Sand Bench Trail

Bring Along:


  • Camera

  • Sun Protection

  • Trail Map

  • Water

Trail Description:


  • Moderate

  • 2 - 3 Hours

  • 3.5 Miles Round Trip

  • Year Round Access

The Sand Bench trail is a loop trail located at the Court of the Patriarchs in the south-central section of Zion National Park. The trail begins on the banks of the Virgin River, with an increases in elevation of 4,240 feet which then rises up to a 4700 foot high plateau. The 2000 foot tall Mountain View is blocked because of a huge landslide which occurred in the main canyon few thousand years back. The landslide was caused by a huge portion of the Sentinel Mountain that collapsed.

In April of 1995, another smaller landslide of the Sand bench trapped a few tourists in the canyon for some days. The Sand Bench loop is an isolated trail that takes you to the high ground on top of the landslide area. From there you can see some great views of the adjacent mountains as well as the main canyon road below. The 6,904 foot streaked wall and the 7157 foot Sentinel are known as Shear Walls that are located on the west side of the plateau. These rises are notable landmarks of Zion National Park.

The Sand Bench Loop begins at the Court of the Patriarchs bus stop. The trial is approximately 3.5 miles round-trip. The trail first takes you to the west section where you have a perfect view of the Court of the Patriarchs. The trail then heads south and crosses a tiny stream, followed by a hike to the top through the landslide area, ending at the Sand Bench Loop.

From the Court of the Patriarchs, a small trail leads to the north that connects with the Emerald Pool Trailhead and the Zion Lodge. Total elevation increase at the top of the sand bench is about 500 feet, which is considered as a low gain compared to most hikes that lead to the canyon rim.

Make sure to hike the entire loop of Sand Bench because the entire loop offers a unique experience and gorgeous views.

The eastern part of trail gets rocky with several boulders scattered across the trial. The western part of the trail offers outstanding views of the ancient landslide. The sand is the main concern of this particular trail. Although the trail is mostly smooth and contains fine sand, some places can get quite deep and slow down the hike, while other areas are worse.

The Sand Bench Loop is better for guided horseback that rides within the Zion National Park.

During the peak season, from April to October, there are more visitors and more horseback rides, so be careful and watch your step as you go along the trail. The park implemented a rule in 2005 that only 2 guided horse tours a day are allowed on the trail. The summer season is too hot for this trail as there is no shade in this area.

The best time to visit the trail is during the cooler months, from September to May.

Sand Bench – Horse Trail

Kids can enjoy the horseback rides along this trail. The deep sand makes for a slow hike and hikers may feel tired when they finish the trail. With horseback rides many people are finding it easier to complete the trail. The suggestible hiking time is fall, early spring and winter. Remember during the peak season you will have to face other problems like large crowds, chaos with horses and riders, wet spots and more.

This Sand beach loop is an isolated section of the park. However, it is still considered as an official trail, even though fewer people visit this section of Zion National Park. This trail is the best choice when wanting to escape the crowded Emerald Pool section of the park and enjoy the exclusive scenery and horseback rides. The summer can be extremely hot and the horses, hot sand and wet spots can make your trip less pleasant. The important thing is that you enjoy the trip no matter what. Be sure to utilize the available services and enjoy your trip.