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Observation Point Vs. Angel’s Landing In Zion, Which Is Better?


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Emlyn Penny



When it comes to exploring the beautiful wonders of nature, Zion National Park in Utah is a top destination. With its stunning red rock cliffs, winding canyons, and breathtaking vistas, it offers an abundance of natural beauty to discover. Among the many attractions within the park, two notable hiking trails often stand out in visitors’ minds: Observation Point and Angel’s Landing. Both trails provide awe-inspiring views and exhilarating experiences, but which is the better choice for adventure enthusiasts?


In this article, we will compare Observation Point and Angel’s Landing to help you decide which trail may be more suited to your preferences and hiking abilities. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker seeking a thrilling challenge or a casual adventurer looking to soak in the scenic beauty, understanding the differences between these two trails will help you make an informed decision and maximize your enjoyment in Zion National Park.


Before we delve into the details, it’s important to note that both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing are considered strenuous hikes and require a certain level of fitness and caution. Proper preparation, including wearing appropriate footwear, bringing plenty of water, and being aware of your physical limitations, is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience on either trail.


Now, let’s explore the key aspects that set Observation Point and Angel’s Landing apart and find out which one may be the perfect fit for your next adventure in Zion National Park.


Location and Accessibility

Observation Point and Angel’s Landing are located within Zion National Park in southwestern Utah, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the park’s breathtaking landscapes. However, these trails differ in their starting points and accessibility.


Angel’s Landing is located in the heart of Zion Canyon, making it easily accessible from the park’s main shuttle bus stop. After disembarking the shuttle, you’ll make your way to the Grotto Trailhead, where the hike officially begins. This convenience grants hikers quick access to this iconic trail, which is a major draw for those seeking a thrilling adventure.


On the other hand, Observation Point is situated on the eastern side of the park and requires a longer journey to reach. To access the trailhead, visitors will need to drive or take a shuttle to the Weeping Rock parking area and hike the East Rim Trail to reach Observation Point. While this adds an extra level of effort to reach the trail, it also offers a quieter and less crowded experience compared to Angel’s Landing, which is often bustling with tourists.


Both trails boast unique starting points that add to the overall appeal of the hike. Angel’s Landing starts with a series of switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles, followed by the notorious chain section that offers an exciting challenge for daredevils. On the other hand, Observation Point starts with a gradual uphill climb on the East Rim Trail, treating hikers to glimpses of stunning canyons along the way.


In terms of accessibility, Angel’s Landing is the more convenient choice for visitors who prefer easier access and a more central location within the park. However, if you’re willing to venture a bit further and enjoy a quieter hiking experience, Observation Point offers a unique and scenic alternative.


Trail Difficulty

When it comes to selecting a hiking trail, understanding the difficulty level is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing present their own challenges, and it’s important to assess your fitness level and hiking experience before choosing the trail that suits you best.


Angel’s Landing is notorious for its steep and narrow sections, often referred to as the “spine” of the trail. The final half-mile stretch to the summit is particularly challenging, featuring a section with chains to assist hikers in navigating the steep drop-offs. This portion requires careful foot placement and a head for heights. While exhilarating, the exposed nature of the trail can be intimidating for those with a fear of heights or who have limited hiking experience.


Alternatively, Observation Point offers a less technical but still physically demanding hike. The trail is longer than Angel’s Landing, measuring about 8 miles round trip, and features a steady ascent along switchbacks. The incline can be strenuous on the legs, but the path is wider and less treacherous than Angel’s Landing, making it a more accessible choice for hikers of varying experience levels.


It’s worth noting that weather conditions can also impact the difficulty level of each trail. Both trails can get hot during the summer months, so it’s crucial to hike early in the day and bring an ample supply of water. Additionally, icy or slippery conditions can occur during the winter and early spring on the exposed sections of Angel’s Landing, adding an extra element of challenge and caution.


Ultimately, if you’re an experienced hiker looking for a thrilling adventure with some exposure, Angel’s Landing may be the trail for you. However, if you prefer a longer hike with a more gradual incline and less exposure, Observation Point offers a challenging yet rewarding alternative.


Scenic Views

One of the main draws of hiking in Zion National Park is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing offer stunning scenic views, but the perspectives they provide are unique in their own way.


Angel’s Landing is renowned for its panoramic views of Zion Canyon. As you ascend the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the towering cliffs, winding river, and lush vegetation below. Once you reach the final destination, the summit of Angel’s Landing, you’ll be rewarded with a commanding view of the entire canyon, including landmarks such as The Organ and Cathedral Mountain. The sense of accomplishment and the sweeping views make it a memorable experience for those brave enough to tackle the trail.


On the other hand, Observation Point offers a different perspective of Zion National Park. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to gaze down upon Zion Canyon, but from a higher elevation and a different angle. The view from Observation Point showcases a vast expanse of the park, including landmarks such as Angels Landing and the Great White Throne. The unique perspective and the expansive vista make Observation Point a favorite among photographers and nature enthusiasts.


Another factor to consider is the variety of landscapes along each trail. Angel’s Landing takes you through a dramatic ascent on a narrow ridge, providing close-up views of the surrounding cliffs and canyons. The trail is dotted with vibrant wildflowers, adding to the picturesque scenery. Observation Point, on the other hand, takes you through a diverse landscape, including shaded canyons, towering cliffs, and exposed plateaus. The changing scenery adds an element of surprise and keeps the hike visually captivating from start to finish.


Ultimately, both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing offer unparalleled scenic views that showcase the beauty of Zion National Park. Whether you prefer the sweeping panoramas of Angel’s Landing or the unique perspective of Observation Point, you’re in for a visual feast that will leave a lasting impression.


Crowds and Tourist Traffic

When embarking on a hiking adventure, the presence of crowds and tourist traffic can greatly impact the overall experience. Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing attract a significant number of visitors, but their popularity and the level of congestion can differ.


Angel’s Landing is one of Zion National Park’s most well-known and iconic hikes, drawing hikers from around the world. As a result, it tends to be more crowded, especially during peak seasons and weekends. The narrow sections of the trail, particularly the chain section, can feel congested as hikers navigate their way up and down. Waiting times and congestion can also be experienced at the top, where hikers gather to take in the panoramic views. If you prefer a hike with a more social atmosphere or thrive in busy environments, Angel’s Landing may be the choice for you.


In contrast, Observation Point offers a slightly less crowded experience. While still popular, especially among seasoned hikers, it tends to receive fewer visitors compared to Angel’s Landing. The longer and more challenging trail deters some tourists, resulting in a lower level of congestion and a more serene hiking experience. At Observation Point, you’re more likely to find solitude and quiet moments to immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings.


It’s important to note that the level of crowd and tourist traffic can vary depending on the time of year and the day of the week. Both trails tend to be busier during summer weekends and holidays. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider hiking on weekdays or during the off-peak seasons.


Regardless of the crowd levels, it’s important to practice proper trail etiquette and be respectful of other hikers. Allow faster hikers to pass, pack out any trash, and maintain a peaceful and enjoyable environment for everyone on the trail.


In summary, if you thrive in a more social and bustling atmosphere, Angel’s Landing’s popularity may be appealing. However, if you prefer a more peaceful and less crowded experience, Observation Point offers a quieter alternative.


Wildlife Encounters

One of the perks of hiking in Zion National Park is the opportunity to encounter the park’s diverse wildlife. Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing offer the chance to spot various animal species, but the likelihood and type of wildlife encounters may differ.


Angel’s Landing, located in the heart of Zion Canyon, is known for its abundance of wildlife. The adjacent Virgin River provides a water source, attracting animals such as mule deer, squirrels, and birds. Lucky hikers may even spot a bighorn sheep perched on the cliffs, showcasing their impressive climbing abilities. However, due to its popularity and higher foot traffic, wildlife sightings on Angel’s Landing can be limited. The noise and activity from hikers can cause the animals to retreat to quieter areas.


Observation Point, situated on the eastern side of the park, offers a more secluded and tranquil experience, making it an ideal spot for wildlife encounters. As you hike along the trail, keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, snakes, chipmunks, and a wide variety of bird species. The less crowded nature of the trail allows for wildlife to roam more freely, increasing the chances of spotting them along the way.


It’s important to approach wildlife with caution and respect their natural habitat. Keep a safe distance, never attempt to feed or touch them, and observe quietly to avoid causing unnecessary stress to the animals. Remember that you are a guest in their environment, and it is your responsibility to protect and preserve the wildlife.


In addition to land animals, both trails offer opportunities to spot soaring raptors and other bird species. The expansive views from Observation Point and the cliffs of Angel’s Landing provide excellent vantage points for birdwatching. Binoculars or a zoom lens can enhance your experience and allow you to appreciate these winged creatures in their natural habitat.


Whether you choose Observation Point or Angel’s Landing, be prepared for potential wildlife encounters and make sure to follow all guidelines and regulations to ensure both your safety and the well-being of the animals.


Safety Measures

When venturing into the great outdoors, safety should always be a top priority. Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing present their own challenges, so it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure a safe hiking experience.


For Angel’s Landing, the exposed sections and narrow ridge require extra caution and careful foot placement. The chain section, in particular, can be intimidating for those with a fear of heights or limited hiking experience. To stay safe on Angel’s Landing, consider the following safety measures:

  1. Wear appropriate footwear with good traction to navigate the steep and sometimes slippery sections.
  2. Take your time and move at a pace that you’re comfortable with. Rushing can lead to accidents.
  3. Use the chains as support when necessary, but be cautious not to rely solely on them.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings and the placement of your feet at all times. Stay focused on the trail.
  5. Pay attention to weather conditions. Rain can make the trail slippery, while high winds can make the exposed sections more dangerous.

Observation Point, while less exposed, still requires proper safety measures to ensure an enjoyable hike. Consider the following precautions:

  1. Stay hydrated and bring enough water, especially during hot weather. The longer and more challenging trail can be physically demanding.
  2. Apply sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, as much of the trail is exposed.
  3. Be mindful of your physical limits and listen to your body. Take breaks when needed and don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities.
  4. Inform someone of your hiking plans, including your expected time of return and which trail you’ll be hiking.
  5. Stay on designated trails and avoid venturing off into unknown or dangerous areas.

Regardless of which trail you choose, it’s always a good idea to check the park’s website or visit the visitor center for any trail closures or safety advisories. Remember, nature can be unpredictable, so preparedness and vigilance are essential for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


Amenities and Facilities

When planning a hiking trip, it’s important to consider the amenities and facilities available along the trail. Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing offer certain amenities to enhance the hiking experience, although the level of resources may differ.


Angel’s Landing, being one of Zion National Park’s most popular trails, provides more amenities due to its accessibility and high visitor traffic. Near the trailhead, you’ll find restrooms and water refill stations, allowing you to replenish your water supply before embarking on the hike. Additionally, the park’s shuttle system provides convenient transportation to and from the trailhead, making it easy to access for hikers without personal vehicles. If you’re looking for convenience and easy access to amenities, Angel’s Landing has you covered.


Observation Point, located on the less crowded eastern side of the park, offers more limited amenities. There are restroom facilities available at the Weeping Rock parking area, which is the starting point for the East Rim Trail leading to Observation Point. However, since the trail is more secluded, it is advisable to come prepared with sufficient water and snacks to sustain you throughout the hike. The lack of immediate amenities adds to the sense of adventure and self-sufficiency when embarking on the Observation Point trail.


Regardless of which trail you choose, it’s important to be environmentally conscious and practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out whatever you bring in, dispose of waste responsibly, and respect the natural surroundings. This ensures that future hikers can enjoy the trails just as much as you did.


After completing your hike, take advantage of the facilities available at the park’s visitor center, where you can learn more about Zion National Park’s history, geology, and wildlife. The visitor center also provides opportunities to purchase souvenirs and obtain additional information on other trails and activities within the park.


Whether you prefer the convenience of Angel’s Landing’s amenities or the more rugged experience of Observation Point, both trails offer an unforgettable adventure amidst the stunning landscapes of Zion National Park.



When faced with the choice between Observation Point and Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, it ultimately comes down to personal preferences and hiking abilities. Both trails offer their own unique features and challenges, making them memorable experiences for adventurers of all kinds.


If you seek a thrilling and iconic hike with breathtaking views, Angel’s Landing may be the trail for you. The exposed sections and steep drop-offs provide an adrenaline rush, and the panoramic vistas of Zion Canyon are truly awe-inspiring. However, be prepared for crowds and traffic, especially during peak seasons, and exercise caution on the narrow and challenging terrain.


On the other hand, if you prefer a longer hike with less exposure and a quieter atmosphere, Observation Point offers a rewarding alternative. The vigorous ascent and diverse landscapes along the way provide a sense of accomplishment, and the unique vista from the top showcases the beauty of Zion National Park from a different perspective.


Regardless of your choice, remember to prioritize safety by adhering to proper trail etiquette, bringing essential supplies, and being aware of your physical limits. Stay hydrated, wear appropriate footwear, and be prepared for changing weather conditions.


Both Observation Point and Angel’s Landing offer a chance to immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Zion National Park and create lasting memories. Whether you’re an experienced hiker seeking a thrilling challenge or a nature enthusiast looking for breathtaking views, you won’t be disappointed by the splendor that awaits you on either trail.


So lace up your boots, embrace the spirit of adventure, and embark on a journey to witness the majestic beauty of Zion National Park. Whether you choose the spine-tingling heights of Angel’s Landing or the more secluded path to Observation Point, prepare to be enthralled by the wonders of nature that await you.