“One of the most memorable National Park runs. Heavenly views await at the end of an exposed ridge.”
— Jason Smith
Birding · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
No cars allowed in Zion Canyon between March and November. You must use one of the Park's frequent shuttles in order to get into the Canyon. Plan to take the shuttle to the Grotto drop off during these peak months. Check here for shuttle updates: nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/…
Running Angel's Landing is a rare experience. The route is as efficient as it is improbable - most of the elevation gain happens on a paved trail leading to an exposed ridge. You'll never forget the view.
Need to Know
Restrooms at Grotto Trail
and there is an outhouse at Scout Lookout. Bring water, food, sunsceen and all necessary clothing. The run is not long, but it's intense full-value. Bring what you need to be safe and comfortable.
During the last 1/2 mile summit ridge past Scout Lookout, you'll encounter both exposure and lots of people. Leave pacing expectations at the trailhead as you'll be stopping to let others by at narrow sections. Be wary of dangerous ice during non-summer months and do not proceed to the summit if storms are in the area or if the rock is wet. Be ready for wild temperature swings - from scorching sun on Walter's Wiggle to chilly shade in Refrigerator Canyon. The stimulating summit pitch can be windy.
From the Grotto shuttle drop-off, look for the signed trail on west side of the road. The trail, somewhat sandy but not hard, crosses the beautiful Virgin River, and bends north to largely follow it. Angel's Landing will be staring right at you. Savor this mellow warmup, because you'll be working hard soon.
As the grade increases, the trail becomes paved leading into the 21 grinding switchbacks called Walter's Wiggle. You'll then transition into the shady depths of Refrigerator Canyon beneath Angel's Landing, then turning back right to enter the final switchbacks to Scout Lookout, where the pavement ends and the real fun begins.
Assess conditions and your comfort with the exposed route ahead. If you are game, continue on the final 1/2 mile to Angel's Landing summit. There are chains anchored by posts as optional assistance when the route is exposed. Grab em if you want. Regardless, you'll feel the rush.
When I did Angel's Landing the weekend before Thanksgiving, 2014, it was a magnificent sunny day, but a chilly wind was blowing big gusts on the top section. it doesn't take much to make you realize how vulnerable you are up there, so be careful.
Exposure eases the last few hundred meters to the summit. Take a seat, stretch, and enjoy the divine view. Proceed back to Grotto trailhead exactly the way you came.