From first hand experiences and research, we knew we wanted try to be on the first shuttles into Zion National Park and get an early start on Angel’s Landing. That meant we got up at 4:30am, got to the park at 5, packed lunches and then got in the shuttle line at 5:30. First shuttle into the park leaves at 6am. Believe it or not there was already a line and we were second shuttle out.
We got to Angel’s landing trailhead at 6:15 and began the ascent up. The first 3/4 of the trail is a paved trail of gradual and then steep switchbacks. You take it to Scout’s Lookout where there are a few trail options, restrooms and the continuation of Angel’s Landing. From here the trail gets totally different. It turns into a single track narrow scramble up the mountain, with a chain railing.
Dad and Alissa decided to stay back. Surprisingly (but not surprisingly) mom decided to continue on with me! With mom’s nerves, I thought she would’ve stayed back and dad would continue with me haha.
I’m fascinated with heights, love skydiving, cliff jumping etc, but for some reason this trail was making me feel super dizzy anytime I took my eyes off the path. I’m not sure if I’d been on anything so narrow with such steep drop offs in the last decade! After 15 minutes or so I gradually got used to it and felt more comfortable. Regardless, totally worth it. Probably the coolest trail I’ve hiked to date. I love mixing hiking with a little bit of sketchiness. 🙂 Up and back took us about 3.5 hours with a lot of photo stops.
From Angel’s Landing, we refilled our waters and then took the shuttle further into the park to the Narrows.
The Narrows is a river hike through the canyon. The first mile is a paved walk along the river, and then you get IN the river and the remainder is either on the river bank or through/in the river in ankle deep to waist deep water. The entire Narrows passageway is 16 miles. Originally I’d wanted to do the whole thing with an overnight camp along the River. But I changed my mind last minute and looking back I’m glad I did. It was a fun hike and refreshing, but eventually trudging through the river gets monotonous and everything looks the same. We went in 3 hours to get to the section known as Wall Street, the narrowest part of the canyon. It was a great hike for a hot 104 degree day. You’re shaded by canyons walls the majority of the time and the water was refreshing. It was a very popular/heavily trafficked hike. The last mile out on the paved section back to the shuttle was brutal. Hot. SO HOT. I got back to the bathrooms and was unashamedly throwing handfuls of water on every part of my body in effort to cool down. Lol.
We finished both hikes around 4:30pm and we were exhausted. My lifestyle has changed in the last two years and I spend the majority of my time on my butt sitting in a helicopter or at a desk and sadly I’m not used to physical exertion like I used to be!
We’d planned on a primitive campsite again, but boiling hot, sweaty, sticky, hungry and desperate for a good shower we all voted to backtrack into Hurricane and get a hotel for the night. So worth it. Good showers and sleep were had by all.
People were totally right. Get to Zion as early as possible to be on those first shuttles and start hiking before the heat and crowds. Even if you’re going in cooler weather, Angel’s Landing is tough once there’s a lot of people up there. That last single track steep chain climb of the hike is mostly one way. Once people are coming both up and down the trail, a traffic jam ensues and people are precautiously climbing over each other or scooting around each other while trying to hold that lifeline. We witnessed that on the last 5 minutes of our descent.
If you get into the park before 6am, you skip the park fee. We didn’t plan that but it’s just a fun tip. Additionally, the visitor center is the only place that has free parking in the entire vicinity. It fills up by 6-6:30 so if you want a free spot get there early.
There are water refilling stations and bathrooms at every shuttle stop within Zion National Park. At the end of the day the bathrooms are icky and no longer have toilet paper. So bring your own paper.
At the visitor center area you can rent water boots and hiking sticks for about $45. We had planned on wearing our own hiking boots in the water and it was totally fine. (Of course your wet boots feel quite a bit heavier all water logged!) With the high temps we figured our boots would dry out within a day. We left them outside and they dried out overnight.
There are hiking sticks people leave right at the river start on the trail, but I imagine at times they’re all gone so if you really want a stick but you didn’t rent one, it’s a gamble. I didn’t use one and didn’t find it necessary. But the other three in my party used them and highly recommend them.