Location: Zion National Park – Park Shuttle Map
Distance: 5.4 miles
Type: Day-hike; Out-and-back
Rating: Very Difficult (& Dangerous!)
Permits & Fees: $35 pass for one vehicle (good for 7 days). If parking in the town of Springdale, UT, right outside of the park entrance, it is $10 to park and $20 per person (good for 7 days). More information can be found here.
Make sure to bring shoes with excellent grip. During the fall and winter months, it gets very cold in the park, so gloves, scarves, hats, and anything else you need to stay warm is essential. It is important to be respectful and patient with other hikers. Due to the popularity of this hike, the crowds are enormous, even during the off-season. I would recommend taking the first shuttle of the day to beat the crowds.
Take the Park Shuttle to Stop 6, also known as The Grotto. Exit the shuttle and cross the paved road to get to the trail head. Cross the bridge over the Virgin River and you’re on your way! The beginning of the hike starts along the Virgin River and is relatively flat. After several minutes, the trail veers away from the river and heads into the canyon:
From here, there is a paved set of switchbacks, also known as Walter’s Wiggles, that leads up the mountain to the start of the infamous chains. (Fun Fact; These switchbacks are named after Walter Reusch, Zion National Park’s first Superintendent):
The last half mile is along a narrow trail with sheer drop-offs on each side. There are chains available to hang on to while climbing up to the summit. With the amount of people trying to make there way up or down, it is important to be alert and patient. Since this hike is popular, many tourists take for granted just how dangerous it actually is. I would NOT recommend this hike to beginners or young children.
The view at the top is well worth the climb. It is absolutely breathtaking and lives up to the hype- no picture can do it justice!
As I made my way back down to the start of the chains, I took my time and was careful passing other hikers on their way up.
Overall, this hike was incredible and the view is unlike anything I have seen before!