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Angels Landing, Zion Canyon, Utah
The hike: No, the "chain section" of Angels Landing, a five-mile (round trip) hike in Utah's Zion Canyon, does not refer to nearby Wendy's and Applebee's. Rather, it's a series of chains bolted into a fin of sandstone near the top of this 1,500-foot mountain to help keep folks from falling into the abyss. Even when the trail's not so steep, there are dizzying views of the canyon-carved country, the Virgin River, groves of Douglas fir trees, and rock climbers on nearby walls. To embark on this two- to four-hour trek is to enter a fairy tale—as long as you're not prone to a fear of heights.
Peak experience: Conquering "Walter's Wiggles," a zigzag of 21 tight turns (pictured) ascending 500 feet to killer views from Scout Lookout, about two miles in and just before your turnaround point.
Base camp: The stunningly located Cable Mountain Lodge in nearby Springdale; all 50 modern, neutral-toned rooms have pillow-topped king-size beds, and the swimming pool is surrounded by steep, red canyon walls (doubles from $149).
When to go: In September, when the crowds are gone, the skies are clear, and high temperatures have cooled to the upper 70s.