It was a chilly October morning. We had driven 6 hours after work on a Friday to get a quick shut-eye in a rusty hotel in Mesquite, Nevada. According to the map, we still had another hour to drive before we reached Zion. We heard it was amazing, full of red rocks and beautiful waterfalls, but we had no idea how impressive this place would be. Let me tell you, it was magical.
We got there early and thank goodness we did. The crowds started to gather on the way down and you’ll see why. For the less experienced hikers, Angels Landing is considered difficult. But for an avid hiker, Angel’s Landing is just perfect. Reason #1 why Angel’s Landing is the perfect hike: It combines uphill challenges, variety, and viewpoints so insane you have to stop and stare (or take a picture or twelve). Save about 4-5 hours for this hike. It’s about 5 miles roundtrip but save ample time to take in the breathtaking views at the very top.
If you leave your car at Zion National Park’s main canyon, take the shuttle to stop 6. From here, begin heading up the Grotto Trail. It starts off fairly easy. Reason #2: the first few minutes are just a warm-up. Then you’re challenged with a series of uphill switchbacks. These proved to be my biggest struggle and greatest workout. Feel your legs burn as you make your way up to the beginning of the hike’s magnificent beauty. Again, go early. The heat makes this part much more difficult.
On the way up to the top, there are plenty of unique rock formations you can climb, hike, and jump off of. Exploring is the best part. Reason #3: Walter’s Wiggles. The final series of switchbacks before you reach the first lookout: Scout’s Lookout. For those who have a fear of heights, this may be your last stop up the 1488-foot rock. The view from here is still amazing. If you’ve made it here you’ve already made it most of the way. But… if you’re up for the biggest challenge, hike another mile or so and you’ll start the journey to the final climb. Here’s the part where people get nervous, but there is no need to fear as long as you are cautious. Be aware of your surroundings and stay focused. Here’s the part where the trail turns into a narrow one-way trail up a steep yet jagged rock.
Trust me, the views are worth it at the very top. Once you let go of the chains (literally), you are nearly there. Scale the rocks carefully and follow the trail to the very top. Reason #4: An overwhelming sense of achievement trickles through your body when you reached the top of the mountain, otherwise known as Angel’s Landing. From the top, take a deep breath as you look over the top of Zion rock and all its beauty. Here you’ll find fellow adventurists that are in it for the same thrill and the same amazing photo op. The magnanimous energy that is felt at the top of the mountain is contagious.
And the final reason why Angel’s Landing is the perfect hike: go back the same way you made it up, downhill. You deserve it.
Know Before You Go
- Go early! I can’t emphasize this enough. You’ll avoid the heat and the crowds. The first shuttle of the day is at 7:00 a.m.
- The trailhead to Angel’s Landing begins at shuttle stop 6. There are restrooms for your convenience.
- Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
- There are danger warnings so be cautious and patient.
- Have lunch at the Zion Brewery for a well-deserved cocktail and a delicious brunch. The view outdoors is spectacular and so are their large salad bowls.
- Don’t forget to capture the moment you reach the top. It’s worth it and you won’t want to forget it.