Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 5, 2012

Angel’s Landing, Zion NP

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


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