The Complete Guide to Angels Landing

June 17th, 2014

Sure, you’ve heard of Angels Landing: the 1,488 foot tall rock formation in the heart of Zion National Park. But do you know what it’s like to actually climb it?

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Angels Landing is the most famous hike in Zion and features everything from strenuous switchbacks to breathtaking dropoffs. The summit offers a stunning 360 degree view of the park and according to its discoverer Frederick Fisher, “only an angel could land on it.” This guide will tell you everything you need to know to conquer the monolith safely and successfully.

When to visit

The trail is open year-round, but peak season is from March to October. If you’re brave enough to trek in the winter months, be aware of ice and snow on the trail that could make hiking unsafe. The winter, early spring, and late autumn will guarantee smaller crowds, but the summer promises sunshine and warmth.

As far as the best time of day goes, it again depends on the season. In the summer, it may be better to hike in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. The trip takes about five hours total, so make sure you have enough time to finish before dark if you come in the late afternoon or evening.

What to bring

Some essential supplies for hiking Angels Landing:

  • Sunscreen: No matter the season, sunscreen is a must. Most of the hike is void of shade and you can even get burned when it’s cloudy.

  • Lots of water: Angels Landing takes on average five hours round trip, and it is a strenuous hike, so make sure you stay hydrated.

  • Hiking shoes: Take care to wear shoes with good traction and support. Parts of the trail can be treacherous and slippery, even in fair weather.

  • Snacks and a lunch: Refuel yourself along the way. Take a break to eat lunch at the top and enjoy the view.

  • Layered clothing: If you’re hiking in the cooler winter months, you’ll want to dress warm, but make sure you layer so you can shed as the hike becomes more physically demanding.

Other items could include a camera, a map of the park, sunglasses, and of course a backpack to hold all your materials.

Where to go

The Angels Landing trail begins at the area known as the Grotto. If you’re riding the shuttle, get off at the Grotto shuttle stop. If you’re driving yourself into the park during the shuttle’s offseason, drive into the canyon and park when you reach the Grotto picnic area. From there, cross the road and the footbridge that spans the Virgin River and head up the West Rim trail. You’re on your way to Angels Landing!

What to expect

The trail leading to Angels Landing itself has five main sections, each offering their own unique experience and challenge.

You will begin your journey on the West Rim trail. A paved, well-maintained walkway begins to wind you among the trees and then up the side of the mountain in a series of long switchbacks. The higher you climb, the more you can see of the basin below, featuring the glittering Virgin River and a blend of multicolored stone.

After about a mile, the trail turns into a shady canyon to give you a break from the steep switchbacks. Greener vegetation grows beside the path, no longer dried up by the beating sun like the trees you just passed through. Carved out between Angels Landing and Cathedral Mountain, a breeze often blows through this passageway, giving it the name Refrigerator Canyon.

A sharp turn toward the end of the canyon takes you up another series of even steeper and more strenuous switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles. Each corner offers you a view down into Refrigerator Canyon and a chance to catch your breath.


When you reach the top of the Wiggles, you’ll be at Scout’s Lookout, a wide space featuring remarkable views of Zion Canyon. At this juncture, the West Rim trail continues through Cabin Spring and on to Lava Point, but the Angels Landing trail turns to lead up to the summit. Scout’s Lookout is the end of the road for many less experienced or less adventurous hikers and a good place to stop and snack.

The final stretch of the expedition is the Angels Landing trail itself. From Scout’s Lookout, it’s about half a mile to the summit, but it’s not an easy walk. The trail becomes narrow and rocky, and most parts have sheer cliffs on one or both sides. Hang on to the chains bolted into the rock for your security. Watch your step, be courteous of other hikers, and take it slow, and you’ll make it to the summit.

Once you’re at the top, take the time to relax for a few minutes and enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery and panoramic view of Zion Canyon. The summit is wide and flat, giving you the freedom to sit down and eat or walk around and take pictures before beginning your long descent. You did it!

Learn more

Find out more about Angels Landing and everything else there is to do in Zion by downloading our free eBook, Insider’s Guide to Zion National Park.

And now that you have all the information you need to successfully climb Angels Landing, it’s time to plan your next trip to Zion!

Family Forward Recap

June 11th, 2014

Our Family Forward Retreat in May brought a group of expert bloggers to our property.  The weekend was filled with adventure, interesting classes, and even a helicopter ride over Zion National Park. As we’ve followed these participants on social media, we’ve gained better insight into their impressions and experiences here at the Zion Ponderosa. Here are a few their comments (as seen on their blogs).

“I’d recommend the Zion Ponderosa to anyone – it was the perfect weekend of relaxing, nature, adventure, and good times. Sound like this if for you? Who wouldn’t want an awesome and AFFORDABLE family adventure retreat that includes your whole family (Yes! For kids of all ages!)? Then check out Family Forward: Mountain Adventure.”

-Kaylynn, Among the Young


“We had a wonderful time being taught all weekend long…, taking tons of pictures and videos, and of course, the epic excursions that we did every day. Mine included going horseback riding, flying in a helicopter, taking a tour in a jeep unimog, and skeet shooting.”

-Valeri, Keeping Up With Us Jones’


 ”There are so many awesome adventures you can take but I have to say my favorite was the canyoneering. I can’t describe how amazing it felt to accomplish something I had never done before. The support of our fabulous guides and the rest of the group made it an experience I will never forget. Sometimes the only way you can see the beauty of these areas of the park is to rappel off the edge of a cliff. Hanging from a rope in such a beautiful place is an amazing experience.”

-Leanne, Organize & Decorate Everything


Family Forward brought together a group of very different individuals who are all united in their desire to record life, their insights, and their experiences through blogging. They enjoyed the wide range of activities offered here, and we look forward to hosting this group again.


Kid’s Camp

June 7th, 2014

zion-parkid's camp

Since Memorial Day Weekend Kid’s Camp has been back up and running at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. This child care service is offered Monday-Sunday until Labor Day Weekend. Children ages 4-11 are able to participate in kid’s camp while their parents go explore.

While at Kid’s Camp, children participate in a variety of recreational activities led by three full-time Kid’s Camp counselors. Activities include swimming in our pool, childrens’ horse rides, experiencing our climbing wall, ziplining, the bungee trampoline, and at least one educational lesson.

Lessons are prepared by the counselors and include topics such as Native Americans, desert habitats, and geology. They are aimed towards helping the children better understand the environment around them and more fully appreciate their experience in Southern Utah. Amanda, a Kid’s Camp counselor this year, described their lessons as follows: “We want to make sure the kids are getting some sort of an educational component specific to the area where they are staying”. While learning in a fun environment, kids are able to form new friendships and enjoy adventures throughout the day.

Kid's Camp Counselors

Kid’s Camp Counselors

Register your child for Kid’s Camp by visiting our recreation desk no later than 5:45 pm the day prior to attending. Costs are five vouchers for a full day and three vouchers for a half day of camp. For more information, refer to our website.