Angels Landing Midday

Angels Landing Survival Guide: Things to Know Before You Go

Julie United States 18 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)

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

Scouts Lookout

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

From Scouts 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.


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 trailJulie 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 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 Scouts 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 16 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 Scouts 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.

Planning a trip to Utah? Check out our post 10 Days in the American Southwest: The Ultimate Road Trip. Visit Zion, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on this epic road trip.

How to Have the Best Experience

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.

Post updated June 2018.

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

More Hikes to Add to Your Bucket List

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


Angels Landing Zion National Park

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How to hike Angels Landing, Zion National Park #angelslanding #zion #hiking #adventuretravel

Comments 18

    1. Post

      Yes, you will have to pay the National Park fee for entering Zion National Park. I believe it is now $30 and good for 7 days in Zion. There is no additional fee for hiking Angels Landing. If you plan to visit several National Parks (3 or more in one year) it’s worth purchasing the annual pass for $80. You can do this when you arrive in Zion. However, if you enter the park before the ticket booth opens, you do not have to pay the park fee for that day. Happy hiking! Cheers, Julie

  1. Love your website! I’m so glad I found it as I am planning my trip to Zion National Park in March! Just booked everything last night. What camera do you use or recommend for hiking? I’ve only used regular digital cameras and iPhone to take pictures before, but I want something better.

    1. Post

      I use a Canon 5D Mark IV, even when we hike, but it’s a beast of a camera to lug around. We also use the Canon Powershot GX7 Mark II. It’s a much smaller point and shoot camera that takes good photos. This would be a lot easier to carry on hikes. Mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than my Canon 5D and they take fantastic photos. However, I don’t know much about them. I’d look into buying something like the Powershot or better, depending on how nice you want to go. Maybe go to a local camera shop to get recommendations. Have fun in Zion!! Cheers, Julie

  2. Hi, thanks for this post. I did Angel’s Landing and it’s the best hike I’ve done. I am not an expert and could complete it, not as fast as you :–). I am planning to do the Half Dome hike. I read your post. I will like to know how you compare both, specifically at the last and hardest part of the Half Dome trail , going up the cables? Thanks!!!

    1. Post

      As far as distance and elevation gain, Half Dome is a much more difficult hike. By the time you get to the cables, most likely you will already be feeling tired. Climbing up and down the cables was more difficult than we expected. It’s a very steep incline and it takes a lot of effort and even upper body strength to get to the top of Half Dome. Descending is less strenuous but it can take awhile depending on how crowded the chains are. If Angels Landing was difficult, make sure you do some endurance and strength training to prepare you for Half Dome. The more fit you are, the easier and more enjoyable the experience will be. But what a memory, there is something very special about standing on top of Half Dome. Cheers, Julie

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  3. I agree with previous comments about this being an excellent written guide re: the Angels Landing hike—perhaps the best one I’ve seen, in fact! I’ve hiked it twice myself, and can vouch for the fact that extra conditioning ahead of time can really pay off. Also, doing everything you can to avoid heat and crowds can make the entire experience that much easier and less daunting. I’ll definitely be sharing your guide with any friends who are thinking of making this hike!

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  4. Do you have any recommendations on how to practice with heights prior to accomplishing something like this? I do have a fear of heights but was able to climb Mt Elbert in July (whose exposure is relatively minimal), I think it’s more the lack of experience where I don’t trust how surefooted I am yet, especially with rock scrambling and such. Love your blog!

    1. Post

      There are other hikes you can do first in Zion to get accustomed to the heights. An easy one is the Canyon Overlook Trail, although there is not a lot of exposure here. Hidden Canyon is very similar to Angels Landing, with cliffs and chains but it doesn’t look or feel as high as Angels Landing, so this might be a good one to do first. And if, for some reason, you can’t do Angels Landing, the hike to Observation Point is great and you get one of the best views of the park from here (there is some exposure on this trail, too).

      Depending on where you live, maybe you’ll get lucky and have some trails with exposure that you can “practice” on. But I think hiking is a skill, and the more you do it, the easier it gets to handle the exposure. Of course, some people have a true fear of heights, and all the hiking in the world may not change that.

      Cheers, Julie

  5. I am a novice hiker who will be going with an experienced one. Is this hike something I could do with him part way and then wait while he goes to the top? How close to the end can I get without getting to the sheer inclines and very narrow trails?

    1. Post

      Great questions! Yes, you can hike up most of the way. There is an area called Scouts Landing where you can wait. It is located after Walters Wiggles and just before the freaky, narrow trail begins. So you can hike roughly 80% of the trail with your friend.

      The hike to Scouts Landing is on a wide, paved trail. It’s got some good elevation gain but it’s not technically challenging (or narrow). Part of the trail was just recently repaired (it washed away this summer in storms) so I don’t know what that short section will be like.

      Have fun! Cheers, Julie

  6. This was extremely helpful! Maybe the most helpful article I have read about Angel’s landing. We are intermediate hikers and would probably just hike to the first stop and turn back based on how we’re doing. Excellent tips!

    1. Post

      Glad we could help! I think the key to having the best experience is being one of the first hikers of the day on the trail. That way you can avoid the traffic jams on the narrow sections once the trail fills with people. Cheers, Julie

  7. Great post. My 13-year-old son and I did it today and it was just as you described. We tried for the first shuttle but had to settle for the second. Hiking in the shade was wonderful and we felt bad seeing hot and bothered hikers on our way down.

    The cables are an awesome experience. I was apprehensive about my son, because he can be a goofball, but he was good. I’ve done the Half Dome cables twice and I think Angel’s Landing is more mentally challenging. The drop offs in some areas are incredible and you really do feel one miss-step from disaster. It’s definitely up there on my list of favorite hikes, for the views and the sense of accomplishment.

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