Roadtrip to Zion: Part II – Angel’s Landing

We’re back with another Zion update!

We arrived at Zion in the late afternoon on our third day of travel, and our first stop was the Zion Visitor Center to pick up our backpacking permits.

Our initial plan had been to hike the Narrows top down, but unfortunately the threat of rain and the recent death on that trail made us rethink those plans. We picked up our backup permit for the West Rim instead.

The kids enjoyed running off some energy playing near the visitor center.

Posing? I’m not sure what’s happening here.
The two hiking options for The Narrows.

On our way back towards our AirBNB we stopped at Zion Adventures where we had reserved our dry suits for the Narrows, and asked to postpone our reservation due to the weather (they were totally cool about this). Then we headed to check into our house for the week.

We have been really impressed with the townhouse we’re staying in, it’s a great set up for our group. The kids have an awesome bunk room, the grandparents have a master downstairs, we have a master suite upstairs, and Morgan and Jewels have their own room too. The baby is sleeping in his pack and play in our bathroom so he has a quiet space away from everyone.

The house is also perfectly set up for kids – lots of kids movies and toys, so it worked out great that we packed light on kids toys (just their favorite stuffed animals and blankies). The kids played for a while our first night and then tucked into bed watching the Land Before Time.

We headed out the next morning around 8:00am, which was a later start for us than usual. Due to the weather and threat of ice and snow, we wanted to stop by Zion Adventures again to pick up some crampons for Morgan and Jewels (they arrived after the store had closed the night before).

Despite the dreary weather, the parking lot at our trailhead, Grotto Picnic Area, was packed. We drove up further to see if we could find another parking area, but the closest was about 3/4 of a mile up the road and adding 1.5 miles to our hike in the rain didn’t seem appealing. We cruised back down to the Grotto, and were fortunate to catch someone leaving as we pulled around a second time.

We found some nice fellow hikers to take our photo as we set out for Angel’s Landing.

Due to the huge numbers of people who hike the Landing every year (apparently over 300,000!) we did have to apply for permits to do the chain portion, which is limited to 1200 people per day. We didn’t see nearly that many people out due to the weather and didn’t see any rangers checking permits, but we had ours just in case.

The trailhead for Angel’s Landing

The hike up to the chain portion was about 1.5 miles, mostly steeply uphill. According to my Apple Watch we gained just under 900 feet of elevation, and completed that first portion in about 45 minutes with our packs on. Although the trail was a little wet, it wasn’t slippery or muddy. The views along the way were spectacular.

Taking a breather.

We hit Walter’s Wiggles right before the split for Angel’s Landing.

Walter’s Wiggles.

We stopped at the split for Angel’s Landing and the West Rim trail for everyone to use the restroom and drop our packs, which we didn’t want to take out onto the Landing.

Fortunately by the time we got to the chained portion things had dried up pretty well. I would not have wanted to do this in wet or icy weather, as it felt treacherous enough dry.

According to the parks service, somewhere between 13 and 17 people have died climbing Angel’s Landing. Jewels and I were not sure we would have the nerve to complete the hike, but we told ourselves that we could always turn back if needed.

The first portion of the Landing was managed without chains, and Jewels and I had a rough time going through it. As we made it to the first set of chains, we asked an elderly man coming back down the path how the rest of it was (we still weren’t committed), and he gave us the pep talk we needed. He said he’s done the trail many times over the last 50 years, and as long as we took it slow, and remembered if we lost our balance to just sit down, that we would be fine. He was just who we needed to see at just the right time, and we felt like the mountain had sent us a spirit to calm our nerves.

Here are the photos from our hike up the Landing, taken from everyone’s perspectives.

We finally made it to the top! The view was amazing.

After enjoying a little break at the top it was time to head back down. We had to get to our campsite before dark so we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time left in our day.

Once we hit the bottom of Angel’s Landing where the trail heads off towards the West Rim, we took the split and headed towards our campsite for the evening. We’ll be back with the rest of our hike and our other adventures in Zion soon!

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