If you’ve been following us through our adventure in Utah you’re probably used to these marvelous mountains and beautiful colours you see all over the state. Angels Landing via Scouts Lookout is no different and provides some breathtaking moments. Every hike we’ve done we seem to think it’s the best hike in Utah. This one was also one of those! Zion National Park may be the most iconic National Park in the state and maybe even in the country.
We’ve heard so much about Angels Landing so we decided we would do that one first because of all the hype – and it did not disappoint. In this post you can also find information about the Information Point Trail which is another amazing hike in the area. Plus some general info about Zion National Park in winter for all you crazy people that hike year around
Here is a map of Zion National Park and the shuttle service for all the hikes. It’s better to open it now in a new tab. That way you can reference all the spots as we mention them throughout the post.
You may be wondering about the shuttle service? Yup, you got it right. Because of the popularity of the National Park you have to take a shuttle bus from one of the many spots on the map to the entrance of the park. Once you enter the park you have to take another shuttle bus to the dropoff location at the trailhead of the hike you’ll be doing. In our case this was Angels Landing.
It’s simple but actually quite the process to get there. From when you arrive at the National Park and get out of your car it can be another hour or two until you actually get to the trailhead. Be prepared for that!
With all that being said, Zion is absolutely beautiful and has some of the most amazing hikes we’ve ever done. So it’s understandable that Zion’s red cliffs and canyons attract people from all around the world.
Scouts Lookout via Angels Landing is Zion’s most iconic hike
Zion’s known as one of Utah’s “Big Five” or “Mighty Five” for a reason. In Zion alone, there are so many hikes to do but one that we couldn’t miss out on was Scout’s lookout via Angels Landing.
Probably the most iconic hike in the whole national park. It could be because of the 21 steep switchbacks you do, the stunning views into the valley below, or the crazy final stretch of the hike where you walk on this narrow ridge up to the summit of Angels Landing.
You can read later in this post if we recommend actually going to the top of Angel’s Landing or if going to the top of Scout’s Lookout in Zion is enough.
The hike itself is magical. Every switchback you conquer will leave you with a view of the valley below. You’ll notice how quickly you’re gaining elevation and the views just become more and more breathtaking.
Looking down from Walters Wiggles (the top part of the hike with the 21 switchbacks) will give you one of the most incredible views you will ever see in your life. The only way we can describe it is if we were to combine what we picture Mars and the Prehistoric Age of Dinosaurs to look like.
So definitely take in every view you possibly can because it’s pure joy while you’re up there. Especially if you only have one day in Zion like we did.
Scouts Lookout vs Angels Landing
We were planning on doing the whole hike but only went up to the top of Scouts Lookout. The main reason why we didn’t go was due to the amount of people trying to get to the top of Angels Landing.
The last little bit to the summit is a narrow ridge that has chains to help with the safety of that last stretch. But it didn’t do enough to make it worth climbing to the top. There were way too many people going in both directions on such a narrow ridge that it wasn’t worth it – and multiple people have died there.
We’re not saying don’t do it but just assess the situation once you’re there and make a responsible decision once you’re up there. Even if you only make it to the top of Scouts Lookout the hike is absolutely worth it and we loved it!
Scouts Lookout Zion
So now let’s go back to the Zion trail map to make the explanation a bit more visual. Once you enter the visitor center you will end up having to wait in line to get on a shuttle – unless you’re visiting Zion in winter when it’s less touristy.
When you get on the bus it will be another roughly 20 minute until you get to stop #6 which is also known as The Grotto. The Grotto is where you get off to start the hike and there are also “washrooms” (porter potties) and picnic tables if you want to have some food before embarking on your adventure for the day.
Once you’re ready to start the climb you will cross the road and walk over the bridge until you get to a T intersection. From there you will go right and head up the West Rim trail and begin the zig zags or switchbacks (whatever you like to call them). We personally love the name they’ve been given: Walters wiggles.
Eventually, the West Rim trail will continue on and you will follow it to Scout’s Lookout where we finished for the day. The lookout is a big area where you can enjoy your lunch and look back at the valley below and maybe even see some people hiking the Observation Point Trail which is another famous hike in Zion.
Practical information about Scouts Lookout trail
Distance: 8 km return / 4.97 miles return
Elevation: 497 m / 1630 ft. elevation gain
Type: Out and back
Length: 3.5 – 4 hours
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Here’s a map of the beginning of Angels Landing via Scouts Lookout
As long as you remember to get off at the right stop (#6) you will be fine. If you forgot about that already the map is here. There will likely be a good amount of people getting off at the same stop as you since it’s one of the main stops for longer hikes.
Worst case if you miss the stop because you’re taking in all the amazing views of the surroundings you will just have to wait until the bus gets to the end of route and comes back to #6 (or get off at #7 and come back).
When you get to the trail, there’s just one way up and one way down so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. As long as you turn onto the West Rim Trail at the T intersection you will find your way up to Scouts Lookout and eventually to the daring climb up the spine of the mountain up to Angels Landing.
Something most people don’t know is that you can continue past Scouts Lookout and go a bit further up to Boy Scouts Landing and you will actually be higher up than Angels Landing and the view is just as magical if not a little better.
It is a tough hike with all the switchbacks, elevation, ledges, and most of all the Utah sun. It’s nothing to mess with. So be prepared when you go hike this beauty.
Camping in Zion National Park
There are a few places to stay in Zion National Park. If you plan to camp in an RV or in a tent we have a few great and affordable options that you can pick from. We highly recommend staying for at least a few days since there is so much to see and do in the national park. So let’s give you our best options on where to stay.
South Campground in Zion National Park
South Campground is hands down the best campsite in the whole national park. Being able to camp inside the national park you won’t have to worry about waiting in line to get in and out of the park and you can just walk to stop #2 and beat the crazy lines people have to queue up for to get on the shuttle busses. So if you get the chance to stay at the South Campground then absolutely take it.
Of course lots of people want to stay there and you’re probably thinking that you have to book it a year in advance. As long as you can be there for 5-5:30am you should have a chance to get a spot. It’s a first come first serve basis so there are no reservations.
There are 117 spots total so hopefully you should be fine to get a spot. It’s the best $20 you will ever spend on a campsite. Here is a map of the campsite to give you a bit of an idea of the layout you can also see on the Zion trail map where the site is located.
This is probably the second best campground around Zion. The only difference between this one and the South Campground is that Watchman is located just south of the National Park entrance. So you have to go through the entrance when you want to enter the National Park and also when you go back to Watchman Campground.
On top of that you will have to queue up at the first stop and wait for the shuttle busses..but there’s not much else you can do about it. It’s not a big deal and it’s definitely the second best option if you’re planning a few days in Zion. Here is the map of the campsite which shows you just how close it is to the entrance and the size of it.
Watchman campsites are made for reservation so you can start to book earlier in the year if you plan to go in the summer during high season. Campsites start at $20 for tent sites and go up from there. With 170 sites available you should hopefully be able to get a spot. So if you know when you plan to go it wouldn’t hurt to book in advance.
The phone number for bookings can be found here at the top of the second page.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
If you’re looking for something basic just outside of the National Park then Ponderosa Ranch has everything you need. The sites are basic and great if you’re just wanting to tent under the Utah stars and have a few nights close to Zion.
A night is only $30 per two people and an extra $12 per person. On top of that the campsite has laundry, showers, wireless internet, picnic tables, and more. So basically everything you need to rough it a few nights in between the magical Utah mountains.
How to get to Zion National Park
From anywhere in Las Vegas
- It’s roughly a 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park.
- The directions can be found here.
From anywhere in Salt Lake City
- It’s roughly a 4.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City to Zion National Park.
- The directions can be found here.
From anywhere in Cedar City
- It will take you just under 1-2 hours to get to Bryce from Zion National Park depending on which way you go.
- The directions can be found here.
Before you go
Make sure to check the weather and plan accordingly before you go – and depending on which campsite you want to stay at, think about booking before time.
Zion is actually open during the winter months so you can hike all year around as long as the conditions are ok. Some hikes may temporarily be closed during the winter months so be prepared to have a backup plan.
If Angel’s Landing is closed we definitely recommend Observation Point in Zion and maybe even some of the other smaller hikes like Lower Emerald Pools.
We’d say the best time to go to Zion would be in early fall when it’s less busy. We went in October and it was fabulous.
What to bring
It’s most likely going to be very hot outside if you plan to go in any of the summer months. It’s Southern Utah after all! So bring anything that can protect you from the sun since you are in the desert and the days can get very hot. And all the switchbacks are very exposed to the sun.
- Water! Water! Water!
- Sunscreen is a must when you go anywhere hiking in Utah! Even if you go early in the morning.
- A camelbak (backpack full of water).
- Bring some food so you can enjoy it at the picnic spot “top of Scout’s Lookout”.
- Relax, and enjoy the views with a nice PB&J, trail mix, or whatever you like to snack on while hiking!
- Also this is a great list of hiking gear that you may need on a hike!
Alternative hike in Zion: Observation Point Lookout
If you have time for another day hike in Zion or you plan to stay a few days then we definitely recommend Observation Point Lookout. It’s just as scenic and iconic as Angel’s Landing but with just a slightly different view.
To get to the trailhead of Observation Point you will stay on the bus until you reach stop #7 which is known as the Weeping Rock. It’s the stop right after the Grotto. From there you will just continue until you see the trailhead and start your climb up to the Observation Point Lookout.
Other useful info
- Zion is open during the winter months
- In the 1920s Zion had roughly 3500 visitors a year. Nowadays you will see roughly 5 million people visit Zion every year.
- You can buy the America the Beautiful pass online here if you’re planning on visiting a bunch of national parks this year.
We hope you enjoy this hike in Zion as much as we did! Enjoy and stay safe out there!