West Rim (including Angels Landing)

West RimThe length of the West Rim trail with a side trip up Angels Landing is a great sampler platter of Zion National Park from the ponderosa and oak leaf shrubs of the high desert to the sandstone cliffs and finally down to the Virgin River in the Zion Canyon. In May of 2014 Kristen and I did an overnight backpack of its length and really enjoyed it. One could definitely do it on a long day.

Getting there is easiest by paying a private shuttle. They generally meet in the early morning at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center which is convenient at the end of your journey where you can take the Park’s shuttle back from the Grotto.

The trees and shrubs create wonderful habitat for birds and lizards as you travel across Horse Pasture Plateau. Shade is intermittent, so it’s nice to start at the top in the morning from the West Rim Trailhead by Lava Point. As you follow along the rim, you get views of Wildcat Canyon and then the headwaters of North Creek. To the west, these canyon sit at the shadow of white and red sandstone cliffs creating a dramatic view.

A little drop into a grassy area called Potato Hollow changes the flora and fauna, then it’s back up on the plateau. With each turn, you get closer to the rim and the views continue to get more impressive. My favorite part was definitely dropping down into the Zion Canyon. The first drop cutting down a cliff face with a fantastically streaked wall.

Scout LookoutBelow this wall you traverse wonderful slickrock until you get to see into the main canyon and the Virgin River. At Scout Lookout, you look up at Angels Landing and decide whether or not you can handle the beautiful knife-edge ridge. On top of Angels Landing, you’re plopped right in the middle of the canyon with unparalleled views.

Dropping back down to Scout Lookout and heading on out, you’ll switchback and forth down Walter’s Wiggles, through the cool Refrigerator Canyon and then down into the canyon floor. Of course most visitors will only do this as a trip to Scout Lookout or to Angels Landing, but the entire trip is definitely worth doing.

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