Me: “Hold on. Angels Landing is a hike that goes straight up a massive rock with only a chain to hold on to?”
My Husband: “Yea but not many people die on it or anything.”
Me: “Wait, what? People have died hiking up there?”
My Husband: “Only a few. It’s no big deal. We’ll do it. You’ll be fine.”
Quite possibly one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the United States, Angels Landing in Zion National Park is one unforgettable experience. It is a favorite among many adventurers worldwide. I was highly anticipating our visit to the park but not sure about this alleged “must-do” hike. After much debate and research, I made the final decision to give it a try.
I’m not the most adventurous person yet I find myself in precarious situations while traveling, afraid of missing out on an extraordinary experience. So here I was again, wondering if I made the right decision.
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Hiking Angels Landing
We cross a bridge over the Virgin River to get to the trailhead. The path is well-maintained and wide with plenty of room. It’s not long before our easy stroll turns into a calf-stretching march up the side of the canyon wall. The higher we climb the views become more breathtaking. The 2-mile paved path leads us on a constant climb via Walter’s Wiggles, twenty-one relentless compact switchbacks. The huffing and puffing has begun!
Don’t miss our video of hiking Angels Landing below!
We reach Scout’s Lookout, a great viewpoint for the skyward Angels Landing and the beautiful canyon below. It’s hard to believe the distance we put between us and the bridge we were on a little bit ago. At this point many people decide to turn around. The tricky and most exhilarating part is yet to come.
You know it’s a vertical climb when your neck and head slowly move upward to try to find the spot where we are headed. As we begin the final ½ mile of the hike, I take a deep breath and tell myself not to think and take it one step at a time.
At certain areas, the ridge is so narrow that we can see down both sides of the canyon below. My knuckles are white gripping the cold metal chain in these sections.
We reach a point where the chain disappears for a few feet and we see a woman begging her family to give her some time to make the non-supported stretch. The kids are giggling, the husband is at his wit’s end on how to get her across and the hikers behind her look like they are going to push her off if she doesn’t make up her mind.
The trail is narrow so passing other hikers heading upward in most areas isn’t something you do. When she stops, everyone stops. She starts scooting on her butt saying she is going to get across this way. It’s comical for a few seconds but when I realize that she is truly paralyzed out of fear I decide no one should be on this hike if they are that afraid.
If heights scare you, I wouldn’t even attempt it. The climb continues; it is rocky and there are times we have to use the chain to pull us up to the next level. Just about when my thighs are getting shaky, we reach the highpoint.
I look out at the sprawling views and I can’t help but do a happy dance. The views are magnificent, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the bold feat of climbing this towering monolith is the ultimate reward. We made it; we actually did it.
Me to my husband: “What an awesome hike. I am pumped! I cannot believe we made it all the way up here, I’m so proud… Now where’s the tram to take us down?”
Angels Landing Hiking Guide
Would I hike Angels Landing again? Absolutely. I was uneasy before attempting the hike but the thrill and exhilaration beat out any nervousness. It is a hike that even the most intrepid hiker would find inspiring.
Would I recommend it to everyone? No way. If you have a fear of heights, don’t like walking with other people or have small children, it’s not the right hike for you. There are so many other ways to experience the beauty Zion National Park has to offer, that giving yourself a nervous breakdown is not worth it.
Thinking about hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here is everything you need to know before you go.
The Basics – Angels Landing Hike
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,488 feet
Difficulty: Strenuous with steep drop-offs
Length of Time: 3 – 4 hours (longer if you decide to go later in the day)
Sun Exposure: Full sun, no shade
Trailhead: Grotto Trailhead
Bathrooms: Only at the shuttle drop off area (no privacy on the trail so make sure you take a potty break before you start)
Where to go: The Starting Point
Angels Landing is located in southwestern Utah in Zion National Park. Due to a large amount of visitors, the park relies on a free shuttle system for transportation during the busy season. Ride the shuttle to the Grotto Shuttle Stop and walk over the bridge crossing the river to start your hike.
When to Go
The best time of year to hike Angels Landing is in the summer, fall, or spring. If you can, catch the first bus in the morning to avoid crowds and the summer heat in the afternoon. Winter weather brings possible ice on the trail which can be extremely dangerous. Always avoid the trail during a thunderstorm or when there are high winds.
What to Bring
- Hat and/or Sunglasses
- Flashlight or Headlamp if starting early
Layers – it’s hot walking up but cool at the top
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