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The US’s Most Beautiful Day Hike Is Also Its Most Terrifying

The US’s Most Beautiful Day Hike Is Also Its Most Terrifying

Travel brings out a different side in people – a side that’s more outgoing, more willing to try new things, eat exotic foods or venture off the beaten track. Call it passion, call it excitement, call it the ‘travel bug’ – whatever it is, it’s the thing that drives you to try chicken cartilage in Japan or get out of bed a 4am to hike towards the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. That feeling is great – but sometimes it can be terrifying. Especially when it’s telling you to hike to Angels Landing at Zion National Park.

Upon seeing the incredible view from the top of Angels Landing in the header there, your visceral reaction is probably something along the lines of “huh, that looks cool.” But you should know – getting to that spot up there is going to take guts. Lots and lots of guts. Do you have guts?


Distinguished by its steep red cliffs, Zion National Park in southwest Utah is an incredible site to see – the best way to see it however, is from about 450 metres above ground. Angels Landing is the park’s pride and joy and features a narrow rock fin with dizzyingly high drop-offs on both sides. Fun!

This towering monolith is conquered by thousands of hikers each year, all of whom aim to get to the lofty perch at the top which boasts spectacular views in every direction.

Photo: Chetan Kolluri/Flickr

The intimidating eight kilometre hike takes your average punter about five hours to complete – and be warned, this is definitely not for your sandal-wearing weekend walker. This is the big leagues – hiking boots are a must, as is an indeterminate amount of courage.

The route roughly follows the path of the Virgin River, slowly gaining elevation in the sandy terrain. As the proper ascent begins through a series of zig-zaging switchbacks (adorably called Walter’s Wiggles), the trail climbs up Zion Canyon towards Angels Landing. Scout Lookout is generally considered the turnaround point for those unwilling to cheat death to get to the final summit, but if you want to push on you’ll be met by strenuous climbs, sharp drop off points and increasingly narrow paths.

Yeah… nahhhh.

Photo: Chetan Kolluri/Flickr

Support chains have been anchored to help you keep your balance, but the best advice out is to not rely on these and instead make sure you have steady footing with each step.

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The Eiffel Tower

If the thought of all this is making you a little queasy (I feel you) there is a way to see the hike without even having to leave your house. Check it out in video form below:


Hahaha. Nope.

(Lead image: Jesse/Flickr)

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