Packing For Angels Landing
Backpack – A small backpack will do the trick for Angels landing. A simple hiking backpack will do just fine.
Hiking Shoes – You will want to wear solid hiking shoes with good grip for the ascent up the spine of Angels Landing. I recommend the Keen Marshall WP. While you don’t need waterproof shoes for Angels Landing, they come in handy for hiking The Narrows, or taking a dip in the Virgin River.
Hydration Bladder – Taking lots of water is a must on this hike, especially during the scorching summer months. Although the hike is only 2 miles, ascending the switchbacks can be quite strenuous, so you will want to bring plenty of water. A minimum of 1.5 liters of water should be brought along for the trek. I use the Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir, and it’s great, but any hydration bladder will do.
Trail Mix / Snacks – This hike is a steep, uphill ascent, and it never hurts to bring along some extra sustenance to refuel along the way. I’d recommend some hearty trail mix or other nutrient-rich snacks.
Lunch – The view from the top of Scout’s Lookout or the Peak of Angels Landing is too beautiful not to bring a lunch to enjoy at the top! Bringing a tasty meal to enjoy at the top of the trail is the way to go to really enjoy the trail. Just don’t feed the squirrels!
Sunscreen – It is hot in the desert during the summer months, and the sun can do some serious damage. At the very least, you will want to bring some SPF-30 sunscreen to avoid turning into a red lobster. The best times to hike Angels Landing are early in the morning, or in the late afternoon to avoid both the summer heat and the crowds.
Sunglasses – You have to make sure you’re looking cool with your shades on for your selfies at the top of the hike! Seriously though, you will want some sunglasses to protect your eyes from the desert sun. I’m a Ray-Ban guy myself, but regardless of what your style is you will want some sun protection for your eyes.
The West Rim Trail and Angels Landing
From the Grotto Picnic Area you will cross the Zion Canyon road and cross the bridge that extends over the North Fork of the Virgin River. You will begin the trail by following the path through cottonwood, pinyon pine, and junipers. It is a steady 2 mile uphill hike through the brush until you reach a series of switchbacks named Refrigerator Canyon.
Refrigerator Canyon is a gap between Angels Landing and Cathedral Mountain and is just over one mile long. The canyon provides you some much needed cover from the sun and has a much cooler climate than the ravine. A nice, cool breeze blows through the canyon, hence the name Refrigerator Canyon. This series of switchbacks can prove to be strenuous, so don’t worry about taking some breaks along the way and enjoying the great views of the ravine.
Walter’s Wiggles is a series of 21 steep, zig-zagging switchbacks that you will need to ascend to reach Scout Lookout. Walter’s Wiggles is named after the first superintendent of Zion who assisted in engineering the series of switchbacks. The trail was initially designed to enable horses to access Cabin Spring.
After ascending Walter’s Wiggle’s, you reach Scout’s Lookout. This is a great spot to take a rest and enjoy the view of Zion Canyon before you complete the ascent to Angel’s Landing. There are many critters who will be interested in any snacks you may have, but the park frowns on visitors feeding them.
Angels Landing Trail
The final ascent to the top of the Angel’s Landing trail is not for the faint of heart. You will hike a half-mile along sandstone isthmus with large drop-offs on both sides. There are chains secured into the rock to assist you in the ascent. Take your time and be courteous to other climbers and you will have no problem reaching the summit. Once you reach the summit, the views are absolutely breathtaking. 1500′ below the Virgin River cuts through the canyon. One of the early explorers of Zion, Frederick Fisher proclaimed that, “only an angel could land on it,” and that is how the peak was named.