Trail running in Zion National Park has seriously been on my bucket list for ten years now. When Andy and I first got married we did a road trip out to the Grand Canyon and skirted the National Parks in Utah, gunning it straight to Arizona, not having enough time in Utah. This trip however, I was determined to spend as much time running trails and exploring as much of Zion as possible. Also being kid free on this trip, and having a ladies trail running trip instead, really allowed us to adventure far into the trail networks scattered around Zion National Park.
Travel to Zion National Park.
I flew into Salt Lake City to meet up with my trail bestie, Sara, and we jumped in the car and drove the 4 hours to Zion National Park. You can also fly into Vegas and it is only a 3 hour drive. The roads are great and the drive is easy. Book accommodation before you go, Zion National Park is one of the busiest National Parks in the US, and finding somewhere to stay can be a nightmare. We stayed in a great campground called Zion Canyon Campground, which was so great! The bathrooms were clean, they have a POOL and most of the people staying there were hikers or climbers, so in bed early and up early out in the parks. It’s also only about $40/per site per night, so if you are just sleeping there, the choice is a no brainer. The shuttle service pick up point is right out front of the campground, or it is only a half mile walk to the gate of Zion National Park. Parking your car in Zion is about $20/day, so we just left our car at the campground and walked everywhere. It was awesome.
Getting to Angels Landing & Zion West Rim Trail Head.
If you can buy your annual National Parks Pass before hand, do so. You can literally pick this up at any REI an it only costs $80 for the year and gets up to four adults (or one car) into the parks. Ok get ready to fight some crowds. I think Zion National Park clearly advertises monthly in the AARP magazine because this is the number one destination for the over 70. But that is ok because where we are running no one really makes it out that far. So get on the free Zion Shuttle bus at the gate, and get off at Stop 6 - The Grotto (see image below).
Running Angels Landing, Zion West Rim & Telephone Loop.
Once you are off the bus head across the road over the bridge and start the trail up to Angels Landing. You can also download the All Trails Map Here for Angels Landing, West Rim & Telephone Loop. The first two miles of this trail is up with 21 switchbacks up to Angels Landing. This trail is packed with hikers of all ages. It is claimed to be one of the hardest trails in the park, but it is still super busy and annoying as people do not move aside and walk all over the trail. But once you reach the top, hardly anyone keeps going and you have this trail basically to yourself.
The terrain changes around each corner, and the views get more spectacular. From sweeping views into the canyon below, to corridors of rock or Ponderosa Pine forests it just gets more spectacular.
At the loop there is a small spring, nothing to write home about, but if you needed to filter water there is a chance to do it here. It gets hot and exposed at the top at around mile 7. And being a desert it is dry, so pack in a lot of water and food to stay hydrated. It is really steep going up and doing the full loop is around 14 miles and about 4,000 feet of climbing. So if you like poles, I would bring them. I forgot mine, and totally regretted it.
Coming down is so beautiful though, and hugging the sides of the mountain cliffs the views are gorgeous. The trail is a bit technical and I took my time coming down. Once you hit the concrete trail at Angels Landing it is a really nice smooth run down those 21 switchbacks again. However, try not to run into any tourists who are hogging the trails and not paying attention. It finishes back at the Virgin River, and soaking in that ice cold water is good for tired trail muscles.
This was one of my favorite loops in Zion National Park, and you really do get to see so many different views of rock, canyons, boulders and mountain. It is a hard climb up to the top, but really worth it if you want a good day out.
Angels Landing and the West Rim of Zion National Park Trail Run Gallery:
You can check out more photos of this adventure on my Instagram here.