On our third day in Zion, we were focused on seeing the canyon from above instead of from below. Angel’s Landing was on the original to-do list for this park. It is the talk of the town in Zion, with its amazing views and treacherous stretch of trail on which visitors ascend the narrow rock ridge while holding on to chains to avoid falling to their deaths, which has happened to a few hikers in the past. So Angel’s Landing definitely has the ‘wow’ factor in Zion. But our instinct told us that all this hubbub would mean a more crowded trail, so we chose, instead to hike to Observation Point.
The trail for observation points starts in the canyon at the Weeping Rock trailhead. It begins by sending you up a series of steep switchbacks until you reach Echo Canyon. The trail passes through this more narrow part of the canyon and leads you to a point where you can look down onto the fluted walls of the small slot canyon. Until you
reach the final destination, this is the most dramatic part of the trail. After passing Echo Canyon the trail keeps climbing; it winds around rock walls, takes you on long, straight stretches on the edge of canyon walls, and switchbacks a few more times here and there. Along the way, you get views of the Zion Canyon and also of the more rolling and lumpy rock formations outside of the main canyon walls. The last stretch of trail takes you along the edge of a canyon wall where you can see the final destination and then around a curve in the canyon through a low shrubby forest until you reach Observation Point.
From Observation Point you look down on Angel’s Landing, which doesn’t come as close to the top of the canyon as the Observation Point trail. You have a clear view of Zion Canyon: the massive monoliths of stone looming over the Virgin River. With just a handful of people in the wide-open space at the top, it’s easy to settle in and enjoy to views without feeling like you’re being crowded out so the next round of hikers can get a peek.
After we had thoroughly soaked in the views and the largeness of Zion, we went briskly down the trail so we could stop by the Human History Museum before it closed. After talking to our camping neighbor that night about the hordes of hikers at Angel’s Landing, we were definitely glad we chose to get our canyon views from the quieter Observation Point.