Observation Point, Zion National Park…looking down on Angels Landing

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Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah—C.Helbig

I knew it would be a tough sell convincing Mike to do Zion National Park’s signature Angels Landing hike. Heights are not his friend. One look at a photo of the razor-edge ridge with huge drop-offs on both sides was enough to make his hair stand on end. We opted instead for Observation Point, a spectacular hike through diverse terrain with killer views of Zion Canyon. The best part: we got to look down on Angel’s Landing from our perch way above. Observation Point is not without its own share of long drop-offs (only on one side though, and the trail is decently wide). I was proud of Mike for staying calm and focussed. It was another great day in Utah, exploring Zion National Park.

Observation Point, starting at Weeping Rock, is 8 mi/12.9 km roundtrip, with an elevation change of 2148 ft/655 m. I’d rate the hike as moderately strenuous when we did it on a perfect day in mid-November. I suspect it would feel much more strenuous in hot weather with the sun blazing down on you. The hike took us about 4.5 hours with extra time at the top to enjoy the view. The trail is long and steep in parts, but the footing is easy.

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The first set of switchbacks on the Observation Point hike—C.Helbig

Mercifully, or not, depending on how you look at things, a good chunk of elevation gain comes right at the start of the hike. For about 45 minutes, steep switchbacks snake up the side of the mountain. It’s a spectacular-looking engineering feat.

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Looking down at “Big Bend” along the Virgin River—C.Helbig

This is a hike where views start from the beginning and last straight through to the top. It makes the long climb a lot more enjoyable.  The photo above was taken near the beginning of the hike. You can just make out the road where the Zion Park shuttle bus dropped us off at the Weeping Rock stop. Little did we know at this stage of the hike that we were looking across to Angels Landing (in the mid-distance on photo).

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Echo Canyon along Observation Point hike—C.Helbig

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Beautiful rock formations at Echo Canyon—C.Helbig

After the first set of switchbacks, there’s a little reprieve when the trail levels off and enters Echo Canyon. One of the best things about this hike is its variety and Echo Canyon felt like a bonus mini-hike within the larger hike. I loved this section of the trail. You can’t help but feel the enormity of this place as the trail travels between sheer walls of rock.

After leaving Echo Canyon, the trail emerges onto a sunny bowl with glorious views. It’s pretty easy going for a short time. At the 2 mile mark, there is a junction with East Rim Trail. As you bear left for Observation Point, the switchbacks start again in earnest.

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Easy going and great views before the second set of switchbacks—C.Helbig

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Taking a break along the second set of switchbacks—C.Helbig

The steep zigzags continue for just over a mile until the trail reaches its top grade at the 3.2 mile mark. The views all along this section are stunning, though Mike was a tad perturbed by the sheer drop offs and clung close to the wall.

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Big views as we get closer to the top—C.Helbig

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The final approach to Observation Point—C.Helbig

The climb levels of at the final approach along the ridge of white cliffs. While Mike was most nervous on the switchbacks, this last relatively flat section gave me the hebegeebees. The path is quite wide but the massive drop that you can see all along the ridge is unnerving. But, we’re almost there! On the photo above, Observation Point is on the left side at the patch of red oxidation on the Navajo sandstone.

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Made it! Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah—C.Helbig

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Looking down on Angels Landing from Observation Point—C.Helbig

It was great to relax at the top and soak up the phenomenal views of Zion Canyon and the Virgin River. Looking down on the perilous ridge of Angels Landing confirmed that we had made the right decision to do the Observation Point hike. Bring binoculars and watch the parade of hikers creeping up Angels Landing.

On my next post I’ll share photos from the Pa’rus Trail—perhaps the easiest trail in Zion Park and incredibly beautiful. It was the ultimate cool-down after our Observation Point hike.

Categories: Activities, United States | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “Observation Point, Zion National Park…looking down on Angels Landing

  1. Pingback: 100th Post: Ten Places that have “Stuck with Me” | Writes of Passage

  2. Soooo cool. I would love to visit here one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always a Foreigner

    I had to google search for what Angel’s Landing hike was, and I can see how it would be a no-go for a lot of people. I think it looks awesome though! Have you heard of the Via Ferreta in Telluride? It’s semi-similar with a little bit of technical climbing involved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Angel’s Landing does look awesome and I’m thinking that next time I’m at Zion I may just have to do it on my own. I have been on several Via Ferrata routes (not the one in Telluride) and loved them (but you’re clipped in, unlike Angel’s Landing). Thanks for your comments!

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  4. Mike Hohmann

    Fantastic!!! What great photos and what great country. We shall return, just too much to see, gotta get back! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Hebegeebees” describes spot-on how I feel every time I watch Angel’s Landing hike videos! Like Mike, that hike’s a no-go for me. Our time at Zion this summer will be shorter than originally anticipated, so we won’t be able to do the W. Rim Trail after all. Observation Point sounds perfect for our time frame, though. Reading your post gives me courage to push through my acrophobia–the payoffs look immense! Wonderful info–bookmarking for our trip, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you’ll be fine on this beautiful trail. I don’t have any regrets about hiking Observation Point rather than Angel’s Landing. Given that Observation Point is a lot higher, the view is probably better and it only gets a fraction of the hikers. A fellow hiker, who had done Angel’s Landing the day before, told us that it had been a mad procession of people snaking their way up the narrow ridge (and this was mid-week in October). Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Pa’rus Trail, Zion National Park: Not Just Another Walk in the Park | Writes of Passage

  7. Very cool! I’ve done Angel’s Landing so it’s neat to see the view from the other side of the canyon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We’re looking at a trip to this area and it’s great to get such detailed trail reports, especially because I share you husband’s feelings about trails like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rich, thanks for stopping by and for your comments. We loved Zion National Park and all the other spots in Utah/Arizona that I’ve posted about recently…so much beauty and wonderful hiking opportunities. I am sure you will enjoy the area. If you ever have any specific questions about the hikes, I’m happy to provide my two cents worth. Cheers!

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  9. What an amazing hike Caroline.Stunning photos. Looks like it was a glorious day with all the blue skies. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Louise! It was a beautiful day. Our little break to the US Southwest in November came at the perfect time. Vancouver had 58 out of 61 days of rain in the months of Oct/Nov, so great to “dry-out” for a bit. Cheers, Caroline

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  10. Echo Canyon looks awesome, as are the steep switchbacks going up! Great report, I’d love to do this hike this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such great photos. I’m glad you (and Mike!) enjoyed the hike. Echo Canyon is definitely like a bonus hike too; that’s a perfect way of putting it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a fabulous hike! And great photos – amazing landscape. I would love to do this.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sorry to give you a scare Peta! That second photo looks much nastier than it really is. It helped a lot that the trail was wide and smooth. I was impressed with Mike and had expected a few “freak out” moments but he was fine. If you really want to scare yourself you should google photos for Angels Landing. Don’t dismiss Zion though, there are some absolutely amazing walks/hikes with zero fear factor and stunning beauty. I’m getting to those next. I like being called intrepid adventurers haha!

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  14. My bucket list gets longer every time you post. Thanks for sharing – GREAT photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Amazing scenery but way more amazing is Mike! When I saw that second photo of the paths my stomach literally lurched and I started breaking out in a sweat! I cannot do sheer drops. He is SuCH a trooper! You guys are intrepid adventururers. Full and due respect! Thanks for the gorgrous pics cos I will not be there in this lifetime 🙂
    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Best of Hiking, Ambling, and Driving in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona | Writes of Passage

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