Climbing to Angel’s Landing

Angel’s Landing (formerly known as the Temple of  Aeolus) is a tall narrow tongue of rock with practically sheer cliffs on three sides standing more than 360m (1208 ft) above the valley floor in Zion National Park.

The trail to Angel’s Landing is only 3.9km (2.4 mi) long, but climbs so steeply that one section had to be carved out of solid rock. The last part of the trail rises steeply while skirting the edge of a 1000 ft sheer cliff. There is no guardrail. The park admits to five fatalities on the trail, though others have been reported.

I visited Zion in September 2012 with my girlfriend Emilie and our friend Danielle. We knew we had to climb to Angel’s Landing. It has been said to be one of the most spectacular trails in the world.

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (1)

The trailhead is located at The Grotto drop off for the park’s shuttle bus service (few cars allowed in the park). The trail immediately crosses the Virgin River. I had to take a photo of it.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (2)

It had rained heavily the previous day, and the river turned muddy with the distinctive orange sand that Zion is known for. It looked silky and delicious — like thick chocolate milk.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (3)

At first the trail climbs slowly from the Virgin River, as can be seen in this photo from above.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (4)

Then it hits the mountainside and begins to climb steeply. At first the paved pathway snakes back and forth across the ever-steepening cliff. Then it becomes too steep for even for switchbacks, and the trail becomes stairs.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (5)

At the top of the stairway is Scout Lookout. This is where those who don’t want to cross the final exposed stretch of trail to Angel’s Landing wait. Danielle has never liked heights much, and decided to stay there.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (6)

Emilie also wasn’t feeling well (we had a few drinks around the campfire the night before) so she started the hike with me to see if she wanted to do it. This was the first stretch of exposed trail we crossed. It was also probably one of the most dangerous on the hike.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (7)

The view of the canyon from the other side was great — so we asked some guy to take our photo. Then Emilie turned back and I went on alone.
Angel's Landing Zion National Park (8)

This is what the trail looked like.
Angel's Landing Zion National Park (9)

And this is what it looked like while climbing.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (10)

Here is the view looking back at Scout Lookout from high on the trail.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (11)

Near the summit a turn in the trail offers a perfect view of Big Bend below.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (12)

And then you reach the top plateau. Here’s a couple dangling their legs into the abyss.

 

Angel's Landing Zion National Park (13)

And here’s what you’ve been waiting for — a view fit for angels.

 

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40 thoughts on “Climbing to Angel’s Landing”

  1. Gorgeous!! My brother just did this hike actually. Even though I love taking weekend trips, Zion has somehow alluded me in all of these years (off and on) living in the southwest. I need to change that.

    Reply
    • Really? You do have to check it out once. There are so many awesome parks around there, though, that I’m sure it’s easy to skip. It’s epic for sure, but it’s also super touristy, which is kind of a put-off.

      Reply
  2. Congratulations! You did it! We were in Zion this past September, but I have a problem with heights and after seeing the warning sign of how many people had died attempting Angel’s Landing since 2008, we decided that hike wasn’t for us. Instead we hiked Observation Point, just across from Angel’s Landing, which was pretty spectacular too. Actually, I thought Zion was a pretty amazing park!

    Reply
  3. Beautiful pictures. Can’t wait for the day until I can get out and do some hiking that way. But I think that I will have to bypass that trail. Yikes.

    Reply
  4. There are many great hikes in Zion and its sister canyon, Kolob.

    Can you believe I hiked to Angel’s Landing with a Black Lab? Long time ago… 1978. The dog was pretty tired but she didn’t have any trouble, really. These pix make me wonder how we did it…

    Thanks!

    Reply
  5. G’day Matt,

    Just wanted to say thanks for stoping so much to take photos of your cool hike to share with us. I’m glad your better half got to enjoy some of the climb and the pinnacle through your photos like the rest of us.

    Cheers,
    Simon

    Reply
  6. Somebody said they hiked this with their dog? Is that possible? We are planning on going to Zion’s this weekend and want to hike it, but we will have our lab/beagle mix with us.

    Reply
    • I don’t remember exactly. But since they were with a long depth of field and it was crazy bright out, I probably used a high aperture (8 minimum, but probably higher) and adjusted the shutter speed to one stop below the camera recommended speed to avoid blowing out the sky.

      Reply
  7. Can you talk about the difficulty of the last stretch of the hike? My husband and I are planning on this hike this summer on a camping trip through Moab, Zion, and Grand Canyon. I’m not the best with heights, but last year we did the Half Dome hike and I did fine on the cables to the summit. Thanks! The pictures are beautiful.

    Reply
  8. I have been there done that. Your photos and narrative capture the spirit of the hike exactly as I remember. Great job. For anyone even thinking about this hike it’s definitely a must do. Again GREG at job on your photography.

    Reply
  9. i have hiked this trail twice.. first time I was 65 and the second time 3 years ago at age 75.. it is a wonderful hike but I like the one to Observation Point just as much, if not more since it is so much easier. I have hiked it twice in the last 6 years. The views from both trails are absolutely spectacular! Thank. you for sharing your fantastic pictures.

    Reply
  10. I completed this hike with a fractured foot in 2009. It was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. Zion narrows is on my list too. Definitely gonna go back for that.

    Reply
  11. I hiked the trail about a year ago and it was awesome! We just bought a house in Arizona and wanted to use one of your pictures to make a wall hanging. Can we buy it from you?

    Reply

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