Angels Landing Trail is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes

Angels Landing, known earlier as the Temple of Aeolus,is a 1,488-foot (454 m) tall rock formation in Zion National Park in southern Utah. A trail, cut into solid rock in 1926, leads to the top of Angels Landing and provides a spectacular view of Zion Canyon.

Legend has it Angels Landing received it’s name when Frederick Fisher, exploring Zion with friends in 1916, exclaimed, “Only an angel could land on it!” Ten years later, Thomas Chalmers Vint and Walter Ruesch, both Park Service employees, planned and led construction of the Angels Landing Trail as an extension of the existing West Rim Trail. An impressive feat of trail-building, the trail was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1987.

Angels Landing is one of the most exciting, intimidating, and famous trails in the National Park Service. In many places, steps were hewn out of the rock and thick chain installed along the knife-edge ridge to provide security for the non-mountaineer. Many find the final ridge too much, and wait at the “Widow’s Tree” for their companions to return from the summit. Those who continue to the top will enjoy amazing views of Zion Canyon, from a lofty perch.

Angels Landing was named a century ago by Frederick Vining Fisher, a Methodist minister so in awe of the massive sandstone cliff that he surmised that only angels might land on it. The name stuck, and the trail was built in the 1920s. Now, the five-mile round-trip route gets thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.

Hikers become reacquainted with their cardiovascular systems as they ascend, catching glimpses of the angelic summit as they go. They hear their own heartbeats, which fall into a steady rhythm with their breathing and footsteps. After a few switchbacks that are carved into the side of a vertical rock face, they can look down at hikers who started their climb from the next shuttle bus 30 minutes after they did. Down there, people look like ants.

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