Do-if-You-Dare: Angel's Landing
It hasn't even been a month since our epic Utah road trip, but our minds are still reeling from the insane beauty we found out there. From camping alongside these crazy cool Navajo monuments and hitting up five (count 'em FIVE) National Parks, to hiking in waist deep water in The Narrows and exploring the state's famed Delicate Arch, somewhere along our 14-day trip we became totally and completely smitten (pause for annoying fangirl moment).
To say southern Utah is beautiful is a massive understatement: vermillion cliffs tower overhead, turquoise water runs in sinuous paths, the undulating backs of giant mountains rise and fall in the distance. Everywhere you look, there's something captivating your attention.
But out of the dozens of "you shouldda been there" moments Matt and I have talked about with our family and friends, Angel's Landing, the famed hike in Zion National Park, sits high on the top of our lists. Here are 14 photos that will make you want to hop on a plane and tackle this hike STAT.
Seriously, after the spine tingling ascent (and the serious SWACK), we're going to go out on a limb here and say this may just be one of the best views in southern Utah.
So, yeah. This hike isn't for the faint of heart (or the out of shape). Here's a look at what the "easy" part of the trail looks like starting from the bus stop.
Zion calls these switchbacks "Walter's Wiggles" and, we'll be honest here, they're a pain in the ass (literally).
Matt and I tend to plan our hikes basked on the level of will-I-die-or-not ascents. (Yes, we have problems.) Though Angel's Landing is nowhere near the stupidest thing we've done on our travels, the hike is still pretty intense. These chains are there to assist hikers during the climb up to the top of Angel's Landing. And they're really the only assurance that you won't plummet to your death.
If this view doesn’t already tickle your fancy enough to hop on the next flight to Utah, the view from the top of this giant rock staircase will. If you only do one activity in Zion, let this be the one.
Don't let my fresh face fool you. I'm sweaty, I'm out of breath and I'm just a little hangry.
Part of the fun of the Angel's Landing hike is the stomach-droppingview downward. There's about a two-to-three-foot wide rock path that requires a strong stomach, good balance and nerves of steel.
This photo gives you an idea of scale - look how small the hikers are!
This is one of my personal favorite shots. See how the chain has eroded away bits of the rock?
Because Angel's Landing is one of the most popular hikes in Zion, we highly recommend grabbing the first park shuttle and hiking to the top for sunrise. There will be fewer crowds and greater opportunity for you to take in the great views of the park.
Don't look down! If you're really good you might be able to spot the teeny tiny shuttle bus down there on the road. (Note: you cannot drive to this section of the park. You must take one of the park shuttles to gain access to this hike.)
A note to any hiker - always travel with the essentials. Mine include an Ogami notebook, pen, Canon DSLR, Nalgene, Merrell hiking shoes and my Clik Elite camera bag. Matt always has his Canon 5d Mark III, a tripod, his Merrell hiking shoes, F-stop camera bag, Nalgene, iPhone and, oftentimes, his Go Puck.
Who's afraid of falling off a cliff? Not this girl!
How we did it:
If you're a first-timer or have only a few hours to spend in Zion, Angel's Landing may offer the best views in the shortest amount of time. No day permit is required, and the hike will take anywhere from 1.5 to 5 hours roundtrip (depending on how long you decide to hang out at the top).
Depending on time of day and your hiking ability, this hike can be pretty strenuous, as you're ascending roughly 1,500 feet. There is relatively no shade during the hike, so bring plenty of water and don't hike during midday. Remember that you can hike in as far as you feel comfortable with the option to turn back at any time and leave the way you came.