Angels Landing in Zion
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”- Anaïs Nin
Why This Peak?
Zion National Park in Utah is a very special place that Tami and TJ have both hiked before. Angels Landing is probably the most iconic hike in Zion. It is on the list of 25 most dangerous hikes because the last half mile up requires using chains along a narrow path with steep drop-offs. We will be joined on this hike by a large group of people who did the week long Movara program with us. There is no doubt that this hike will be one of the most memorable experiences of this year long journey.
Peak & Route Facts
Angels Landing, known earlier as the Temple of Aeolus, is a 1,488-foot (454 m) tall rock formation in Zion National Park in southern Utah. A trail, cut into solid rock in 1926, leads to the top of Angels Landing and provides a spectacular view of Zion Canyon.
The round trip hike to the summit of Angels Landing is 5.2 miles with 1,578′ of elevation gain. The trail begins at the Grotto drop off point on the park’s shuttle system, which operates from early spring through late fall. It roughly follows the path of the Virgin River for some time, slowly gaining elevation in sandy terrain. As the trail gets steeper and leaves behind the river, it becomes paved. After a series of steep switchbacks, the trail goes through the area between Angels Landing and the Zion Canyon that is a gradual ascent. Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 steep switchbacks, are the last hurdle before Scout Lookout. Scout Lookout is generally the turnaround point for those who are unwilling to make the final summit push to the top of Angels Landing. The last half-mile of the trail is strenuous and littered with sharp drop offs and narrow paths. Chains to grip are provided for portions of the last half-mile to the top at 5,790 feet (1,760 m).
Historical and Cultural Information
Zion National Park is located in the Southwestern United States, near Springdale, Utah. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to half a mile (800 m) deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest elevation is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park’s unique geography and variety of life zones allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park’s four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches.
Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans; the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi(300 CE) stem from one of these groups. In turn, the Virgin Anasazi culture (500 CE) developed as the Basketmakers settled in permanent communities. A different group, the Parowan Fremont, lived in the area as well. Both groups moved away by 1300 and were replaced by the Parrusits and several other Southern Paiute subtribes. Mormons came into the area in 1858 and settled there in the early 1860s. In 1909 the President of the United States, William Howard Taft, named the area a National Monument to protect the canyon, under the name of Mukuntuweap National Monument. In 1918, however, the acting director of the newly created National Park Service changed the park’s name to Zion, the name used by the Mormons. The United States Congress established the monument as a National Park on November 19, 1919.