Angel’s Landing Trail, Zion National Park, Utah.
When you first see the giant 1,500′ tall monolith of Angel’s Landing from the shuttle bus, you would think there is no way anyone except the most experienced rock climbers could stand on top. It is hard to fathom the fact that there is a regular park service maintained trail to the top! Now it isn’t exactly like any old trail, in fact they warn you on the bus that portions of the trail near the top are only 3 feet wide, with a 1,200′ vertical drop on one side, and an 800′ vertical drop on the other, with a chain railing down the middle!
The trail itself is 5 miles long, and climbs just over 1,500 vertical feet. They say to allow 4 hours – you can certainly do it in less time, but with the amazing views up and down Zion Canyon, you aren’t going to want to rush.
The first photo shows the bottom portion of the trail. This winds up at a nice steady pace and is actually concrete much of the way, so traction isn’t a problem. After this stretch you continue through a cool shaded canyon appropriately named Refrigerator Canyon. Then comes Walter’s Wiggles. Walter’s Wiggles is a narrow, steep stretch of tight switchbacks – someone told us there are 21 in all – I can’t count that high. I have seen some neat photos of this stretch taken from a distant viewpoint.
After Walter’s Wiggles you reach Scout’s Landing. From Scout’s Landing you get a nice view of the Big Bend area of the valley floor. This is the turnaround point for many hikers, as the next stretch is where the chains begin, and it’s not a place for someone with a fear of heights. I must admit, my hands were pretty sweaty at times!
I know this photo is kind of small, but if you look close you can see a bus on the road way down in the valley floor. This is one of the chain railing sections. The drop to the left is almost as steep.
This is the final climb to the top along the ridge - these visitors are descending. You don’t want to trip! The middle photo was captured about halfway across this spine, the first photo was from far below to the left.
I noticed the steal chain didn’t have a bit of rust on it – I’m sure it stays nice and polished – very few people were letting go!
My plan was to photograph the full moon rising at sunset from the top of Angel’s Landing, but I decided this wasn’t the kind of trail I wanted to descend in the dark with a little head-lamp. So that is why yesterday’s moon-lit photo post was from a location safely in the floor of the valley.
No question if you visit Zion this should be high on the list of things to do – maybe second only to a hike in the Zion Narrows. The trail is a lot of fun, and the views are amazing. Two thumbs up to the Park Service for even building and maintaining a trail like this.
NOTE FROM JANINE: The last 1/2 mile of this trail is crazy and should only be attempted by those who are insane!! I tried to make it past Scout’s Landing but didn’t make it very far before my legs were shaking, I knew what would happen next so before I froze up I turned around and waited for Ron at Scout’s Landing. And we began this hike with the intention of coming down in the dark…glad Ron thought better of it! I hope to try again before we leave but after looking at Ron’s pictures I’m not sure this is a place for me, I’ll give it another go though.
Here are more Zion National Park photos.