Zion National Park is best known for two hikes: The Narrows and Angel’s Landing. The Narrows was one of the most fun hikes we have done yet on the trip and I will recount it soon, but Angel’s Landing was one I knew I couldn’t go near. And after visiting the park, it almost seems a bit over-rated, even though to be fair I can’t say for myself. Maybe I’m just bitter that it’s fate-temptingly narrow (1-2 feet wide at points), uneven ridge with 1000-plus foot drop offs on either side would have sent me into a numbing panic attack several steps in, or that my stomach would turn thinking about how easy it would be for someone to misstep and fall to their death on a crowded trail regardless of whether there were chains to hold onto. Nonetheless, lucky for me, Zion also offers a much less traveled hike that still offers a little thrill and an even better view (all-around win), called Observation Point.
When we spoke to a park ranger about this hike, I got even more excited when they said that it was almost every ranger in the park’s favorite trail. This 2,200 foot climb over four miles is an out and back trail that offers spectacular and different views at every corner. Our friend, Rob, had come out to join us on this part of the trip, so we were excited to take him on this one.
We took the shuttle bus from South Campground to the Weeping Rock stop, where the trailhead lies just yards ahead. We were to start on the Weeping Rock Trail, then take the Observation Point Trail and follow it around to the top.
The climb begins pretty much at the beginning of the trail. It is pretty unrelenting – knowing what was still to come, we almost felt like we weren’t going to make it all the way! Eventually we broke our legs in and got into a groove, but I was still very appreciative that we were both shaded and there in comfortable mid-autumn as opposed to the summer. Steep switchbacks up the slightly rocky trail make very quick vertical progress as the view gets increasingly more beautiful of the stretch of Zion Canyon which it faces.
We didn’t know until the way down, but we could see our high-up destination from here, as marked by the natural reddish “V”. We joked that if he had seen that from the start, we probably would have turned right back around. It does look a little intimidating from the ground, that’s for sure!
Eventually, the trail turns to flat sand and takes you through a beautiful slot canyon. I loved the chance to take in some fall colors on this portion, too, as I was certainly missing those not being the Northeast this year.
The trail then starts to climb again and begins to turn into sun exposure. The view changes to red canyon walls dotted with trees and the dropoffs on one side of the trail start to increase to dizzying heights. The wideness of the trail kept it from being too bothersome for me though, or maybe I was just distracted by the amazing view and keeping up my energy…
Eventually, the trail turns to flat red sand again (we learned to equate sand with smoother trail) as the last spur of the trail is an appreciated leisurely stroll through some small trees and brush on the wide ridge that leads to the Point.
Once we reached the end, the view was more than worth the effort. As though what we had been seeing all along wasn’t beautiful enough, this was certainly one of the most regal views we’ve seen yet on our trip. Looking down Zion Canyon and overlooking, yes, Angel’s Landing, it felt as though we were worlds away from the ground down below.
After stopping to eat lunch, we pummeled back down the mountain, continuing to take in the gorgeous views and fall colors along the way.