A few years ago, Cheryl and I took a trip to Utah to do some camping and hiking. We where at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon visiting the gift shop when I saw the shirt below. As I looked at the shirt, I realized we had done all the hikes listed except for one....Angels Landing. The shirt said it was in Zions National Park, which we had not planned to visit. I quickly bought a shirt for both of us and headed to the truck. As we walked, I told Cheryl there was about to be a detour in our travel plans. She said why and I glanced back and said "So we can wear our new shirts!!"
We did some quick planning, packed up the truck and headed West. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is not far from Zions National Park. We went thru Kanab, Utah, loaded up with provisions (mostly beer!) and proceed to try and find a campsite closer to the park. We ending up staying at a BLM campground outside of Zions and rested for our adventure the next day.
Get In Line
We woke up early and headed to the park. The temperature was suppose to be hot and we wanted to make it back down from Angels Landing before the afternoon heat. Since it was our first time to Zions, we didn't know how the parking and shuttle service worked. We arrived at about 7:30am and there was already a line about 5oo feet deep. We quickly got in line in what felt like Disneyland waiting for a ride. In line, Cheryl was looking at the trail guide and noticed that Angels Landing had a rating of "Difficult" It was the only trail in Zions with this rating. She gave me a "Are you sure you want to do this?" look and after a couple minutes of silence I told her it would be fine. How hard could it possibly be, right? Well, we would find out in a short couple of hours.
West Rim Trail
Finally, we made it to a shuttle and headed up the Canyon. 6 stops later at the Grotto, we got off the shuttle and topped off our water bottles. This part of the trail is called the West Rim Trail. The hike is 2.4. miles one way if you go all the way out to The Landing. The elevation gain is roughly 1500 feet. The first 1000 feet or so are fairly flat but it quickly gains altitude. You start to understand the difficult rating when you see the switchbacks. The picture below is from the top looking down at the switch backs. The small dots are hikers making their way up.
At the top of the switchbacks there is a sign at Walters Wiggles. You can continue along the West Rim trail or take a right onto the Angels Landing trail and go out to the point. If you are afraid of heights, this part of the hike is not for you.
Angels Landing Cable Pulls
We started working our way up the trail and soon came upon a cable attached into the rock. This is for holding on to as you make your way up and across the narrow trail leading out to a small landing. I was a little afraid of how Cheryl was going to traverse this, but she made it with no problem. I was sure glad I remembered to bring my gloves as they came in handy on the cable pulls. The video below is Cheryl on the last of the 4 or 5 cable pulls. Don't mind the camera person huffing and puffing!!!
The Summit View
The view at the end of the trail is spectacular. The pictures we took don't do it justice. We stayed out on the landing and had a short lunch before heading back down. It was closing in on 100 degrees at this point, so we headed back before it got much hotter.
What Goes Up Must Come Down!
I don't know what was more fatiguing, going up or down. On the way up, I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. My muscles where fine but my wind endurance was not. It's so steep, that on the way down my knees and calves started to fatigue and cramp. I stopped multiple times going down and thought it was just as hard as going up. We saw a couple hikers going up that were not prepared and warned them of the heat and exposure at the top. We finally made it back to the truck, where the beer was ice cold.
Angels Landing is the highlight of my hiking career. It's steep, diverse, challenging and very rewarding at the top. I would do it again given the chance and hope that is in the near future. Please comment below if you have hiked Angels Landing and if not, let us know what your favorite hike has been.
Brent & Cheryl Conklin
Whiskey 7 Backroads