Where: Zion National Park in Southern Utah
Why: While Angel’s Landing is among the more harrowing hikes in the National Park system, the incredible view from the top makes the 5-mile trip along the steep, winding path well worth it for any nature lover.
How: Hikers begin with a free shuttle ride to the park’s Grotto stop, where you can fill up on water before crossing the bridge over the Virgin River at the trail’s base. From there it’s a two-hour trip to Scout Lookout at the top of the 1,488-foot rock formation. There’s plenty to take in along the way, particularly for birding enthusiasts who can expect to spot winged creatures like the black-chinned hummingbird, turkey vulture, and California condor.
The first few miles of the trail are well-groomed, with shady spots like Refrigerator Canyon offering breaks from the heat before hikers reach the last half mile, one of the toughest parts of the trek thanks to 21 pinball-like switchbacks known collectively as Walter’s Wiggles. Reaching the very top with the help of anchored support chains, visitors are rewarded with spectacular views of Zion Canyon that American geologist Clarence Dutton aptly described as, “…a scene never to be forgotten. In coming time it will, I believe, take rank with a very small number of spectacles each of which will, in its own way, be regarded as the most exquisite of its kind which the world discloses.”
More: Get an even better sense of what’s in store with Zion National Park’s Angel’s Landing eHike, featuring photos, videos, and more facts about the trail.