Angels Landing stands out as one of the most famous and exhilarating hikes in Zion National Park, if not in the entire United States. The trail to Angels Landing is as breathtaking as it is challenging, offering an adventure that tests both physical stamina and mental fortitude. The hike is known for its steep switchbacks, narrow paths, and sheer cliffs, all leading to a reward that is truly unmatched – a 360-degree panoramic view of Zion Canyon.
Angel’s landing is a 4.3-mile out-and-back trail that starts at the Grotto Trailhead and ascends 1,488 feet in elevation. While this may not seem too daunting at first glance, it’s important to note that the trail is rated as strenuous and should only be attempted by experienced hikers.
Starting up Angel’s Landing
The hike begins with a paved path that leads to Refrigerator Canyon, a cool and shady area surrounded by towering sandstone walls. After this initial section, the real challenge begins with Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks that require hikers to zigzag up the side of the mountain. This section, while physically demanding, builds anticipation for the final and most thrilling part of the hike – the Hogsback. Here, the path narrows significantly, with steep drop-offs on either side. Chains have been installed along this section for added safety, but the sense of exposure is very real and incredibly exhilarating.
Once hikers reach the top of Angels Landing, they are greeted with a stunning view that is truly unparalleled. The feeling of accomplishment and awe is indescribable, making it well worth the challenging journey to get there. However, it’s important to always exercise caution when exploring Angels Landing and adhere to all safety precautions put in place by park rangers.
Permits are required to hike Angels Landing and can be obtained at the Zion National Park Visitor Center. It’s advisable to start early in the morning to avoid crowds and extreme temperatures, as well as to allow enough time for the hike back down.
In addition to its natural beauty, Angels Landing also holds cultural significance as it was named by Frederick Fisher, a Methodist minister who compared the narrow path to the final ascent to heaven. The trail was also designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987, recognizing its significance and preserving it for future generations to experience.
Preparation and Safety on the Trail
Angels Landing is not a hike for everyone. It requires a good level of physical fitness, and due to the steep drop-offs, it is not recommended for those with a significant fear of heights. The trail can be especially challenging during inclement weather conditions, such as high winds or rain, which can make the path slippery and more dangerous.
To ensure a safe and enjoyable hike, preparation is key:
- Start Early: Begin your hike early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and the crowds. This also allows more time to navigate the trail at a comfortable pace.
- Carry Sufficient Water: The arid climate and physical exertion mean you will need plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Wear Appropriate Gear: Sturdy hiking boots with good grip are essential, as the trail can be rocky and uneven. Consider bringing gloves for the chain section for added grip.
- Be Mindful of the Edge: Always stay on the trail and be cautious near the cliff edges, especially at the summit, where it can be crowded.
- Check the Weather: Before setting out, check the weather forecast. Avoid the trail in adverse weather conditions.
Angels Landing offers one of the most unforgettable hiking experiences in Zion National Park. The combination of physical challenge, nerve-testing heights, and the unparalleled views from the top make it a bucket-list item for many hikers. The sense of accomplishment upon reaching the summit, coupled with the stunning vistas of Zion’s rugged landscape, make Angels Landing a truly unique and rewarding adventure.