Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 5, 2012

Angel’s Landing, Zion NP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:10 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Four-fifths of the way up to the 1488-foot Angel’s Landing summit.
White vehicle on canyon floor is the public shuttle bus.

Every once in a while, the need for new scenery grows large and a three-day weekend affords a chance for an exotic getaway. Chris and I decided to head to Cedar Breaks National Monument, in the southwest corner of Utah, to explore a place new to us both. A month of daily rain contributed to a mudslide on our last road, however, requiring a route change; Zion National Park was an excellent fallback.

The switchbacks that take you up, up, interminably up to Angel’s Landing.

If there is one iconic hike for which Zion is known, it’s the two-hour ascent to Angel’s Landing: up 21 tight switchbacks called “Walter’s Wiggles,” past the acrophobic dozens waiting on the safe side of the iron-chained portion of the route, then a perilous scramble along a skinny ridge that resembles the plates on a stegosaurus. Dizzying drop-offs on both sides (1200′ and 800′) plunge to the canyon floor in sheer verticality. Six fatalities have happened on this trail since 2004, which may be why there seems to be much more protective chain in place than the last time I hiked it in 1996.

One works hard to earn the summit and its incomparable views of the entire Zion Canyon. The sweet flute-like song of a Canyon Wren will often lure you up the path, parts of which (Refrigerator Canyon) are pleasantly shaded in the morning hours.

Summit views, incredibly beautiful, reward intrepid hikers who reach the final landing. 

Angels indeed might touch the earth here, but today it was an assortment of sweaty happy individuals who kindly took each other’s photo and beat a hasty retreat before approaching monsoons got any closer. This hike is one of the most famous in the entire national park system; I hope you’ll leave a comment if you have any first-hand memories of it.



  1. Sounds like it was a great belated birthday hike for you!

    Comment by Kathleen Holck — August 6, 2012 @ 3:59 am | Reply

  2. Great hike up and even better descent after climbing Moonlight Buttress. We were lucky enough to have some hikers share their water with us since after two nights on the wall we had run out.

    Comment by Edward Oak — August 6, 2012 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

    • Running out of water is enough to make ANY hike memorable. Glad it ended well…

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — August 7, 2012 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  3. This is one of my husband’s favorite hikes. He does it at some point almost every time we get to Zion (he opted not to hike it last year, only because he was recovering from a bike/car encounter).

    Comment by Andrea — August 15, 2012 @ 7:27 am | Reply

  4. I remember when we stayed at zion… I must have been 14 then. You wanted me to wake up far earlier than my teenage body would accommodate in order to hike Angel’s Landing.

    Comment by Evan — August 18, 2012 @ 10:38 am | Reply

    • At least you were there to hear me wax rapturously about it afterward. Glad for our adventures. Some day, Evan…

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — August 18, 2012 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  5. I finally did AL just last week, on my 4th trip to Zion, with my son’s girlfriend. We were on the first shuttle bus into the park and took a somewhat leisurely pace to the summit. So by the time we got up there, everyone had begun their descent and we had the place to ourselves for a little while. A nice way to start the day.

    Comment by Ron Carroll — October 23, 2012 @ 6:21 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: