Beyond Angel’s Landing, evading holiday hiking hordes

Thanksgiving and the crowds in many state and national parks are going to be inflated, but there are still ways to find seclusion and serenity…

After a hoodoo hike and camping in Bryce National Park we drove to Zion National Park on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. I’d visited Zion twice with family and was excited to see Dikko’s reaction to the gigantic sandstone and grand formations. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed with his “whoas” and “wowwwwws”!

Zion National Park

One of the windows you drive by in the tunnel at Zion National Park

towering sandstone

Towering cliffs on our drive into the park

We parked our car in Springdale and took the mandatory shuttle, partly to get bearings and pick up our permit for the upcoming Narrows thru-hike and also fit in a quick hike.

I was keen to do Angel’s Landing and, considering everyone else had the same idea, I prepared myself for a range of characters on the popular trail. There were the usuals – polite people, rude people, strollers and pretend trail runners, complaining children and happy children, excited and interested folk, bored and trudging folk. The one thing we all had in common, we were going up.

Beyond Angels Landing

Ants on the way to Angel’s Landing

Reaching the turnoff for Angel’s Landing the sight was something else. Like a low altitude, red Mount Everest the crowds waited in line as the single trail thinned and became exposed. We could see congested sections where people weren’t moving at all. I looked at Dikko, looked back at the crowds, and we continued further along the trail, leaving the swarm.

Within minutes less and less people appeared on the trail and eventually we had the place to ourselves. Finding a pleasant outcrop we sat for lunch, peering over to the Virgin River below, spotting climbers on a nearby arete.

Beyond Angels Landing

Beyond Angels Landing – a nice spot for lunch

Climbers on the arete

Climbers on the beautiful arete – they had no concerns for crowds

Checking the time we continued along further, the trail morphing from hardened sandstone slabs to pure sand. It’s always difficult to pick a turnaround spot as I prefer going to the end of a trail, or doing a loop, but we agreed as the path dipped downward it’d be best to retrace our steps.

Sandstone layers

Mesmerizing layers

birds

Less people equals more birds! Hard to spot (centre photo) but the song this little one made was amazing

views

The fin leading to Angel’s Landing had thinned out however was still busy on our return

I entertained the idea of going out to Angel’s Landing on the way back but again the ‘holiday hiking hordes monster’ was alive and salivating. We continued on our descent, admiring the stonework and trail engineering that supports so many visitors to this area of the park.

switchbacks

Peering down the switchbacks – our miniature highway

Reaching the base and crossing the river we hopped back on the shuttle and stopped at a couple more scenic points on the way out. Sometimes it’s good to hike busy trails, if you’re like me and prefer one or two friends and nature for company, then being around so many people reminds you how lucky you can be to find nooks and peace, most of the time just ten minutes off a popular trail.

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