Angel's Landing hike
Duration: 4 hours
Date: 29 Aug 2014
Distance: 5 miles out and back
Difficulty: Easy -> Moderate (Has steep uphill and parts of exposed climbing by holding chains)
Elevation Gain: ~1500 feet in 2.5 miles
Trail: Angel’s landing trail
Trailhead: Grotto picnic area in Zion Canyon
Best time to visit: Evening or early morning. It’s very hot in Zion during summer
This hike was part of the long weekend we spent in Zion & Bryce canyons over the Labor Day, long weekend. The group consisted of Ang, Evan, Sridhar and I. We reached Zion NP Friday by noon and decided to first get water shoes for the Narrows backpacking over the next two days. After getting that done we decided to finish Angel’s landing hike. Thanks to Ang’s plan of doing this hike on Friday, we avoided the holiday season crowd. It was already 5 pm by the time we reached the trailhead – we had to take the Zion NP shuttle to the trailhead as personal vehicles weren’t allowed on that road owing to both the size of crowd and the lack of parking space along all the bus stops in the park.
Having got to the trailhead at 5pm and the last shuttle being 8:15pm, we did not have any other choice but to hike up to Angel’s landing and back quickly. We started to hike up the completely paved trail at a 3+miles per hour pace. Although it was hot the temperature was bearable and was also getting cooler towards sunset. The cloud formations and the sunlight just created masterpieces of the canyons in and around us. Climbing up into canyon, soon we were battling the steep switchbacks. Reduced inclination and end of switchbacks were no where in sight but the canyon views and the dire need to get to the top soon kept me trudging along the trail. After some hiking we started moving into the side of the mountain which meant we weren’t privy to the canyon landscape anymore. It was a steep valley on one side and a lot of switchbacks on the other.
When we got to the top of the first hill that we could see, we got to witness the gorgeous sight of vast canyons and miniature buses driving along at the bottom of the valley. It was indeed so beautiful that I thought about spending a lot of time there. When you turn around to look at the peak you can see that there is still a lot of hiking left to be completed. The path from here on climbs high and through completely exposed dangerous sections with only steel chains lined all the way giving you the stability and support – both mentally and physically. The fauna changes rapidly with little plants and trees going up. Cuts in the rocks remind me of the sheer power the water just has over rocks providing the birth to canyons and deep valleys.
We reached the top quite quickly - ~1hr for the entire hike of 2.5miles with around 1500 ft of elevation gain and slow traversals across exposed regions. After spending a while at the top and also witnessing the “golden” hour as photographers call it, we decided to start the journey down towards the trailhead. Coming down wasn’t that big of an issue and we reached the bus stop well in time for probably the 3rd last bus from The Grotto towards the village.
We went to our campsites prepping to go to bed early for an early start towards the trailhead for the narrows – backpacking trip next day!