Beautiful Zion — Conquering Angels’ Landing

Beautiful Zion — Conquering Angels’ Landing

Beautiful Zion — Conquering Angels’ Landing
Angels Landing is one of the most visited destinations in Zion National Park. Parts of the half-mile section of the trail starting at Scout Lookout are less than three-feet wide and have chains to hold. But the views are worth the work and the top is a great place to celebrate a wedding anniversary. (Kevin Parker photo)

Kevin Parker(Oct. 28, 2023) — After a long drive, we felt like we’d struck it rich in the high desert of Utah and our bounty wasn’t silver or gold, but rather a coveted hiking permit to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.

Visiting ZNP requires a fee to enter and during the busy summer months, park access is via shuttle bus only. ZNP is under 150,000 acres, small by National Park Standards, but the scenery inside the boundary’s packs quite a visual punch. Vermillion, white and orange rock can be seen in every direction with the speckles of greenery and monuments looking over you as if in a naturistic trance.

Plan in advance to get a permit to Angel’s Landing or take your chances on the day before lottery. Visit and pay a non-refundable fee of $6 to enter the lottery with $3 per person charge if selected – well worth the price of admission.

Trip tips for Angel’s Landing. Plan to leave early to beat the heat and minimize your chances of getting caught in a thunderstorm. Carry ample water and sunscreen, and to avoid summer crowds visit off season and mid-week–no joking here.

The Narrows

Kevin Parker photo.

We already had plans to hike “The Narrows”, a trek up the North Fork of the Virgin River with 90% of the trail in knee to waste deep water but bagging both of these hikes on a three-day visit was a bonus.

From the Grotto Trailhead at Shuttle Stop 6, take the hiker’s bridge over the Virgin River and follow the West Rim Trail which begins as a semi-paved route that slowly crawls up the canyon shelf. Expect a series of steep switchbacks known as “Walter’s Wiggles” that propel you up in elevation. The trail has exposed and shady sections and was busy even during mid-week.

At Scout’s Lookout the difficulty factor goes bananas as your first steps begin with metal posts and chain that will accompany you most of the way to the top. Perched on exposed rock high above the valley floor is not for everyone, but it sure was for us as we celebrated our 21st Wedding Anniversary. Expect to be climbing up rocks, on top of roots, through cracks and along a very windy and fully exposed spine of a trail that does nothing to pretend it’s easy. But alas, the slow and sure-footed shall prevail as we saw all ages and fitness levels tackling this trail. You actually cannot appreciate what you are really climbing on until you view Angel’s Landing from a distance. Reminiscent of a stegosaurus backbone, I cannot imagine hiking this trail without the aid of chains or a spirit for adventure.

Enjoy the view

Kevin Parker photo.

Once up top, we sat in a few spots to enjoy the views in every direction. Be aware the top of Angel’s Landing is very exposed and there are few to no places to escape lightning or heavy rains, not to mention that descending is a slow process.

Once back near the trailhead, Zion treated us to flash flood rains that transformed the entire valley into a series of cascading waterfalls coming from the cliffs high above. As quickly as it came, the passing of the rains diminished the waterfalls as well, but what a treat.

We stayed in Springdale, Utah at Flanigan’s Resort, don’t miss the breakfast at Oscars and try the Wild Game Meatloaf at the Spotted Dog Café.

Angel’s Landing (ZNP)

  • Trails: West Rim Trail, Angel’s ­Landing Trail
  • Trailhead: The Grotto, Shuttle Stop #6
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Time: 3.5 hours

Get out there. Kevin Parker has been sharing his love for the outdoors in the Pioneer for almost 20 years. Send comments and questions to