Getting to the top

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As you enter Zion Canyon, mouth agape and awestruck at the mammoth rising walls of rock above you, it’s hard to fathom anything more fantastic. Following the Virgin River, which can be credited with carving out the amazing sights around you, the park road snakes up the canyon to some of the most unique hiking trails you can find in this area. Some people are in it for the toughest hike they can find, while others just want to see the pretty views. If you’re like me, you want both. And Angel’s Landing will give you plenty of column A and more of column B than you could ever want.

You can take the park shuttle and hop off at The Grotto trailhead, taking the West Rim Trail toward Angel’s Landing. Staring up at the rock walls, you follow the trail with your eyes and realize you’re in for a climb right from the start. The narrow trail takes you around the edge of a quickly deepening chasm to your right before it switches back, taking you higher. You then come to a series of switchbacks that leave your legs burning as you search for any shade to stop and cool down.

Shade and cool temperatures await you as you turn into Refrigerator Canyon. A nice break from the sun and the steep grade, this canyon has high walls and some narrow passages. Just when you started enjoying the flat ground you come upon Walter’s Wiggles, a series of tight switchbacks that take you to the upper ridge of the canyon. You’ll want a little rest after this, which you can take very soon at Scout’s Lookout. Here you can see Angel’s Landing stretching out over the canyon.

Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. A chain weaves its way up a steep section of rock in front of you, leading you along the last section of the trail. You will follow this chain over narrow fins where you can see deep into the canyon on either side. If you’re at all scared of heights, you probably shouldn’t look down. Or up. Or to your sides. You scramble over large boulders, inch your way along narrow footpaths, and push your way up steep climbs until the end is in sight.

The final fin of Angel’s Landing stretches out in front of you, sporting a single tree in the center of the path. This leads to the highest point at 1500 feet above the canyon floor, and the most breathtaking view in the park. You see the Virgin River and the entire canyon laid out before you. This is where you sit and take it in. Take out your sandwich and your trail mix and kick back. The rocks are comfortable, and the sun feels nice while you’re relaxing.