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Visited: March 27, 2016
Description: A popular hike in Zion famous for it’s intense elevation gain, anchored support chains and stunning views.
Length: 5.4 miles out and back
Elevation: 1,488 ft
Duration: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Terrain: Maintained rocky trail
Parking: Shuttle ride to Grotto (6) stop
Best time to go: The earlier, the better! We say this all the time but for Angel’s Landing, it’s even more important!
Bring: Camera, water, sunscreen, snack
The infamous Angel’s Landing… known for it’s strenuous altitude gain, exposed cliff faces, and “dangerous” fixed chains section at the top. Paired with breathtaking views, it is the ultimate adventure for any HikeSnob. When we had the opportunity to head out to Zion during Memorial Day Weekend, we knew Angel’s Landing would be at the top of our list.
We arrived at Zion’s visitor center at 6:30AM… another trip with 0 hours of sleep, why do we do this to ourselves?! We wanted to beat the crowd so we headed out bright and early. After getting off the shuttle at the Grotto stop, we crossed a bridge and turned right at the trail junction towards Angel’s landing.
The beginning of the hike is on a sandy dirt trail along the Virgin River. Not before long, the dirt trail becomes a paved ground and the elevation begins to rise through a series of steep switchbacks.
The climb up provides breathtaking views, you can’t help but to take a moment to look back.
While the trail is steep, it is definitely do-able. As you finish one switchback, you can expect there to be another. Sweat dripping and thighs burning, this is exactly what a leg day should entail. Excited for what was to come next, we continued on.
After a few more switchbacks, we reached a bridge that led us to the beginning of Refrigerator Canyon. The next 0.4 miles is a relatively flat in a cool shaded area, hence the name.
This is the perfect time to regain any lost energy. In less than half a mile you’ll hit “Walter Wiggles” – 21 tight switchbacks carved into the face of the peak – named after Walter Ruesh who constructed Angel’s Landing in 1926.
A little bit further and you will reach a small plateau – Scout Lookout. This is a good resting point after the long and arduous climb up. You can catch amazing views of the West Rim.
For those who are afraid of heights, this is the general turn-back point which some refer to as “Quitters Corner.” But for us Hikesnobs, no quitting for us!!! We were ready to take on the chain sections. Bring it on!
We were so excited that we went through the first part of the chain sections pretty quickly. We caught breath-taking views on both sides of the peak. The most thrilling parts were the narrow, stone spine sections with 1200+ foot drops on both sides. 😈
Most of the time, the fixed, chained railings are not needed if you have shoes with good grip but we used them the entire way for the novelty factor. We felt like little kids in nature’s playground climbing up the side of the peak. This was by far the best part of the hike. Our group was smiling and laughing the entire time. We wished the whole trail was like this!
After one more steep section and a little bit of scrambling and maneuvering on our end, we could see the trail come to an end.
Just a few more yards and we made it to the top! The view is absolutely stunning. We spent a lot of time taking in the view and enjoyed the most delicious apple ever. The altitude and hard work made our snacks taste AMAZING!
Sitting at the top of Angel’s landing, we let out a sigh of relief. After hearing all the warnings and the cautionary advice about how “dangerous” Angel’s landing is and how careful we should be, we were happy to have made it the top in one piece. We actually thought it wasn’t bad at all, we could have gone for a few more chain sections… Looks like these HikeSnobs are ready for something even more exhilarating next time around ;)…
- Wear solid shoes and hold onto the chains
- There is a restroom at Scout Lookout. It is the last chance to use the restroom before climbing those chains.
- While the climb wasn’t as bad as we expected, be careful. The day after completing this hike, there was a helicopter above Angel’s Landing that airlifted someone down due to a broken arm or leg. They had to close down the area for about an hour and turned everyone away. You do NOT want to see that bill in your mailbox or have hiked all the way up there just to be turned away.
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