Years ago Clinton and I had the fortune to visit the GREATEST National Park in the United States – Zion National Park! Yes, I should state this is truly “Nicci’s opinion”, and of course we can break “favorites” down into designation, state, region…Zion National Park is always a top choice for any reason. It took my breath away when I first saw it, and we were only there for a day. We drove to the park with the thought that we were going to hike to the Subway. When we got there flash flooding prevented us from getting far, so we ended up just taking the scenic bus ride into the park and doing the scenic hikes to various viewpoints. I remember sitting on a rock and watching the water flow by for hours – it was magical.
One of the hikes I was immensely curious about was Angel’s Landing. A trail that included a chain to prevent you from falling off the side of a cliff? How do I sign up?! I thought it would be such an amazing adventure to climb something that seemed, at the time, impossible. I Googled pictures and couldn’t imagine seeing the area in person. It immediately made it to the top of my “adventurous goals”. My curiosity was peaked even further with Nick, a Park Ranger I worked with at Central High School National Historic Site, told me about his experience hiking to the Landing himself. I thought that this hike was going to be incredibly difficult. I had hiked to Delicate Arch and remember how much I HATED the hike. It definitely made up for it when we got to the top (I highly recommend!) but I knew I needed to be a little bit more use to higher elevation and climbing uphill. This Floridian had 23 year experience with the exact opposite!
This year, for some reason, it was different. We went to bed the night before with the idea that we would wake up early and leave – and our goal was to hike to Angel’s Landing. We packed one day pack that had a full 3L Camelback. We packed snacks with plenty of salt, and an extra water bottle. That extra water bottle came in really handy on our way down. We both wore hats, shoes that were broken in, and comfortable socks. We dressed in layers – I had a tank top and a light sweater just in case. Some of this you probably know, but just in case you needed some recommendations!
The hike starts at the Grotto and is uphill almost the entire way. We took breaks when we both felt tired and we did not necessarily walk side by side – Clinton is much faster than me. Everywhere you could stop to catch your breath though was another amazing scene of Zion. You change elevation about 1500 ft and the total round trip is 5.4 miles. It took us about four hours, mostly from going uphill. When you get to Scout Landing you have to make the decision if you want to continue out to Angel’s Landing. Take your time and really make sure you know when you want to bail. Clinton and I started at the same time, and when he reached the edge where it dropped off on both sides 1,000 ft he started to feel light headed and dizzy because he has a fear of heights. We had already talked about what we were going to do if this happened, and we both stuck to the plan – I continued on with the back pack and he carefully turned around and waited for me at Scout Landing.
The hike was difficult and I recommend you pace yourself as best as possible but this hike was definitely had to stick to that advice. Many people seem to attempt the Landing, especially since it has the chain. There is only one way up and one way down and ONE chain – which does mean you share or you communicate with the ones below or above who is going first. Be a good steward to others when you go out and actually communicate! Going downhill is sometimes more difficult than going uphill, especially if tired – so be patient. When you get to the top it is beautiful! You can see from all around Zion National Park, and since we were there during the fall it was especially beautiful.
But beautiful is used to describe more than just Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park. We took our time getting downhill since our legs were already starting to feel the hike and stopped in the gift shop for a victory shirt and some goodies. We ate dinner at the Utah Brewery right near the park border, and took the shuttle to our vehicle.
Other things to note: If the parking lot for the National Park Service is full, which is was when we went October 27, you’ll have to park in town and take the free shuttle. Parking was $20 for the day. We took the free, convenient shuttle to the Visitor Center, and then another one into the park. Our destination this time was the Grotto for Angels Landing, but there is so much more to see and do at Zion National Park! We drove through the part of the park we could access before heading home so we could admire the views. Even if this is all you do, we encourage you to visit Utah and #TalleyYourAdventure at Zion National Park!