Zion Park: The West Rim Trail and Angels Landing Trail

Zion National Park has a lot of great trails. Since we were only there for a day, we opted for the famous West Rim trail up to Scouts Lookout Point. The hike starts at The Grotto bus shuttle stop.

Zion Park in the distance as we make our way there

The first part of the trail leads up to the mountain (pictures below), before it starts bending at each turn. The views of this trail are breathtaking. Before reaching the winding turns, there are a few access points to The Virgin River, which that day was a cold 55F degree!

The view when starting the hike. We need to hike all the way up there.
Looking back towards the river and where the hike started.

About halfway up to Scouts Lookout Point, we reached the Refrigerator Canyon, which instantly feels much cooler due to the wind draft and the shades provided by the high mountain walls at each side.

The Fridge Canyon provides very cool shade in the morning.

After this valley, the final stretch to the Lookout is a steep set of sharp, switchback turns called Walter’s Wiggles. They are 21 switchbacks to be exact that will leave you out of breath and test your leg endurance!

Walter’s Wiggles. I would rather call this section the Leg killer’s.

After that long uphill section, we took a well-deserved break at Scouts Lookout Point, and then kept hiking toward the West Rim Trail. Since at this point we were already in the mountain plateaus, the views are mostly from above.

Some parts of the trail were a bit bland and monotonous, but we did have the trail basically to ourselves alone. This is a 16.2 mile one-way trail, so we only hiked about 2 miles before turning back to Scouts Lookout Point.

Feels like you’re in the top of the world here!

Angels Landing

Back at Scouts Lookout Point, I went ahead and hiked Angels Landing even though I hadn’t planned to since my wife can’t handle height well. But when will I ever be back here? I had to hike it. The adrenaline junkie in me couldn’t resist not doing this hike.

Scouts Lookout Point Rest area, where those brave enough can choose to hike the half mile to Angels Landing.

For those that don’t know, Angels Landing is probably the most popular hike in Zion National Park. This short hike’s trail basically follows the narrow spine of the mountain with some parts being only a few feet narrow with cliffs to each side. There are various warnings to only do this hike if you’re an experience hiker and not afraid of heights.

This is Scouts Lookout Point looking on to the start of Angels Landing.

Unfortunately I didn’t take my camera with me so that my wife wouldn’t be concerned about me falling to my death while trying to take a selfie on a cliff. But regardless, the hike was amazing and the views at the end give you a 360 view of the valley.

As for the hike itself, I didn’t find it technically challenging besides the steep incline. So besides the leg burn, this wasn’t a difficult hike. If you are afraid of heights, that’s a whole different issue. Vertigo may cause you balance issues and that can lead to a stumble or a fall.

Chains are installed throughout the entire trail for hikers to hold on to. I personally found them to be unhelpful since they swing so much and have too much wiggle in them. I prefer to hold onto something more firm and steady. But with good balance, you might not even need them.

I did manage to sneak one picture. This is where the trail starts, and probably the easiest part.

Another thing I noticed while hiking, a lot of other hikers treat the hike as a race, and will try to almost run past you. Keep in mind that some sections of the trail are barely two feet wide, with a fall to your death on either side. I’m not sure who they are trying to impress, but please hike in a smart manner.

So my tip of the day: hike Angels Landing at your own pace. Don’t let other rushed hikers control your pace, and enjoy the hike. It’s a beautiful view and at least for me, I had no rush in finishing that hike! The hike is narrow enough that to let others pass, you need to force yourself into a ledge. There are some few areas that have space to pass, so once you reach those, take a breather and let the impatient hikers pass.

After returning alive and safe to my wife, we headed back down through Walter’s Wiggles and the Refrigerator Canyon, which by now felt more like an oven. We obviously had to celebrate the amazing hike we had so when we reached the river access, we took a quick cooling session by taking a dip in the cold 50F water. It was actually very refreshing.

After the dip we were back to the Grotto bus stop and on our way to the parking lot via the shuttle. This was our first hike of our trip.

Distance Hiked: 7.4 miles

Related: This is part of our adventure through some of the national parks around the Grand Canyon. Check A Hiking Adventure through the Grand Canyon for the rest of this story and additional tips for visiting Zion National Park.

2 thoughts on “Zion Park: The West Rim Trail and Angels Landing Trail”

  1. My wife and I did Angel’s landing last November. Pretty amazing and the pictures don’t do it justice! A little crowded and I agree with you about not getting rushed. My wife doesn’t like heights either but she made it up. We will have to check out the West Rim next time!

    Max

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