Angels Landing- Communing with Angels
From the Anasazi to the Paiute to European explorers, Zion has always been an oasis for those that enter its canyon. Within the boundaries of Southern Utah’s dry desert Zion is a sanctuary, the name meaning “promised land” evokes its significance.
“A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man-made church – this is Zion.”-Behunin
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With such rich history and majestic views, we set out to visit Zion National Park. We planned on staying in Southern Utah for two nights. The first night we stayed on BLM land, we found a perfect already established free camping spot past Zion Ponderosa Resort. Follow the dirt road [N Fork County Rd] for about 15 minutes/4.2 miles after having passed the entrance of Zion Ponderosa. The spot will be on your left hand side (37.312330, -112.857971). We stayed there the first night to save money and avoid the crowded camping grounds. (TIP: BLM land is free to stay on). If you plan on staying at a paid camping ground during the summer season, make sure you have a reservation as it can get very busy.
The next morning, we woke up early packed everything up and headed to Angels Landing so we could beat the heat. In order to drive through the park there is a $30 fee, the pass lasts for 7 days and gives you entrance to Zion National Park and Kolob Canyon [We bought the National parks pass for $80 to get us into any National Park for a year]. Once in the park you will board a free shuttle bus that will take you to the trail head for Angels Landing.
We entered at the trailhead at the Grotto Picnic area and began to make our way uphill. True to the name from 1,488 ft. below the skyscraping point of Angels Landing it seems that only a heavenly winged being could stand atop such a mountain.
The first 2 miles of the hike are paved and well-maintained with steady elevation gain as the trail ascend a series of switchbacks up the West Rim Trail.
After warming up on the West Rim Trail switch backs you pass through the refreshing one mile Refrigerator Canyon which is hidden from the sun and offers cool breezes rustling through the canyon.
Now that you’ve cooled off in the canyon you are ready for some serious elevation gain, before reaching the first plateau you must ascend Walter’s Wiggles. It consists of twenty-one sharp zigzags carved into the face of the mountain that spill out onto Scout Lookout.
From Scout Lookout you will have stunning views of the canyon below. Getting to this part was relatively safe and “easy” if you can survive the elevation gain. This is where most people will turn around. Beyond this point is where the Angels Landing trail begins. It is only about a half-mile to the top from Scout Lookout but it is a strenuous and treacherous half-mile. [Do not do in the dark or in poor weather]
As you navigate across the Narrow sandstone [3 feet/1 meter in width in areas] there are sheer cliffs on both sides. The trail drops 1200’ on your left and 800’ on your right.
Throughout the trail you’ll find chains alongside the cliff, hold onto them! Be smart while hiking, several people have died on this trail- don’t be one of them! If you go during a high traffic time expect to have long wait times as the trail is only one way and not wide enough for safe crossing.
After a few inclines you will reach the summit. Take a seat and breath in the majestic surroundings. As you look into the canyons one quickly recognizes that the word Zion meaning “Promised Land” rightly fits this place.
Feeling as if we could commune with the heavens we stayed on Angels Landing for over an hour taking in the serene surroundings.
We took a plethora of pictures to document the moment. Between our DSLR’s and phones we ran out of battery. Luckily though we had been charging our portable ENERPLEX GENERATR 100 Battery with our COMMANDR 20 SOLAR PANELS that were attached to our hiking backpack. So by the time we reached the top we could charge our batteries allowing us to get all the shots and videos we needed!
There were moments when some people in our group wanted to turn around, but they were promised it would be worth the effort. In one of their own words or lack of words, “Whoa……*silence for 5 minutes*”
-Hike Early to beat the sun
-Drink Lots of Water on the way up
-Take breaks, there is no rush
-Bring gloves on a hot day if you have to grab the chains
-Plan for 5 hours of hiking
-Do not do in poor weather
-Descend before the sunsets