Everything You Need to Know about Angels Landing Hike in Zion National Park

The Basics for 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)

Planning a trip to the national park? Read our other article on All the Do-Not-Miss Places in Zion National Park

Our Experience Hiking Angels Landing Zion National Park

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 hike 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.

Trying to decide whether or not to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.
One of the best Zion hikes – if you are not afraid of heights that is!

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 have begun!

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Trying to decide whether or not to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.
Walter Wiggle’s – Angels Landing Hike Miles, 5 Miles Roundtrip
Trying to decide whether or not to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.
View of Zion Angels Landing Ridge

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.

In 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.

One of the most thrilling Zion hikes is Angels Landing
Chains on Zion Angels Landing hike

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.

Trying to decide whether or not to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.
Switchbacks on the Zion Angels Landing Hike

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?”

 

Thinking about hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here is everything you need to know before you go. 

How Difficult is the Angels Landing Hike?

The trail is strenuous with steep inclines and should is not suitable for young children. Special Note: Dogs are not allowed on the trail. 

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.

Trying to decide whether or not to hit Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.
View from one of the most thrilling Zion Hikes, Angels Landing
Trying to decide whether or not to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.
Is Angels Landing Hike Open? Make sure to check the park’s website before you plan to hike the trail.

Where to Start the Angels Landing Trail

Angels Landing is located in southwestern Utah in Zion National Park. Due to a large number 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 to Zion National Park

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.

Check the weather the day before and the morning of the hike. Always avoid the trail during a thunderstorm or when there are high winds.

CHECK HERE TO SEE IF THE ANGELS LANDING TRAIL CLOSED

What to Bring and Wear

You’ll want to pack light since there’s a lot of climbing involved. Also, if you plan to bring a backpack pick one that fits close to your body and do not wear anything loose like a string bag that may get in the way. 

  • Plenty of Water (none is available on the trail itself but available at the shuttle stop).
  • Snacks.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Hat and/or Sunglasses.
  • Camera.
  • Flashlight or Headlamp if starting early.
  • Layers – it’s hot walking up but cool at the top.
  • Wear a sturdy pair of women’s hiking shoes or men’s hiking shoes, whichever applies. I prefer trail runners or hiking shoes that don’t cover my ankles since it tends to rub, but if you prefer hiking boots, make sure to pick a durable and breathable pair. 

How Much Does it Cost to Hike Angels Landing?

$20 – $35. The trail is within Zion National Park which does charge an entry fee but no special permit is necessary.

Other Popular Zion National Park Hikes

Would you hike Angels Landing? Tell us in the comments below!

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The must-do hike in Zion National Park in Utah: Angels Landing. Here's the ultimate travel guide on the who, what and when.

Trying to decide whether or not to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park? Here's my experience and the ultimate guide on all you need to know about the hike.

13 Responses

  1. Janet

    Okay so I didn’t think you were there when I was there! “That woman” was in front of me and when I actually got to the gap in the chain I suddenly WAS “That Woman”! The rest of the hike is amazing and I will leave that last 1/2 mile for the young and fearless.
    You did a great job laying out all the specifics about the hike. We loved Zion.

  2. Martha

    I concur with your observation – “Quite possibly one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the United States”. I have visited 43 of the 59 National Parks and this hike remains my favorite. I have hiked it twice and I can’t wait to do it again. The views are just AMAZING once you get to the top. It makes it all so worth the adrenaline on those chains 🙂
    Thanks for sharing and giving your readers such a good description from start to end.

    • Dang Travelers

      I feel the same way! Totally worth it but the idea of it sounded super scary. I’m glad I did it and will do it again. 43 out of the 59 is awesome Martha! I’m not sure how many we’ve done so far (should sit down and count them one day) but our goal is to eventually see them all. Our parks….really was America’s best idea yet!

  3. Gary Cook

    Great blog post and outstanding hike. When I did it a few years ago I couldn’t believe the park system let just average people do this hike. A must do in Zion if you are not afraid of heights!

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Gary, appreciate it. That’s what I kept saying! I saw a man with his child, maybe 10 years old, attempting the hike and I thought are you crazy? There should be a gate with a height restriction like at amusement parks!

  4. Chris travels

    I visited Zion last summer and did many of the amazing hikes in the park, but wouldn’t even let myself consider Angel’s Landing. I know my limits and being one who has an intense fear of heights I knew I’d get myself “stuck” up there, and paralyzed with fear unable to go forward or backward! My hat’s off to you and hubby for tackling this one of a kind hike.

  5. Ashley

    I did this hike before I knew what it was so the chains and steep drop offs were a surprise until I was facing them! If I’d known I probably wouldn’t have gone but once there we kept pushing forward and it was 💯% worth it

    • Dang Travelers

      I can’t imagine coming up on such a challenging hike not knowing what I was getting myself into so good for you! I think I may have turned back but you never know. It’s so easy to find yourself excited to see what’s at the next corner or what view you will be rewarded with.

  6. Lee

    what the way down the like with the chains? I’m not afraid of heights, but I am afraid of falling!

  7. Mike McAleer

    66 years young and my mind still thinks I’m 39. My two sons, age 32, 36 and very fit were my chaperon. Our trip was mid Oct. 2018 and Zion will always be one of my greatest adventures. My body told me my true age on the way up. Walter Wiggles, once they start getting more steep I would complete three and then would take a 3-5 min. break. For those who question their ability or fears, try to get to Scouts landing. The paths to that level are safe in my opinion and the views up are memorable. Breathing hard, I reminded myself you have two stints, so I didn’t push it. Rested for about 15 min. at Scouts landing. And now the chains. I was surprised that I wasn’t overly concerned about the height. Or, I should say I respected the height and focused totally on my path. I was more concerned about sharing the chains, as it’s two way traffic on the same chain. In one instance I came across a young lady who had stopped half way on a chain. She signaled me on and I responded, “this might get personal”, as I was reaching over her to grasp the chain on her other side. Forgot to mention, my son’s had already gone ahead and had left me at Scouts landing, thinking I was done. So they were at least 15 min. ahead and to their surprise coming down they saw me going up. Conclusion: It was fantastic and I would do it again, if I could. Zion is amazing. the drive through the park to Mt. Carmel is beautiful also and a must for those short on time or not able to take the trails.

    • Dang Travelers

      Right on Mike! It is no easy feat but such a rewarding hike. Zion is definitely in our top 10 favorite parks too. I thought the heights were going to scare me too and was worried I’d become paralyzed but taking it one step at a time helped a lot. Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate it!

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