Julie United States 57 Comments

Angels Landing is the most popular hike in Zion National Park. This hike, along with The Narrows, draws thousands of visitors per year, most of them during the summer months.

Why is Angels Landing so popular? This is a hike where it is more about the journey than the destination. Yes, the view from the top of Angels Landing is spectacular, but it’s the final climb along the narrow ridge that draws so many people here. With chain-assisted rock scrambling sections, stunning views, and vertigo-inducing heights, this really is a thrilling hike.

For adventure seekers, this is definitely a great hike to put on your bucket list. We have hiked a lot of places around the world, and this hike is one of our favorites.

But there are some things you should know in order to have the best experience.

Facts About the Angels Landing Hike

Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length of Time: 3 to 5 hours
When to go: Year round, although the best seasons are Spring and Fall.
Trailhead: The Grotto (stop #6 on the Zion Shuttle)

Important Note: Crowds on the trail to Angels Landing have been enormous over the past year. The trails to Hidden Canyon, Observation Point, and Weeping Rock are closed, giving hikers limited options in Zion National Park. 

Our Experience

First Shuttle of the Day

We were in Zion National Park the first week of May. Knowing about the legendary traffic on the trail, Tim and I decided to get an early start to the day.

The first shuttle of the day was at 7 am. At the advice of the park rangers, we lined up early, maybe a bit too early (yes…we were eager to get started!). At 6:30 am we were the first two people in line. By 7 pm, just enough people arrived to completely fill the first shuttle. And almost all of us were heading to the same place…Angels Landing.

West Rim Trail

From The Grotto shuttle stop, we crossed the Virgin River to get to the trailhead. Almost immediately we could see the monolith of Angels Landing in front of us. Pretty soon, we’d be standing up there.

First View of Angels Landing

The first two miles of the hike is on the West Rim Trail. It is a steady, uphill climb on a wide, paved trail. After a steady, monotonous uphill slog, the trail enters Refrigerator Canyon, a cool, shady canyon. This is a good place to catch your breath and cool off, if you need to. This is the only shady part of the hike.

West Rim Trail, the first section of the hike to Angels Landing.

The trail before Refrigerator Canyon

Walter’s Wiggles

Next up are Walter’s Wiggles, 21 switchbacks that get your thighs burning and your heart pumping. You know you are getting close to the top when you start climbing Walter’s Wiggles.

Walters Wiggles Zion

Walters Wiggles

Scout Lookout

At the top of Walter’s Wiggles is Scout Lookout. From here, we had our first view of the trail along the ridge.

From Scout Lookout, it’s just 500 feet of climbing to go. Now the real fun begins.

Angels Landing View

The Final Climb to Angels Landing

Tim and I hike at a fast pace, so by this point only a handful of people were in front of us. For the most part, we had the trail to ourselves.

At first, the trail does not seem too dangerous. This is a good spot to practice using those chains before you get to the real drop offs.

Chains on Angels Landing

Angels Landing Chain

The view of the final climb to Angels Landing.

Zion

The middle section of the spine is where things really get interesting. There is a lot of exposure here. The trail narrows to just a few feet wide, with drop offs on either side. With the help of the chains, you have to scramble up and down sandstone steps and boulders. The Virgin River looks tiny down in the valley below, if you dare look down from here. This part of the trail is a blast, if you like this kind of thing.

Angels Landing Hike

Tim Rivenbark

Looking down

No chain assist

Steps on the trail

Julie on Angels Landing

Steep Climb Angels Landing

Then, it’s one final climb to the top.

Angels Landing Chains

Tim and I made it to the top of Angels Landing in just under an hour. It was 8:30 am and we joined about ten other people at the peak. The view is magnificent, although this early in the morning, most of the valley is still in shadow. There are also a crazy number of chipmunks up here and they are not at all shy about trying to steal your food.

View from Angels Landing

Tim and Julie Angels Landing

This is the view of the narrow ridge that you hike, seen from Angels Landing.

Narrow Ridge of Angels Landing

Finishing the Hike

With it being so early in the day, the trail still only had light traffic as we made our descent. But we did have to stop and wait for some people climbing up. I can see how the trail can get clogged with traffic, as many sections are only wide enough for one-way traffic. Getting here early was a good move!

Two days later, Tim and I hiked the entire West Rim Trail. This hike starts at the north section of Zion National Park, 12 miles from Scouts Lookout. We reached Scout Lookout at 1 pm. Angels Landing looked much different midday, with crowds of people on the trail. I can only imagine what it would look like during the peak season summer months.


Should You Hike Angels Landing?

Do not underestimate this hike! There have been 17 deaths on the Angels Landing hike.

If you have a fear of heights, you should not do this hike. There are sections that are very narrow with 1000-foot drops on either side. This is not the place to confront your fears.

You must have a good level of physical fitness. You will be climbing (and then descending) 1500 feet. Most of this climb comes before the narrow spine of Angels Landing. If you are very fatigued by the time you get to this point, it only makes the hike more dangerous. Once you are on the spine, it is a very strenuous, sometimes technically challenging climb to the top. This is not to be underestimated. If you do not think you are fit enough or have enough experience rock scrambling, go no farther than Scouts Lookout.

Young children should not do this hike. Again, this hike is dangerous and not a place to bring young kids. In our opinion, the youngest age we would recommend is 12 years old, and only if they have lots of hiking experience. Yes, I do know kids that have successfully hiked Angels Landing at a younger age, but they had heaps of prior experience. Anyone attempting this hike needs prior experience hiking with chains and along exposed trails before hiking Angels Landing.

If you are traveling with kids, it is safe for them to hike to Scout Lookout. They can wait here with an adult if someone in your group wants to hike up to Angels Landing.

If you really want to know what to expect, watch the video Tim filmed on the narrow section of the trail.


How to Have the Best Experience

IMPORTANT!! Zion National Park is now selling timed tickets for the shuttle. This means that the only way you can enter the park is to purchase a shuttle ticket in advance. Tickets are purchased on recreation.gov and are available approximately two weeks in advance (a small portion of tickets are available one day in advance). These tickets sell out fast so as soon as you know your dates of travel, make sure you mark your calendar as to when to reserve your tickets. A shuttle ticket costs $1 per person. Get the full details on the national park service website.

Our #1 Tip: Take the First Shuttle of the Day

The early bird gets the worm on this hike! For the best experience, this is a hike that needs to be started early in the day. By being on the first shuttle, you will be one of the first on the trail. This gives you plenty of time to hike the spine of Angels Landing before it gets crowded with other hikers. Starting early also helps you avoid the midday heat and afternoon storms, which becomes a huge bonus during the summer months.

Our #2 Tip: Hike more of the West Rim Trail

If you have the time and energy, from Scouts Lookout you can continue on the West Rim Trail. The scenery is spectacular and very few people venture out this way.

Read more: How to Day Hike the West Rim Trail


What to Bring on the Hike

Hiking Shoes. No flip flops, no crocs, no Converse sneakers. You need hiking shoes or boots for this hike.

Water. Bring plenty of water, especially if you will be hiking midday or during the warmer months.

Sunscreen. There is very little shade on the trail.

Hiking poles (optional). As I have gotten older, I am having more problems with my knees, especially on hikes with a large descent at the end. Hiking poles are my new favorite hiking gadget and I highly recommend them. They take about 30% of the weight off of your legs as you descend, easing knee pain and other symptoms. I use Black Diamond Distance Z poles and love them. They easily collapse down to fit in your luggage and hiking backpack, plus they are extremely lightweight. The poles come in several sizes, so make sure you pick the right length based on your height.

Learn how to plan a road trip through all 5 national parks in Utah (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands) with details on the best things to do, where to stay, and more.

Utah’s Mighty 5: Travel Guide & Road Trip Itinerary


Have you hiked Angels Landing? How was your experience? Comment below!

More Hikes to Add to Your Bucket List

Zion Narrows
Kjeragbolten, Norway
Fimmvörðuháls, Iceland
Hiking Half Dome in Yosemite, A Step-By-Step Guide
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand
Zebra Slot Canyon, Utah

 

Angels Landing Zion National Park

Angels Landing Hike Zion National Park

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 57

  1. Hi
    Any recommendations for doing trails in Zion during November last week, 2020? Are shuttles mandatory, can we not use our own private vehicle?

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes, you will need shuttle tickets in order to get into the park (other than Carmel Highway, which goes out the east side of the park). Here is a link to the Zion shuttle page for more info. Check weather conditions before you go. As long as there is no snow on the trails, Angels Landing will be great. Emerald Pools and the Riverside Walk are nice. The Narrows will be very cold and with the cyanobacteria may not be a good idea right now. If you haven’t seen it, here is the link to our hiking guide, which will have a few more suggestions. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

      1. I was just there last week, Nov. 18, and it was amazing. Shuttle ticket was easily purchased online while I walked up to the shuttle loading area. It was fabulous. Angel’s Landing is no joke. It’s an aerobic workout just to get up to the chains, and then it’s out-of-this-world from there on up. Enjoy.

        1. Post
          Author
  2. Do you know if it is possible to hike from the Visitor Center to the trail head? As in, skip the shuttle all together so you can beat the crowds?

    1. Post
      Author
  3. Would you recommend doing this hike still with the chains portion closed due to COVID? We are going in July and aren’t sure if we should put this hike on our list or do it another time when the entire trail is open.

    1. Post
      Author

      Other people (with a fear of heights) have told us they thought it is worth it to only hike to Scout Lookout. But in my opinion, it’s only worth hiking Angels Landing if you can do the entire hike, including the chains. That’s the whole reason to do this hike. The view is nice from Scout Lookout, but I think there are better experiences in the park. Zion is challenging this summer, with numerous trail closures, and not having the shuttle in operation (although that could change…I am in Rocky Mountain right now and the shuttle is running here). I don’t know if you have heard reports, but you need to be in the park before sunrise to get a parking space. The Narrows is awesome. You can still hike Observation Point via the East Mesa Trail (we have not done it this way so I am not sure of the details). And the West Rim Trail is great, if you don’t mind a big day hike and organizing a shuttle service. So, long story short, I’d save Angels Landing for a future visit. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hello there, awesome adventure. Where did you guys stay? Did you camp or stay in a cabinet ?
    Thanks for your help,

    1. Post
      Author

      We stayed in the town of Springdale, which is at the entrance into Zion NP. There are a lot of great hotels and restaurants in this town and it’s very quick and easy to get into Zion. There is also a lodge in Zion NP where you can stay. This year, because of Covid, it’s been more challenging to visit Zion, since the shuttle is not running (so far). Hopefully next year things will be back to normal. Cheers, Julie

  5. I’ve hiked to the top of Angel’s Landing three times, all hikes while in my 60s. The first time my husband and I climbed it, we weren’t sure how difficult or scary it would be. However, we decided to give it a go and if it got too much, we could always turn around. We made it to the top and loved it. Beautiful view and the challenge was exhilarating. The next time we visited Zion NP, we climbed it again! In October 2019, I climbed it again with one of my daughters. It is such a unique experience. In my opinion, if you think you want to try it and have appropriate footwear, just try it. If you start feeling really uneasy, you can turn around and head back down.
    A plug for Zion National Park – there is so much to do there but yet the park is much more compact than other national parks so you can do a number of great hikes in just 3 days.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Teresa. That’s so cool that you hiked Angels Landing three times! Thanks for sharing your experience! Cheers, Julie

  6. Your website is excellent, well organized, informative and has superb photos. It’s a great resource. I’ve told many friends about your website. You might want to make three spelling updates. Scout Lookout (singular) is the correct spelling. Please refer to the trail map on page 1 of the “2020 Spring Information Sheet” pdf file that’s found under “Park Newspaper” on https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/news/newspaper.htm

    1. Post
      Author
  7. This was really helpful! I don’t do well with heights but I don’t want to hold my group back from doing this hike when we go to the park in September. Now I know I can probably do a least a portion of it, to Scouts Landing and then just wait for them. And I also now know after seeing the video that there isn’t a chance I could do the rest which again is helpful!

    1. Post
      Author
  8. Am I good to go with Nike’s or shoes like that? Also , how wide is the smallest narrow space that I would be standing on.

    Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      I recommend wearing hiking shoes. You are on trails that are uneven and rough in spots, and for the narrow sections and the rock scrambling, it is best to have a pair of hiking shoes with good traction. The narrowest section is about three feet wide. There is a photo of Tim in this post standing on one of the very narrow sections of trail. Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  9. Do you think someone that doesn’t like heights could do any portion of this hike? I have done a lot of hiking, but I know I wouldn’t be comfortable with very narrow trails. We skipped this last time we went to Zion because of crowds.

    1. Post
      Author

      Yes, you can hike to Scouts Lookout, which is an area just before the narrow trail to Angels Landing begins. The view is very nice and other people who don’t like heights have reported back that it was still worth it to hike to this point. Plus, if you are hiking with a group, they won’t have much farther to go to get to Angels Landing. Cheers, Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *