Angels LandingView from Angels Landing

Angels Landing - Zion National Park


What a wonderful hike! If you want another fantastic view of one of the most beautiful places on earth, Angels Landing in Zion National Park is a hike you can not pass up.


The Angels Landing hike is a 5 mile round trip hike considered strenuous, but most of all it is mentally taxing. From Scouts Lookout to the top of Angels Landing is precarious at the least. The trail transverses a thin geological fin with drop offs to each side of 800 – 1200 feet. This is not a place for those with a fear of heights or who suffer with vertigo.


The day started early with a great breakfast at Oscar’s, a place of local fare in the small town Springdale located just outside of the south entrance to Zion.  Afterwards, we caught a local shuttle to the park entrance and headed into the park to catch one of the shuttle buses that bring you into Zion Canyon.  You can ride the shuttle to each viewpoint and walk short loop trails or find the trailhead to one of the great Zion Canyon hikes.  The great views while riding on the buses along the Virgin River to the Temple of Sinawava and back is worth the trip even if you don’t plan to do any hiking.   

 Winding Trail

Our stop for the trailhead for the Angels Landing hike is The Grotto.  After crossing a short bridge over the Virgin River we head up the sandy West Rim trail alongside of the Virgin River. Soon the trail becomes paved which makes the hike a little easier up the steady winding climb. About one mile into the hike is Refrigerator Canyon, a cool, deep, narrow canyon that is refreshing in the summer climate, but could be quite chilly in the cooler months. This section of the hike is very peaceful.

 Walter's WigglesRefrigerator Canyon

As you exit Refrigerator Canyon, you are treated to Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks. The will be your first test of real stamina and a great place to take some pictures. A slow and steady pace with a few short rests will get you to the top.


Just above Walter’s Wiggles is Scout Lookout.  There are steep drop-offs here and is a popular place to rest either on the way to Angels Landing or as a destination. The views from Scout Lookout are impressive in theirSquirrel own right. It is also where the trail splits. The West Rim Trail continues on and the trail climbing skyward to Angels Landing begins. Take time to rest, eat a snack, have a drink, take some pictures and watch the squirrels beg for food. They are unrelenting little critters! You can also listen to the stories from other hikers coming back from Angels Landing - both from those who made it and from those who changed their mind and turned around.  


This is also the place to decide if you are really up to hike the last half mile to Angels Landing. Again, heed the warnings that from here on is no place for the timid, those with a fear of heights or even a little vertigo. The trail is VERY narrow with long falls to each side. Although there are chains, hand holds, and footholds, you need to be confident in your balance and surefootedness. If you think you are physically up for it, face your fears and go ahead. It’s worth the trip!

Climbing the Chains    The Saddle     Climbing the Chains

From here you begin the trek across the saddle and up the climb to the summit of Angels Landing.  There are rock formations that work like stair steps, short scrambles up tree limbs and some sections where the trail is only as wide as your two feet.

Not very wide!

Passing other hikers takes some planning and care. The climb to the summit is precarious but not really difficult. Again, slow and steady is the way to go. Once you reach the top, it all becomes worthwhile. The views of Zion Canyon and the Virgin River from a 1500 ft perch are breathtaking. From here you can see great formations such as The Great White Throne, Red Arch Mountain and The Organ with the Virgin River winding around it like a horseshoe.

 Climbing the Chains5    The Top Ridge    Enjoying the View

Angels Landing was so named because it is so massive and narrow that only angels might land on it.  Being in no hurry to go anywhere, we stayed at the top for quite a while and soaked in the beauty. What a wonderful, peaceful place. We took some pictures, ate our lunch with another couple that we met along the way, took more pictures - you get the idea. Although we tried, I don’t think pictures express the feeling of being on top of Angels Landing.

 Patty & Mike

The trip down and across the saddle back to Scout Lookout is again thrilling. Looking downward as you hike is different than climbing up. After a quick stop and a last look around at Scout Lookout, we headed back down to the river. Chatting about the exciting trip, the trail and the views made the hike down easy and seemingly quick.


We will take this hike again… and possibly again and again, depending on how many of our friends and family we can convince to come along. We love to share things that are special to us with the ones are special to us.         

 Mike & Patty Poupart
(Date of Trip:  August 25, 2008)

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