While driving home from Colorado we veered slightly off the 15 and stumbled upon the adventure wonderland that is Zion National Park. I had driven through the area several times a decade before and thought for certain I’d been to Zion when I visited nearby Bryce Canyon, but once we descended into the roping waves of sandstone at the park’s eastern entrance, I realized I had never been to this magical place.
We booked a place to stay completely last-minute and were lucky enough to nab one of the adorable cabins built in 1927 at the Zion Lodge, which I highly recommend as it’s inside the park so you can start hikes right outside your front door (aided with the help of a free shuttle service up and down the canyon). One of those hikes, Angels Landing, was perhaps the most incredible five miles I’ve ever walked in my life.
The hike starts innocently enough, switchbacking up a canyon wall and through a notch in the pink-and-white checkerboard rock. After a few more switchbacks you start to realize that those are people you’re seeing scrambling up that orange monolith before you. Yep, you’re climbing that. The hike goes all the way to the top, on a trail that is often nothing more than chain ropes and abstract stairs carved into the sheer rock face.
There’s a virtual experience online but it really doesn’t compare to the dizzying sensation of ambling atop the summit and looking back at where you’ve just hike-climbed (not for anyone who is afraid of heights). The best part? We finished the hike at noon and were back in LA for dinner. Angels Landing is just a hop, skip, and a (very surefooted) jump from Los Angeles.