Hello and welcome to my article on Angels Landing in Zion National Park. My name is Kortney Marshall (@kortellini). I’m a registered nurse living and working in New York City in a Neuro ICU. I grew up in central Wisconsin and didn’t really start traveling until after I graduated from college.
Working in this ICU, I see people who were walking and talking one day and the next have a ruptured aneurysm or a brain tumor and are never the same. Seeing people on the worst day of their lives has made me want to live my life to its fullest so I never look back and wish I had done more.
A few months into my nursing career in the Neuro ICU, I created a giant bucket list of places I wanted to see and things I wanted to do and I have been working on crossing these beautiful destinations off ever since.
Road Trip from Arizona to Oregon
My friend and I had planned a trip to Sri Lanka which was cancelled due to COVID-19. We then decided to explore the US in the form of a long road trip starting in Phoenix, Arizona and ending in Portland, Oregon. We chose to drive through Utah because I had heard amazing things about the landscape and hiking opportunities in the southern part of the state.
I am trying to see all 61 US national parks and this trip crossed off six! I wrote a blog detailing our trip but the overview was: Phoenix, AZ – Sedona, AZ – Grand Canyon National Park – Page, AZ – Zion National Park – Bryce Canyon National Park – Capitol Reef National Park – Canyonlands National Park – Arches National Park – Salt Lake City, UT – Bend, OR – Portland, OR.
One of my best friends had visited Zion a few years back and said it was her favorite national park. After looking into the park more and seeing the beauty through photographs, I added it to my bucket list immediately. I was so excited when the opportunity to visit Zion finally came about that I planned that part of our road trip first and went from there.
Hiking the Angels Landing Trail
In Zion National Park, we spent some time just driving through the park and taking in the amazing views. The gorgeous red rocks, tunnels, blue rivers and cliffs left us speechless as we made our way through the winding roads to the visitors center. We caught our shuttle at our scheduled time of 10am and rode to the Grotto drop off which is the Angels Landing stop.
From there, we started our hike! The first portion is switchbacks with a pretty steep incline. Then the cliff gave us a break from the sun as we traversed a gradual ascent up to more switchbacks. There is a midway point called Scout Lookout that people choose to stop at, but we kept going to reach the chains. The rest of the hike is strenuous and narrow.
After spending some time at the top, we made our way back down to hike The Narrows before heading back to our campsite at Watchman Campground. The top of Angels Landing in Zion felt like I was on top of the world. Since it’s such a steep hike, the top feels all the more special!
Things To Do at Angels Landing
The best experience at Angels Landing is making a point to stop and take in the views on the way up. With all the switchbacks, you will end up seeing various terrains on your way up. The chains are fun and you will have to stop and wait for the one way traffic from the other direction quite often.
The top features a 360 degree look at the valley and makes the entire hike worth it. The hike is about five miles, so plan for about two hours to the top and about an hour back down. Angels Landing in Zion National Park is a place that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!
Where to Stay in Zion National Park
I highly recommend staying at the Watchman Campground when visiting Zion National Park. We booked our campsite months in advance and managed to secure one with a view of The Watchman Cliff. Our site was D17 in Loop D. I would recommend booking one in that area to have the least amount of neighbors and the best views of The Watchman.
Best Memories of Angels Landing
On our way up, we started chatting and joking with the people behind us. They met us at the top and we had lunch together and took photos of each other before we headed back. I find fellow hikers to be like-minded and easy to get along with. It’s nice to make friends along the way.
Another highlight of the hike was the chains and technical parts of the hike. It’s certainly not for everyone but if you are physically able, the chains to the top were my favorite part of the hike. If the chains aren’t for you, there is a beautiful view before the chains start that many people stop at.
Need to Know Before you Go
If you want to avoid the crowds, start early and go on a weekday. We were there on a Sunday but it was March (not peak season) and the hike was still pretty crowded. Book your Zion Shuttle in advance! Here is the link with info: www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/zion-canyon-shuttle-tickets.htm.
They open for advance tickets twice a month – on the 16th and last day of the month. So for example, for March 2021, advance tickets were released on February 28 at 9am. If you don’t manage to get your desired date and time, they open tickets the day prior at 5pm on Recreation.gov at 5pm.
If you don’t get the shuttle in advance, you will have to walk eight miles on the paved road to Angels Landing. We saw a few people that had to do this and it did not look fun. But I guess you can’t let that stop you from experiencing this incredible place – it will really take your breath away!