I sat near a 1,500 foot vertical drop and admired the view. It had taken me almost 8 years of plotting and planning to make this trip a reality. The view from Angel’s Landing exceeded expectations and was worth the wait. The early explorers were right.
Angel’s Landing is one of the classic hikes in the American West. The Landing is located in the heart of Zion National Park in southern Utah. Zion National Park is made up of canyons, mountains and maseas. Most visited to Zion visit the Zion Canyon. Due to the size and limited parking in the canyon, only park buses are allowed up the canyon.
I specifically picked my internship to justify a end of summer visit to Zion. I was driving from Colorado to Tennessee with a 5 stops in Utah. Zion was my second to last stop in Utah. I got lucky and one of the Zion National Park campgrounds had room so I go to camp in the canyon. I was most excited about not having to drive into the park really early to catch the first shuttle.
I caught the 6 am shuttle up the canyon to the Angel’s Landing stop. Thankfully, there were only two other people on the bus so I would beat the crowd to the landing. The first about mile is gentle upward slope. It has just enough elevation change to allow one to get into a good rhythm before starting Walther’s Wiggles.
The Wiggles are a series of steep switchbacks to the 2 mile marker on the Angel’s Landing trail. The actual 2-mile marker is a ledge called Chicken’s Coup. It is a resting spot before the hiking gets serious and the real fun begins. There is a nice outhouse at the Coup. I don’t bother with the outhouse but I do take advantage of the nearby rock outcropping to take my pack off and rest my legs. From Chicken’s Coup, it is possible to see the last half mile of trail and get a feel for the view on the landing.
I know I don’t have time to waste. I am trying to get to Angel’s Landing as fast as possible. I want as much time on the Landing as possible before the morning hikes start showing up in large droves. Chicken’s Coup does a decent job at weeding out the faint of heart or the unable, but it doesn’t stop all of them. I can see one of the hiker I started with ahead of me and I know one is behind me. I glance at my watch. It’s been 45 mins since I started hiking. The second bus load is already on their way up and the third is making their way up the canyon.
With that, I set off on the scariest half mile of hiking I have every done. It is impossible not to look down. Each side has a steep 500 ft plus drop of. It would be only too easy to lose my balance and fall of. I make sure to keep at least three points of contact at all times. It takes me a decent amount of time to work my way up to the top. I climb up the last bolder and I am standing on Angel’s Landing.
The view was worth the 1500 ft climb and as scary as the last 0.5 miles was I would do it all over again for the view. The hiker ahead of me gives me a nod and we go back to enjoying the view in the quiet morning air.
The third hiker joins us a little later and the three of us enjoy the view for about an hour. We all share a glance when we hear the laughter of other hiker making their way up.
The other two hikers head out and I stay to enjoy the view and take a few more pictures. Within an hour there are about 30 people on Angel’s Landing. I decided to leave when someone gets out their cell phone to call and have a phone conversation.
I look down and realize that going down is going to be a whole other adventure. It is a lot of waiting for people to pass as well as very carefully picking places to put one’s feet.
I make it down the trail to a Chickens coup. I am stopped by a concerned parent. She points at her two boys and asks if I think she should take them up. I give here an honest description of the trail. She turns around and heads back down Walter’s Wiggles. I take a rest break and people watch.
I couldn’t believe some of the people I finding heading up to the landings. The guy with his infant in a backpack. The lady dragging her two young boys who are shoving each other. The dad on the rest break sharing a 2 liter of Coke with this kids.
I shake my head and start back down Walter’s Wiggles and the bus stop. I take a moment at the bus stop and look up at Angles Landing. I am already looking forward to my next trip to Zion National Park and hiking Angels Landing again.
36 thoughts on “A visit with Angels at Angel’s Landing”
Angle’s Landing is such a great hike – congratulations for reaching the top – we were unable to climb the last half mile when I visited due to strong winds 🙁
Great photos and it looks like it was a lot of fun. Scary – but fun!
That sucks but at least you were safe. So many people don’t think about the safety when doing that hike.
Stunning views! I haven’t yet made it to Zion National Park but it’s on the list. After looking at your photos and reading, I think it might be best to go that one without my 3 year old daughter. She’s joined me around the world but I draw the line at inclines like that.
Thank you for that. I totally agree with you on your daughter. She is to young and it is rather dangerous. There are plenty of amazing things to do without needlessly risking her life at that age. Give it 8 years and that’s a different story.
Seriously stunning views! I haven’t yet made it to Zion National Park but it’s on the list. We spent a bit of time in Utah last year though sadly were there during school holidays so decided it wasn’t the right time to go. Wanted to be able to appreciate the park without huge throngs of tourism. So will have to get back!
School holidays suck for visiting national parks. I do like that parents bring their kids to the park, I just don’t like being around lots of them. Utah is an amazing state and the parks are amazing.
Ad a City traveller I’m so fascinated by this kind of adventures. What would you suggest To ‘beginners’?
To beginners, I would say pick a well-maintained trail in good weather and go for a hike. Make sure to take plenty of water and food with you. Also make sure you are in condition to do the trail. For someone in decent shape who starts early in the morning, Angel’s Landing is do-able. Just trust your instincts on the last half-mile.
That is an epic hike! Congrats! The reward is the amazing pictures you have captured from the top. 😉
It was an epic hike and I highly recommend it.
We are planning on RVing the States in the upcoming years. Zion has been at the top of my list for so many reasons! I can’t wait to get there and do some hiking (minus the cell phone conversations!)! Thank you for the inspiration!
Zion is amazing but don’t forget all the other great parks in Utah and the rest of the USA.
Reminded me of some of those beautiful scenes from 127 Hours… We badly want to visit during our US road trip – but why so long to plot/plan for it?
You blew me away though with the photos – just stunning!
The scene should remind you of 127 hours. The incident took place in a canyon in Utah (That is my only comment on that to avoid the rant about how many wilderness safety rules he broke). Mostly it was finding a reason to be in the area and have the time to visit.
Now I am motivated to do some scary hikes! I have zero experience in this department but I hike a lot, too! I just can’t label them ‘scary.’ Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!
Scary hikes can be a lot of fun, just stay safe. I love hiking and exploring new trails.
This hike looks amazing! I have never explored Zion National Park, but I am excited to one day. I haven’t necessarily been on a ‘scary’ hike, though there have been scary elements of some hikes. One in particular, in Korea, hiking is very, very popular. I was at the top of the 2nd highest peak in the country (Bagundae) and it is sheer rock. There are no steps or indents or anything and it is PACKED! So many people! Trying to climb up the sheer face with so many people was really scary, I thought at any moment someone was going to fall off the edge!
I felt that way coming down once Angel’s started getting crowded. This is why I went really early in hopes to avoid most the crowd.
Wow, that’s such a great post! I’ll be in Utah soon, so that comes in quite handy. It looks gorgeous and glad you did the hike! My scariest one so far was in South Africa. Scary, because we got a wrong information and didn’t have enough water with us and food… and also scary because we lost the group as they were more running up the mountain than hiking. That was quite tricky and I was scared to loose them completely, there were huge rocks around us and it was impossible to see them. Hope on some good hikes in Utah! Cheers from Costa Rica, Melanie
WOW!!! Those pictures are absolutely stunning. I love the red in the rocks. Utah. I’ve been hearing some great things lately, is Utah also part of “Four Corners”?
An infant in a backpack! That does not seem safe at all! I hope it was a backpack on the parent’s front? The colours here are gorgeous, reminds me of my time at the Grand Canyon (which was also a nerve wracking hike!)
Nope it was a backpack but either way. Angel’s Landing is an acceptable hike with a kid in a backpack. It’s one thing if you fall and its just yourself its another to risk falling with your kid.
So beautiful! I love all the national parks in Utah. Angels Landing has to be one of my favorite hikes, even with it being scary! It makes it that much more adventurous!
It is on my list of favorite hikes. It is very scary but amazing.
Holy.. Yeah I don’t do scary stuff haha I’m just not very good at being scared and I wonder what I’m doing there so I decide not to embark on these adventures. That being said this is an epic hike
I often wonder what I am doing in the places I end up but I just keep pushing to see what my limits are.
Congrats!! What a hike!
Glad to hear that you make to the top at early morning. I´m sure the light, the fresh air and the color of the rockies were amazing!! I have never being in USA, but this year I read so many good blog posts about the Natural Parks around there, that we are considering put USA on our travel plans. And hiking Angels Landing at Zion would be on the top of the list!
Many of the US National Parks are really incredibly beautiful. The views and the colour in the rocks on this one really are striking and the neatly edged switchbacks made it look fairly easy and safe until you see how steep it is in that second to last photo, 1500 ft is quite a climb.
Parts of this trek really sound scary. You must be happy you made it. It looks gorgeous, I would definitely want to visit this place. How can anybody pick up a phone with views like this around you is something I don’t really understand. I think I saw a documentary about trail runner who ran through Zion Canyon (but don’t remember the name).
Awesome view! I really want to make it out to Utah’s National Park circuit. I’m so glad you mentioned the scary part and the mom turning back with her kids. I was going to ask if you thought I could bring my nephews. The most difficult hike for me was the Fitz Roy hike in Patagonia. It wasn’t so much as being scary as it was difficult, but the last few kilometers involves clawing your way up the mountain.
Looks like a beautiful place to hike and explore. The beauty of Utah is splendid for sure. Wow, I would never be taking kids that young up a steep hike like that, of course, i saw a couple with a 3 day old baby at Disney this week so who knows…
Those photos look incredible! Reminded us a bit of some of the scenery in southern Mongolia. Also reminded us a bit of the film 127 Hours (!)
Definitely want to hike Angel’s Landing as well when we visit the States next year.
Nice photos! I’ve been to Zion several times but have yet to conquer Angel’s Landing. Idk if I will ever try it though because I’m really scared of heights…at times. Maybe, someday I will. But I did love hiking The Narrows.
This sounds amazing! You’ve described it so well I almost felt like I was there. I’m not afraid of heights but I do get nervous hiking on high, narrow paths. This hike would be so worth it though…especially if I followed your lead and got us there early before the hoards.
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