The Temple of Aeolus

The Temple of Aeolus: The Original Angels Landing


7/22/20232 min read

The Temple of Aeolus: The Original Angels Landing
The Temple of Aeolus: The Original Angels Landing

The Temple of Aeolus: The Original Angels Landing

Known today as Angels Landing, the Temple of Aeolus is a renowned geological formation in Utah's Zion National Park. Rising 1,488 feet from the canyon floor, this towering monolith offers one of the most adventurous and rewarding hikes in the entire US National Park System.

Historical Overview

The early Anglo-European visitors to Zion Canyon applied their own labels to the canyon's prominent features. The monolith we now know as Angels Landing was originally named the "Temple of Aeolus." Aeolus, in Greek mythology, is known as the keeper of the winds, a fitting moniker given the monolith's high perch and exposure to the elements.

In 1916, the name was changed to Angels Landing during a visit by Frederick Fisher. Legend has it that Fisher, a Methodist minister, commented that the peak was so high that only angels could land on it.

Geological Features

Angels Landing, or the Temple of Aeolus, is composed of Navajo Sandstone. This formation is primarily the remnants of ancient sand dunes that have lithified or turned to rock over hundreds of millions of years.

Its distinctive, reddish hue is due to iron oxide, or rust, in the sandstone. The peak itself is a "fin," a geological term referring to a narrow, elongated ridge of resistant rock.

The Hike

The hike to the summit of Angels Landing, starting from the Grotto Trailhead, covers approximately 5.4 miles round trip. The route offers a substantial elevation gain and includes a series of switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles.

The final section of the hike, often termed the Hogsback or the Spine, is the most challenging and exhilarating. The trail narrows dramatically, with steep cliffs on both sides, and chains have been installed for hikers to hold onto.

Despite its challenges, reaching the summit of Angels Landing provides a spectacular 360-degree view of Zion Canyon, a rewarding sight for those who undertake the journey.


From its early days as the Temple of Aeolus to its current identity as Angels Landing, this iconic monolith has long captivated visitors' imaginations to Zion National Park. Although the hike to its summit is not for the faint-hearted, the unparalleled views and sense of accomplishment make it a bucket-list destination for hikers worldwide.