Zion National Park: Angel’s Landing Re-Opens

There is seemingly a lot of news coming out of Zion National Park these days, however, we wanted to point out one particularly important item important to us that may have slipped through the proverbial cracks.

Zion National Park’s world-famous “Angel’s Landing” hike has been re-opened after being closed since intense flooding, mudslides and rockfall from a July 11 storm severely damaged the hiking trail.

Great news, because the Angel’s Landing hike is one of the highlights on the ‘hiker’ version of our Canyons of Utah: Zion & Bryce Tour, running November 4-9, 2018 (please note: this hike is on the ‘hiker’ itinerary of this tour. If you are registered for the non-hiking tour running the same dates, you will photograph Angel’s Landing, but will not hike it).

Angel’s Landing.. Cool name, cool hike. But what exactly is is?The Angels Landing Trail is a total of 5 miles round-trip, from the trailhead to the summit and back. The hike takes about 4 or 5 hours. On our “hiker” trip we will hike along the West Rim Trail and photograph the summit of Angel’s Landing from a nearby outcropping known as Scout’s Lookout.

Angels Landing is a strenuous hike, with steep sections of rapid elevation gain in full sun exposure, and occasional scrambling. The total elevation change is just shy of 1,500 feet!

Its interesting name comes from a Methodist minister named Frederick Vining Fisher, who visited Zion Canyon in 1916. Admiring the cliff above him, he remarked that only angels might land there.

It is located in Zion Canyon, where the Virgin River cuts through 270-million-year-old layers of Kayenta and Navajo sandstone, up through Refrigerator Canyon and Walter’s Wiggles, which are a series of switchbacks named after Zion’s first Park Superintendent, Walter Ruesch, who said “Zion is God’s country; don’t make it look like hell.” Ruesch designed and constructed the trail to Angel’s Landing in 1926, and took quite a bit of ownership over it.

According to a press release from the Park, the heavy rainfall from the July 11 storm caused major damage in the area of Refrigerator Canyon on the West Rim Trail, which which hikers need to pass through in order to get to Angel’s Landing. A section of retaining wall failed, as did several 100 year-old protective check dams. This opened an 18 foot gap in the trail that was over five feet deep. To re-open the passage to Scout’s Lookout, Zion’s trail crew stabilized both ends of the trail and built a new custom bridge to span a 30 foot section where the trail and the retaining wall had been damaged or washed away, the press release said.

Shuttles will resume dropping and picking up passengers at the Grotto Shuttle Stop, however, the Kayenta Trail, Upper Emerald Pools Trail, the terminus of Lower Emerald Pools Trail, and Hidden Canyon will remain closed as of now. We’ll keep our eyes on any subsequent advances trail crews may have on these trails as we get nearer our trip dates, but have no fear those of you signed up for this tour!

This aesthetic rock monolith will be amazing photography fodder for us, as well. Combined with autumn foliage, and glorious light, we’ll look to get amazing shots from the river, too!

Did we mention there are still a few spots remaining on this exciting tour that also visits the hauntingly gorgeous Bryce Canyon?  The autumn colors and soft light are sure to be popping this time of year, maybe even some snow cover on the tops of the famous Bryce Canyon hoodoos, which make them all the more memorable!

Kenton Krueger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.

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