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Angel's Landing


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Angel's Landing is not only the iconic Zion hike. It's one of the most famous hikes in North America and the World. But it has to be approached cautiously. If you are the least bit sensitive to heights, you need to avoid this hike. If you're not sure footed, that is if you habitually trip over tree roots and uneven sidewalks, you need to avoid this hike.

Angel's Landing is not really a hike at all. It's only 2.5 miles up from the bottom. But you gain 1500 feet in that distance.

You begin at The Grotto Trailhead and hike up a tree shaded slash. The middle part is the famous Walter's Wiggles (see photo below), a grueling set of 21 switchbacks that will leave you gasping for breath before you even start the final segment.

That final segment begins with the dizzying trail shown at left. That drop off is 2000 ft. straight down.

People die here. Every year. The latest was a 19 year old girl who fell to her death last November.

The Emerald Pools Observation Point Angel's Landing West Rim East Mesa The East Rim Y

The most challenging part of the hike is the Razor's Edge, a knife edge with 2000 feet cliffs on both sides. Many hikers drop to their hands and knees to cross this section.

Study the top right photo. You can see hikers on the trail. The Razor's Edge is that far section, just before the top.

The park service has installed strong chains for you to hold onto, and you'll need them.

Your ideal footware for this hike will be a pair of shoes that grip the rocks. Many people put their backpacking boots aside and use climbing shoes or basketball shoes, as long as the tread on the bottom is not worn smooth.

Do not attempt this hike after a rain. The rocks must be dry for your feet to get a grip.

At the top of Walter's Wiggles the trail pauses on a wide, level, sandy terrace called Scout Lookout. If you're not up for the hair raising scramble out to Angel's Landing, this would be a nice hike itself. The views are stunning.

This hike has become so popular crowds are becoming unmanageable. Hikers are coming from around the nation and the world to add this to their bucket list. The Park Service is considering a permit system to limit the number of hikers up there at one time. Since the trail, especially the Razor's Edge section, is too narrow to allow two hikers to pass, having several hundred people up there at one time is becoming dangerous. We recommend hiking it on a weekday in the morning. Try to start the hike no later than 9 a.m.

Since you're totally exposed to the Sun here, you have to bring a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses. But both should have a strap. It is dangerous not to. The breeze will be tugging at your hat, and maneuvering on the rocks may cause sunglasses to slip off. Park rangers suspect that many of the people who fell to their deaths were reaching for falling hats or sunglasses instead of holding onto the chains or rocks.

From Scout Lookout to the actual Angel's Landing is another 500 feet of climb, as seen at left.

Fortunately, there are a few places where you can step to the side and rest or catch your breath, letting faster hikers pass on the way up, or letting those coming in the opposite direction go on by.

The actual Angel's Landing is an oval rock platform with stubborn pinion pines grimly hanging onto precarious niches. Hikers who make it out here tend to stay awhile, resting for their dizzying return along the Razor's Edge. It's a great plaee for a drink, a sandwich an apple or some other snack. But Be Careful. The Rock Chipmunks who live here have become amazingly quick and clever at stealing those snacks. If you lay it down, even at your feet, it'll disappear in a second.

For some bizarre reason, hikers like to stack rocks to make decorative cairns, as you can see in the photo at right. Do Not Do This. It detracts from the "wilderness experience" hikers after you will find. The Park Service even defines it as a mild form of vandalism.

The view is incredible, a 360 degree expanse of cliffs, peaks, crags and, far below, the river and the road. When you look down the road looks empty. But through a good pair of binoculars you see cars and shuttle buses. It is not possible to get a good photograph of this place without a fish eye lens or a drone. There's too much on all sides.

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