, turn the heat off, add the noodles and wait for 3 minutes – easiest camp cooking ever!
I brought along a variety of jarred sauces, some grilled chicken, and some sautéed veggies. Then we just mixed and matched depending on what mood we were in. One day might be pasta alla vodka with chicken and veggies, and the next day we were eating butter chicken noodles with spinach. I’m still working on a detailed post with all the sauces and dishes we cooked, so stay tuned!
A big rainstorm was rolling in, but we still got a great sliver of a sunset off in the distance.
And if you want to have an evening stroll after dinner, the trail does lead along the river for a little ways without gaining elevation, and the views are great, (see above photo).