Angels Afoot

You can’t mention hiking in Zion without bringing up Angels Landing. It’s one of the most popular— and…

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You can’t mention hiking in Zion without bringing up Angels Landing. It’s one of the most popular— and hair-raising—hikes in the park. Hang out at any café or restaurant and you’re bound to overhear a conversation about how far someone got on Angels Landing. Why? Well, the final stretch has 1,000-foot drop-offs where the “trail” consists of chains bolted to the rock. Sound fun? Then get an early start, bring plenty of water, and don’t forget your camera. Start at the Grotto trailhead, cross a bridge over the Virgin River, then get a head-on view of Angels Landing. It’s quite a spectacular setting in the middle of Zion Canyon under the shadow of The Great White Throne—a 6,744-foot-tall sandstone mountain that’s often the symbol of Zion. A gradual ascent turns more strenuous as it switchbacks up the canyon wall to Refrigerator Canyon. Catch your breath here before starting the 21 short and steep zigzagging switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles (named after the park’s first superintendent). After you squiggle the wiggles, it’s only a half-mile to the top. But what a half-mile it is! You’ll be hiking (with the assist of cables) on a narrow rock fin with steep drop-offs. The reward: superb 360-degree views of nearly all of Zion Canyon. And better restaurant banter.

Get off the Zion shuttle at the Grotto stop, cross the road, and follow the West Rim Trail up to Angels Landing. Get an early start to avoid crowds as there can be traffic jams on the narrowest chain and cable sections. Make sure you wear proper footwear. Not recommended for people who don’t have a head for heights. No dogs. Photo by jiashiang.

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