Zion National Park in southern Utah really is a special place, you can see and feel that as soon as you drive in. Besides the parks stunning landscape, its also has a number of amazing hikes, from the narrows to observaton point. One stands apart from them all.
Angels landing. Not a particularly long trail, at roughly 5 miles long, it is the 1500 feet elevation gain and intense exposure that makes this hike one of a kind.
The shuttle through zion drops you at the grotto, your starting point for this adventure where there is a water filling station. The trail starts over the road and accross a bridge over the river Virgin. A sandy trail leads you along the river a while before veering left, heading towards the canyon wall.
The first glimpse you get of what is to come is not far in.
As you peer up the trail you see this saddle, and you think to yourself, I wonder if thats what I have to get to the top of. Let me tell you now those thoughts will be with you for the length of this trail.
The trail leads you straight up that face in a series of gruelling switch backs, which cause you to climb rapidly. The views from the top are beautiful, but hold off on the pictures because its only a fraction of what you get at the top.
The trail then takes you back into a hidden canyon, which grants a bit of relief from Zions hot sun.
Unfortunately at the end of the canyon there are more switch backs. Shorter and fewer in number than the first set, but much steeper so gauranteed to get the thighs burning.
You then reach a significant point in the trail, as you get to the top there is a flatter section. There are some toilets here, and usually lots of people resting, albeit in minimal shade.
From here you get your first look at the final length of the angels landing trail, and this is where the stakes are raised.
The last half mile is more of a climb or scramble than a hike. There is a metal chain along the steeper exposed sections, but its doesnt remove the fact that at some points the trail is a foot or two wide with 1000 foot sheer drops on either side.
Someone with a fear of heights needs to think carefully about undertaking this section of the hike, as it is very high and can be exposed.
There have been 5 deaths on this trail since it opened, all from falls along the final section, so it has to be taken seriously.
That being said if you are calm, sensible and in appropriate footware it is a hugely rewarding hike to complete. The views from 1500 feet above Zion are breathtaking and will make you forget about the nerve wracking climb, if only until you start down.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE:
Take lots of water! Especially in the summer it can be very hot.
Wear appropriate footware, sturdy shoes with good grip.
Take your time, alot of people do the trail in summer, so you will probably have to wait to climb sections, especially towards the last half mile.
Worst comes to worst the hike, even excluding the final climb, is still a good challenge with rewarding views of Zion below.