There is a beautiful legend regarding the naming of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. An explorer of the name of Frederick Fisher looked skyward in 1916 and exclaimed that only an angel could land upon it. Ten years later, two park service employees, Thomas Chalmers Vint and Walter Ruesch, set about proving him wrong. The impressive trail was eventually listed on National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and is now one of the greatest day hikes anywhere.
Ashby and I set out with the intention to use National Park week as something of a sampler. We wanted to see what was on offer, and perhaps mark out places to return. For me, on my second visit to this remarkable spot, returning to Zion was something particularly special. I wanted to share this place with my husband, introduce him to the most beautiful place I have ever been.
Horseshoe Bend and the majesty of the Colorado River
In a move perhaps unsurprising to those who know me, I rather grossly underestimated our drive time from the Grand Canyon to Zion. In my flurry of planning, I had confused my distances, and the result was an unexpectedly long drive day. Luckily, we had a host of podcasts to listen to, and a special stop along the way – Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.
This rather lovely sight is only a short walk from the interstate. The almost hidden nature of it adds to its beauty, as it is so close yet so easy to miss from the road. It is technically a meander of the Colorado River, and we spied kayakers in the water below. A stunning example of the beauty within the rocks.
Driving on from here, we made it to Zion in the early evening and arrived to the dreaded campground full sign. This park in particular is rather notorious for difficulty in securing a campsite, and alas we were too late. However, another campground was available just on the edge of the park and we snagged a spot there. It was a little more expensive, but came with such luxuries as showers, and wifi. The sites were rather cramped, however, and missing that special touch that the National Park Service offers.
Walking with the Angels
We slept well and arose early to tackle Angel’s Landing. This is one of the hikes available at Zion, and a particularly notorious one at that. A quick google for information and one of the first things that come up are figures of just how many people have fallen when doing the walk. However, it is an accessible walk, as long as you are smart, and take your time. Getting to the trail is straightforward, as there are shuttles to get you around the park. The first part of the climb is just a tough slog uphill, including the Walter’s Wiggles – a lovely stretch of switchbacks to get you puffing.
Once you get to Scout’s Landing, then the fun really begins. This is the final spot for a lot of people and really does allow you to appreciate the beauty. The next step does not work if you have any fear of heights, because it is a long way up and some sheer drops down. Thankfully, someone else has put together a wee video just so those at home can appreciate it (Mum, I know you will love this one).
It is a bit of a highway getting up and down, but at the end you will come to one of the most magical places in the world.
Driving out, we stopped often to take in the view and snap some more photographs. Ashby had scoffed a little when I said Zion was more breathtaking than the Grand Canyon… Both places are different, but Zion wins in my books. I think it is because you cannot help but be confronted with the stunning landscape.
One day, I intend to spend a week camping in Zion National Park. There are a hosts of other hikes I want to go on, and hours to spend just soaking in the beauty. It really is one of my most favourite places.