Utah’s Zion National Park is teeming with seemingly endless opportunities for unique adventures and breathtaking sightseeing opportunities. One of those exciting opportunities is the Sand Bench trail, offering outdoor enthusiasts the chance to hike or go horseback riding. However, how long is the Sand Bench trail in Zion National Park?
The Sand Bench Trail in Utah’s Zion National Park is a roughly 3.5-mile roundtrip trail with a total elevation gain of nearly 500 feet. The Sand Bench trail hike is rated as moderately strenuous and can take between two to three hours to complete. Horseback riding is an option instead of hiking.
With so many unique opportunities on offer in Zion National Park, knowing which trail to try for the first time can be a challenging task. So, is the Sand Bench trail a good place to start? Discover how long the Sand Bench trail in Zion National Park is, if the trail is worth it, and what you need to be prepared for a hiking adventure on this Zion trail.
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How Long Is The Sand Bench Trail In Zion National Park?
For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, there is arguably no more extraordinary place on this earth than Utah’s Zion National Park. Indeed, the mesmerizing rock formations and breathtaking views are arguably incomparable to anything other destination. The opportunities for unique and thrilling adventures are seemingly endless and are undoubtedly bucket list-worthy.
One of the many adventure-filled trails in Zion National Park is known as the Sand Bench Trail. The climax of the Sand Bench Trail leads hikers to the highlands on top of an old landslide that gives outdoor enthusiasts what they came to Zion National Park to see – breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
However, if you have ever heard hikers talking about Zion National Park’s Sand Bench Trail, then you will know that it does not have the most outstanding reputation for being a top competing hike. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, most of the trail’s terrain is made up of deep sand, which can be extremely difficult to trek through, especially over long distances – think walking on the beach.
Secondly, combined with the difficulty of trekking through deep sand, the Sand Bench Trail is also exposed to direct sunlight throughout the hike. During the warmer months, this can quickly become a highly unpleasant hike. However, one workaround for this is to visit this trail during the cooler months of the year.
One unique factor of the Sand Bench Trail is that there are horseback riding options if you would prefer not to hike. This can be an enjoyable way to explore parts of Zion National Park and soak up some exquisite views.
On the other hand, the horses can make a hiker’s experience rather unpleasant since they have to move out of the horse’s way and inevitably navigate their way around several “land mines” that the horses leave behind.
The trail to the Sand Bench begins at the shuttle stop of the Court of the Patriarchs. From here, hikers will cross the main road and trek towards the hiker’s bridge that crosses over the Virgin River. After only a short while of hiking, the trail veers west and immediately gives hikers exquisite views of the Court of the Patriarchs.
Eventually, the trail starts to veer towards the south, and after a while of trekking, hikers will have to cross over a small stream. It may be small, but this section certainly adds an adventurous feeling to the hike, particularly for those who are beginner hikers.
Finally, hikers will climb to the top of the ancient landslide to the Sand Bench, acquiring a total elevation gain of nearly 500 feet – almost nothing compared to some of the more advanced hikes in Zion National Park.
Instead of going back the way you already trekked, the Sand Bench Trail is a loop-style trail. Both directions offer hikers unique views of Zion National Park. The ascending section of the trail is towards the east, offering several fascinating boulders and views of the main canyon. On the way back to the west, hikers will have incredible views of the ancient landslide.
Overall, the entire loop trail is roughly 3.5 miles long and could take between two to three hours or so to complete depending on your stamina while trekking through the deep sand and how long you spend soaking up all of the incredible views.
Is The Sand Bench Trail Worth It?
So, now that you are familiar with the details of the Sand Bench Trail hike, you are undoubtedly wondering if it is worth the amount of effort to witness the views on offer. Well, there are ultimately two sides to this.
Firstly, the hiking experience to the Sand Bench can be highly unpleasant. The deep sand can be an absolute pain to trek through, especially on a hot day. We recommend not doing this as your first hike for first-time hikers or visitors to Zion National Park. Sure, the views are stunning, but the hike is not all that pleasant.
On the other hand, the horseback riding option is a fantastic idea! The Sand Bench Trail is absolutely worth it when you don’t have to trek through the deep sand yourself. The horseback riding option offers a unique experience of exploring Zion National Park and is undoubtedly the best way to experience the Sand Bench Trail.
Preparing For The Sand Bench Trail In Zion National Park
As with any hike, preparation is vital. If you are going to be hiking the Sand Bench Trail, you do not want to skip doing thorough preparation.
Firstly, because of the deep sand that you will be trekking through, a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots are essential. You do not want to attempt this hike wearing flip-flops!
Secondly, the Sand Bench Trail is entirely exposed to direct sun. This means that wearing a hat and sunscreen is vital to prevent yourself from getting sunburn. Make sure to take plenty of bottled water with you, as trekking through the deep sand in the hot sun uses up a lot of energy and can leave you dehydrated very quickly.
As always, take a camera or your phone with you to take a few snaps of the beautiful scenery and breathtaking views that you will get to witness. Any adventure in Zion National Park is guaranteed to be an unforgettable memory!
Overall, the Sand Bench Trail is a roughly 3,5-mile roundtrip and is a moderately strenuous hike – thanks to the deep sand. The views are fantastic, so if you have the stamina and the experience of trekking through deep sand, this hike promises to be a great adventure. Otherwise, you could always try the horseback riding option too!