Zion National Park’s jewel in the crown has to be Angel’s Landing. A striking tower of rock that juts out into the canyon some 1500ft high and only 1ft wide in places, it makes for a pretty intimidating land mark and provides an ambitious jaunt up to the summit.
Having conditioned ourselves to the heat and altitude on day 1, the plan for day 2 was to set off early to avoid the crowds, scramble up the ridge to the summit of Angel’s Landing and get back down in time to make it around the West Rim Trail.
After about 30 mins of 21 incredible switchbacks (“Walter’s Wiggles” – named after the parks first superintendent who had them made back in 1926) we made it to the saddle where the trail splits between Angel’s Landing and the West Rim. From here, you’ll get a great view of your line along the ridge.
For anyone planning on doing it, the best times to avoid the crowds are the obvious: super early in the morning (which means getting on the 7am shuttle from the visitor centre), or late afternoon as it gets towards dusk. The numbers of the people on the ridge can make things treacherous as inexperienced hikers push past and don’t wait to take the more technical sections in turn. We completed the 3km/1488ft climb in an hour and were rewarded with incredible views north and south along the Zion Canyon.
As the bus-loads of people arrived and crowds started to gather on the trails to the saddle we made a quick escape to descend back to the West Rim trail before the ridge got crowded. The descent has you staring face first towards the canyon floor 1500ft below with nothing to prevent you falling except for the occasional section of chain.
Once back to the saddle we followed the West Rim Trail. It ascends gradually pretty much all the way to Cabin Springs. At Cabin springs the trail splits to and forms a loop, we took the left turn and headed west to continue running along the rim of the canyon.