Hiking Scout Lookout (and Beyond) at Zion National Park (Alternative to Angel’s Landing)

Note to my fellow wanderers: This guide was written from my first-hand experiences. I try my best not to over-glamorize any location I travel to because I want HappyWander’s content to be as authentic as possible. My goal is to provide you real information so that you can have the best possible adventures wandering the world. Enjoy!

Zion National Park, wow! Zion National Park is known for its stunning and diverse landscapes, including towering sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, lush forests, and the picturesque Virgin River, providing endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, hiking, photography, and connecting with nature in a truly awe-inspiring setting. If you’ve never been to Zion National Park, you’re in for a treat. There are quite a few famous hikes in Zion too including Angel’s Landing, Scout Lookout (part of Angel’s Landing), Zion Narrows Riverside Walk, and many more. I badly wanted to hike Angel’s Landing, but I did not win the permit lottery the 2 days I was staying in the area. This guide is going to show you an alternative route to Angel’s Landing you can do if you get denied the permit (only given to about 1000 people per day): Hiking past Scout Lookout on West Rim Trail.

Overview of Hiking Scout Lookout (and Beyond) at Zion National Park

Located in Southwest Utah, Zion National Park is one of the most epic places you could visit in the United States. In this section, I’ll help answer several frequently asked questions you may have yourself.

Scout Lookout via West Rim Trail Hiking Map (Alternative to Angels Landing)

This is a map (via alltrails.com) of the route I did.

Where to Park

To start this hike, I parked at Grotto Parking Lot. Here is the Google Map:

Note: I went to Zion National Park before their buses started shuttling. If you go to Zion during what’s considered their “peak season”, you’ll need to catch a bus to Grotto Parking lot area to start this hike.

Here is the address:

Grotto Parking Lot
725X+MM Springdale, Utah

Distance Traveled

According to Alltrails.com, I traveled 5.19  miles, which seemed about right. I followed the route to Scout Lookout but instead of going up Angel’s Landing to the right, I took the trail on West Rim Trail for another ~1 mile until I went off the trail a bit up to the top of a big hill)

How Long Does it Take to Hike?

I arrived at around 12:30 PM after driving from Bryce Canyon (about 2 hours). I finished the hike around 4:00 PM, totaling about 4 hours. The weather started getting really nasty at around 3 PM. it was super windy and it also started hailing on me on West Rim Trail.

Elevation Change

According to Alltrails.com, I climbed 1608 feet of elevation, which was definitely not accurate since I ended up climbing a ~200 foot hill off the West Rim Trail. I’d estimate I climbed 1800-2000 feet of elevation.

Scout Lookout (and beyond) via West Rim Trail elevation profile (via alltrails.com)

Difficulty

If you exercise regularly this hike was not too hard. Be sure to wear the right shoes, specifically for West Rim Trail past Scout Lookout. You could probably get away with tennis shoes on this hike. The hardest part is the switchbacks going up to Scout Lookout. The trail going up to Scout Lookout is paved, so that made it much easier than if it were a natural path with stones and roots.

Overall, I’d give this hike a 7.0 / 10 in difficulty.

Permits

You will need to purchase a pass into the park, but there are no permits for this hike. I tried to get the permit to hike Angel’s Landing twice while I was in the area but failed both times. Surprisingly, there was a tremendous amount of people visiting even in early March with nasty weather.

Cost

As of March 2024, the price to enter the park for one day is $35. A better option is to purchase the National Parks pass for $80 to visit any park in 2024.

When to Go

This park is open year round. I loved going in early March due to being able to drive to the parking lots instead of taking the shuttle. I have heard that in peak season it can be extremely busy. I thought it was super busy in early March, so if you like hiking and visiting National Parks, I’d recommend avoiding peak season (March to November).

Recommended Gear

Being at Zion National Park is a wonderful experience. I’ll highlight the gear that I brought in early March, as well as additional gear that might benefit you:

  • Layers: Depending on the weather, I’d recommend wearing layers and a light jacket. I wore thermal pants, water resistant running pants, a long sleeve exercise shirt, and a light jacket, which worked perfectly. Hiking beyond Scout Lookout, it got quite chilly with the wind and hail.
  • Hiking backpack with straps: If you don’t have a backpack with straps, I recommend you get one. They aren’t too expensive on Amazon. Your shoulders and back will thank you later. This hike, while not difficult, still has some ups and downs that can pay your body a toll without the proper gear.
  • Portable charger: If you take a lot of photos / videos like me, you’ll want to bring a portable charger for your phone. I also use the alltrails.com app to navigate so having enough battery is important.
  • Water bladder: If you want to save on weight and also help your backpack be more balanced than carrying a big bottle of water in your bag, a water bladder is important. I personally use a 3L water bladder and I drank about half of it on this hike.
  • Hiking shoes: Hiking shoes that are waterproof will benefit you if you go in on this trail. However, tennis shoes could be worn since more than 75% of the hike is paved. Hiking up the hill that I did on West Rim Trail was quite steep in parts so having shoes with good grip is important.
  • Snacks: Who doesn’t like snacks? While hiking, even on a short hike like this, you burn lots of calories. My personal go-to’s on this hike were: Honey roasted peanuts, gummy bears, and protein bars.
  • Bug spray: I didn’t experience bugs on this hike, so this wasn’t really needed. However, you may want to use some just in case, especially in summer.
  • First aid kit: It’s a good idea to bring Band-Aids, a bandage, and some cut cleaning items. I have needed band-aids in the past from slipping on rocks, but I did not on this hike.
  • Sunscreen: If you go on a sunny day, be sure to wear sunscreen. On the day I went, it was very cloudy and cold, so I was pretty covered.
  • Flashlight: If you go anytime near sunset or before sunrise, I’d recommend having a flashlight.

Nice to Have Gear:

Here are a few items that would make your Zion National Park hiking experience even better:

  • Shoe impact insoles: These can help as you traverse hard rocks along the way.
  • Phone tripod: If you go alone or with a group and want great pictures, a phone tripod is key. I use one on every hike I go on. You may not need to use one very often because there were quite a few people on this trail that you could ask to take a picture for you.

The Play By Play: My Route Hiking Past Scout Lookout on West Rim Trail at Zion National Park

So what’s it like hiking past Scout Lookout on West Rim Trail at Zion National Park? Read my hiking guide play by play below:

Parking Area

There are several parking areas near where this trail starts, but they were pretty packed. I was so lucky to get a spot in the first lot I pulled into. These parking areas were pretty tight, with not great accessibility into and out of them. I can see why they use shuttles when things get even busier.

Grotto Parking Lot at Zion National Park

From the parking area, it’s a short walk to the beginning of West Rim Trail.

West Rim Trail

The start of West Rim Trail is pretty flat as it parallels a river. I very much enjoyed the first views of the surrounding canyons:

Once you start the incline, it doesn’t stop much until you get in between Angel’s Landing and the mountain on the opposite side of you.

Once you walk through the elevated canyon, you’ll hit the hardest part of this hike, the switchbacks leading up to Scout Lookout.

Scout Lookout

Scout Lookout is a pretty cool spot with great views. It’s no reason people tend to stop and sit here for a while to eat a snack or just enjoy the view like I did.

Legs Over the Edge at Scout Overlook at Zion National Park

Here’s the view from the far side of Scout Lookout:

Note: There is also a restroom up here.

West Rim Trail Beyond Scout Lookout

Because I didn’t get the permit to hike Angel’s Landing (I so badly wanted to sneak on, but you can get in serious trouble if you get caught without a permit including up to a $5000 fine and/or 6 months in jail), I took the opposite trail via West Rim Trail. I ended up going about a mile and spotted a hill I wanted to conquer.

To get up this hill, there are several steep climbs / bouldering opportunities. Here is one of those:

Once I got to the top of the hill, which is off the trial on the AllTrails app, it started hailing and the wind really picked up. I decided it was time to head back down to the parking lot. Check out the wind here on my descent:

After Hike Dinner

After hiking in Zion National Park, I was in need of some major calories (this was my 2nd day in a row hiking, with another big hike slated for the next day).

I ended up going to Chick-Fila in Las Vegas, where I was staying and ordered 3 chicken sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with Chick-Fila! Unfortunately I didn’t snap a photo as I scarfed it down in the car driving.

About My Experience Hiking at Zion National Park

Overall, hiking at Zion National Park was great.

Below I’ll highlight some of my favorite parts, as well as some of my least favorite parts of this hike.

Favorite Parts

Here are a few of my favorite parts of hiking at Zion National Park:

Unbelievable Views:

The overall views in Zion are crazy beautiful. I entered the park from the East side, which takes you through a long tunnel. As soon as you emerge from the tunnel, you will be blown away by the incredible canyons and mountains in Zion.

Least Favorite Parts

Here is my least favorite part of this hike:

I Didn’t Get the Angel’s Landing Permit

I was most disappointed by not getting the Angel’s Landing permit the 2 days I tried.

The “Trail” is Concrete

For some people, this may be a benefit of hiking this trail, but for me, a concrete trail is too manmade for my liking. This makes the trail A LOT easier than if it were a natural trail with rocks and roots.

The Trail is VERY Busy

Even on the first day of March, Zion National Park and specifically West Rim Trail (going to Angel’s Landing and Scout Lookout) were extremely busy. I personally don’t like hiking super busy trails as it feels like you’re walking in a city instead of nature. I can’t imagine how busy this trail is with nice weather in June.

Overall Score

This hike, even with the stormy weather, was a lot of fun. I didn’t particularly love how busy Zion was, but the views all around are insane. I give this trail a 8 / 10. Had the weather been nicer and had I gotten the Angel’s Landing permit, perhaps this score would go up a tad. However, due to the reasons I outlined above, I do think this hike is a bit overrated. I can understand why people give it such high reviews as the views in Zion are so uniquely beautiful.

Final Thoughts on Hiking in Zion National Park in Utah

Zion is eye-opening, other-worldly. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. The park itself is one of my favorite places. As for the hike, it was certainly a good hike, but perhaps not as great for me as what the internet told me about this hike. I’d still highly recommend you take time visiting Zion, you will absolutely be blown away by its beauty.

Happy wandering to you!

Anthony Bart
Author: Anthony Bart

Hello! Welcome to HappyWanders! My name is Anthony, I'm on a mission to live a life full of adventure and to help you to do the same. As an ex-corporate worker and current entrepreneur, I've been working to design a life with more time for adventure and less time for the 9-5 grind. If you're ready for an adventure, you're my type of person!

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