Scenic USA - Utah

Angels Landing

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Angels Landing View - Zion National Park, Utah

Photo by Rob Jones
Rob's Wilderness Vagabond Trip Reports
Inset photos by Scott Dommin and Alex Proimos

     Zion National Park, covering 232 square miles of remote terraces and narrow gorges, is crisscrossed with more than Angels Landing - Zion Canyon National Park, Utah 90 miles of wilderness trails. While Zion's backcountry invites visitors to explore larger and more remote sections of the park, most park guests head to Zion Canyon where 15 miles of paved pathways allow visitor to sightsee with ease. Most of the canyon experiences in the Southwest offer overhead views of most famous canyon sites, but Zion is much different. Actually in the canyon itself, The Narrows hike allows visitors to experience the narrow gorge from the bottom looking up. Where sunlight rarely shines, Zion Canyon has many great reasons for its popularity.
     Zion's shuttle bus service eases congestion and pollution in canyon during the park's busiest times of the year. Running as often as every seven minutes, one of the bus stops along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is the Grotto. Here at the Grotto a footbridge crosses the North Fork Virgin River and leads to two canyon trails. The southern choice, Kayenta Trail, heads toward two side canyons and the Emerald Pool trails. The other choice, on the West Rim Trail, offers a bird's eye view of Zion Canyon. A 14 mile strenuous route leads all the way to the highest point in Zion National Park, Lava Point. The entire trail, Angels Landing Final Ascent - Zion Canyon National Park, Utah with an overall elevation gain of over 3000 feet, is usually more than a one day trip, requiring a backcountry permit for an overnight stay. Initially, climbing up out of the canyon is the first challenge. Rewards are quick, and within a mile canyon points along the rim come into view, such as this marvelous view from a trail spur at Angels Landing. Across the chasm, bathed in a veil of rain, stands a 6700 foot majestic monolith, the Great White Throne.
     The Angels Landing Trail is one of the most famous hikes in Zion, rivaling The Narrows Gorge. Saving the best for last, the finale of Angels Landing has hikers climbing a narrow rock fin with drop-offs on both sides. Aided by a chain handrail, climbers pull themselves to the top of this lofty perch about 1500 feet above the canyon floor. Highly discouraged for those with a fear of heights, Angels Landing is a classic hike in Zion Canyon, and one of the most thrilling in the National Parks System.

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