My Hike Up Angel's Landing
Written by: Marc Young
It was two days after Thanksgiving when we made our trek up Angel’s Landing. For those of you that don’t know, Angel’s Landing is a really cool hike that follows this protruding spine of a mountain 1700 feet up, in the heart of Zion National Park. It's steep, it's narrow, and it's breathtaking. One of the most famous hikes in the US, it is a must do in Zion, and a featured experience in our National Parks tour. This is what brought me on location; we were scouting it out to experience it firsthand.
And boy, was it worth it.
Having just spent the previous night stargazing on the roof of my car in the park, I was already enamored with the beauty of Zion and was very excited for this adventure. I had only heard stories of the heart-pounding adventure to this point, and my traveling companions (Aimee the wife and Tyler the friend) spent most of the night sharing thoughts about how spooky it might be.
As dawn cracked that day we made our way into the park. It is essential to do this hike early because it is one of the highest traffic-ridden trails in the US. To hike at a busy time means having to work around thousands of other people, something you wouldn’t want to do at a shopping mall let alone on the side of a cliff. By 6:45 AM we were waiting for the first shuttle, which took us promptly to the trailhead for 7 AM. (If anyone is wondering, I recommend getting an even EARLIER start, and trekking the 3-mile walk down the road to the trailhead for an earlier jump on the day), as there were still loads of people doing the hike.
And this is the offseason, people....wait until August when we are really out there.
The trail as a whole is 2.5 miles one way, 5 miles total. The first 2 miles we found to be physically quite basic. The path is paved and full of switchbacks, and although it climbs constantly it isn’t too much of a bother as it gives you a consistently more and more spectacular view of the canyon below. At the 2 mile mark you reach the true Angel's Landing hike, the spine you must traverse to make it the last half mile to the top. Here, many people stop and take in the views before simply turning around.
Angel’s landing is very intimidating, perhaps no more so than in that first moment as you stand at the start and look up at what you intend to climb.
Like the back of an old school stegosaurus, the spine just protrudes into the sky, narrow and dangerous.
What a thrill to see. Again, the less traffic the better so you can focus on the climb. Personal advice: take a deep breath, say a quick word to the big guy upstairs, and put one foot in front of the other ideally without looking down.
A lot of the trail has a chain to hold onto for increased safety. This was a tool we used often as we began to climb. Along the way we passed a variety of different people, with clear differing views on the hike. We passed a teenage girl in cahoots, refusing to budge as her dad tried to bribe her sense of adventure. We passed a grandmother who had done the hike many times and was taking her time getting to the top. We also passed many earlier risers on their way down, beaming with pride and a sense of wonder. These were the people that kept us moving on, because let’s be honest if they made it safely, so could we!
What we found along the way is that you never really feel a sense of danger. Rushes of adrenaline for sure, breathtaking views of course, and the occasional “OOOOOOOOHHHHHH SWEET JESUS” moment undoubtedly. But the hike feels safe, as long as you take your time and watch what you are doing.
By staying focused on the present you feel grounded, and when you look out over the beautiful National Park, you know why they have named it such. Zion. The sense of wonder that fills you on this climb is nearly indescribable. Heart pounding, nerves bursting with excitement and fear at the same time. It is a rush I have never gotten from any other hike I’ve ever done, for sure.
It isn’t just a hike, it’s a life experience and a right of passage to conquer that fear and keep going.
The top of the landing flattens out into a beautiful place to sit and have some PB and J, talk to other hikers, and snap a few pictures. You really do feel like you have conquered something bigger than yourself, and to look back at what was just climbed leaves a fantastic sense of pride. The way down is much faster, undoubtedly passing more people as the mountain gets busier.
Now, as you descend, it’s your turn to be the smiling enthusiast encouraging other climbers that they too can make it to the spot where the Angel’s land.
This hike was a life changer for sure, full of excitement every step of the way. I wore a GoPro on our hike so I could share some of the experience with all of you. Check out the video our media guy, Nolan, put together, a brief snapshot of the climb. It was an epic adventure, and one I can’t wait to do again in August on our National Parks tour.
Will you be joining us? The tour kicks off August 4th-11th, 2018 and all the info is right here.
Email me with questions, for more info, and a promo code: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Marc Young // Business Development at VoyEdge RX