Hiking Angels Landing in Zion NP (A Survival Guide)

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Zion National Park is a part of the United States that’s full of adventure. Utah’s desert landscape is filled to the brim with towering mountains, deep canyons, and massive pinnacles of rock. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the wilderness while exploring Zion, but to truly appreciate the beauty of the park, you’ll need to take on the Angels Landing hike.

Although strenuous, you’ll still find crowds flocking to this trail to peer out over the skyline of mountains and canyons. Highlighting all the rugged beauty of the desert, travelers are blown away by the jaw-dropping scenery. 

We know you can’t wait to climb up to the top of this spire yourself! But being a strenuous trail, does this mean your average backpacker and tourist can’t enjoy the panoramic views from Angels Landing? 

Before you strap on your boots, be sure to check out our know-before-you-go guide to Angels Landing Trail. With all the information you need, travelers can decide if Angels Landing is right for them before they hit the trail.

Don’t leave home without your own: Lonely Planet USA’s National Parks (Travel Guide)

Conquer the Angels Landing Hike Like A Pro

Know Before You Go

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog hiking down from Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Climbing to the pinnacle of Angels Landing is an adventure. You won’t find a nicely paved trail leading directly from the trailhead to the overlook.

Angels Landing Trail is a there and back trail, meaning you’ll have to hike 2.6 miles one way then turn around. Although the trail itself is not long it is steep, prepare to walk anywhere from 3-6 hours.

What makes the Angels Landing hike time so long is that parts of the trail are incredibly narrow: hikers will have to hang on to a chain for a sense of safety and support.

Although there are no really hazardous parts of Angels Landing, those with vertigo or a fear of heights should think twice before tackling it.

Who Should Hike Angels Landing?

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog hiking up to Angles Landing in Zion National Park.

As you have read above, those afraid of heights should probably not hike to Angels Landing. But who else shouldn’t try the hike?

Those who are out of shape should not attempt this hike. Angels Landing has hikers pushing themselves along a trail that ascends a total of 1500 feet. If you’re not physically fit with good balance, you may want to consider another hike in Zion National Park.

Are you traveling with children? Families may also want to rethink bringing their kids along when hiking Angels Landing. Children who are out of control may be in danger of falling off the trail. With hands needing to be placed on the chain, it won’t be easy to constantly supervise young children.

Lastly, if you’re an off the beaten path traveler looking to lose themselves in nature, Angels Landing may not be for you. The crowds along the route can get to be so much that it can be dangerous. If you decide to hike to Angels Landing, be sure to go early and let other hikers pass on the trail. 

Location & How to Get There

Now that you know you’re able to hike Angels Landing, how do you get there? From May to October, much of the traffic is limited to shuttles. 

To hike, you’ll first have to go to Zion National Park Visitor Center and take the bus to the Grotto Shuttle Stop. The trip from the visitor center to the shuttle shop takes about 20 minutes.

After getting off at the Grotto Shuttle Stop, head west to the Grotto Trailhead to begin your hike. Tickets only cost 1 USD and can be purchased in advance. Shuttles leave from the visitor center every five minutes between 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

It’s important that you make shuttle ticket reservations well in advance. Once you know the dates you will be in Zion, check the recreation.gov site to see when shuttle tickets open in Zion for your dates. Once you know this, be on it and reserve the earliest tickets you can when the system opens.

Best Time To Go

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog hiking up to Angles Landing in the Wiggles part of the hike.

Early morning is the best time of day to hike Angels Landing Trail, but what time of year should you strap on your bag and explore Zion National Park?

It’s possible to hike Angels Landing year-round, but it is best to travel to the park from Spring to Fall to avoid road closures. Shuttles also only run from May to October.

Another time of year you might want to avoid hiking Angels Landing in the middle of Summer. During June, July, and August, school is out, and many tourists hike Angels Landing. Not to mention the heat can become unbearable on this exposed trail.

The best time of year to hike to Angels Landing is either during spring or fall. Fall is the ideal of the two since travelers will not have to deal with melting patches of snow.

Looking for more advice on when to go? Check out Best Time to Visit Zion NP

What To Bring on Your Hike

Lina Stock looking out over Zion National Park while hiking to Angels Landing.

The only restrooms and water fountain found along the Angels Landing Trail are at the Grotto Trailhead. Afterward, you’ll be left to fend for yourself while out on your hike. So what should you bring while venturing off to Angels Landing?

Since Angels Landing is an exposed trail, you’ll have no shade from the sun. Bringing sunblock and a brimmed hat is essential.

The trail can also get uneven at times, requiring you to cross narrow paths with slippery rocks. Although you will have a chain to guide your way across the track, make sure to wear a good pair of hiking boots. Some travelers may also want to bring a hiking stick for extra support.

Lastly, the only water along the trail is found at the Grotto Shuttle Stop. Be sure to bring plenty of water, at least 2 liters per person, and snacks to drink and eat while hiking to Angels Landing.

Do you have the right hiking gear? We have put together 40 Hiking Essentials items that every hiker should have when hiking up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Step by Step Guide to Hiking Angels Landing Trail

Starting at the Grotto Trailhead

Landscape view of the Grotto Trailhead - The start of the hike up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

The first step to get to Angels Landing is getting off the shuttle at the Grotto Shuttle Stop. From here, head west to the Grotto Trailhead to begin your hike. 

After crossing over the Virgin River, a leisurely paved path to your right takes you along the West Rim Trail. The first two miles of the hike continue along this trail until a steady incline takes travelers up to Refrigerator Canyon.

When descending from Angels Landing, many adventurous hikers decide to continue exploring the West Rim Trail. If one were to take a left after crossing the bridge over the Virgin River, they would find the Kayenta Trail, which leads to the Emerald Pools.

Follow the Angels Landing Trail & Start Climbing

Angels Landing Hike in Zion National Park
This photo is taken from about halfway along this first big climb

Shortly after veering off from the Virgin River, you’ll start the first part of your climb. It starts out on a slow grade and gets progressively steeper as you go.

The path also becomes paved, I assume in an effort to stop erosion, so it is easy to follow. You’ll find plenty of places along this part of the trail to rest and enjoy the view over the Zion Canyon below.

With it being steep, you’ll make fast gains but this part of the trail takes the most time. You’re literally climbing your way from the Virgin River all the way to the top of the canyon. It takes time and requires that you pace yourself.

Refrigerator Canyon

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog hiking through Refrigerator Canyon while hiking up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

Once you reach the top of your first big climbing section of the hike, you will find yourself in a cool and shady part of the trail known as Refrigerator Canyon.

Refrigerator Canyon is one of the few spots along the Angels Landing Trail where hikers will be able to take a break from the heat and relax in the shade. Be sure to take advantage of the hanging sides of the canyon before you head back out on the trail.

Walter’s Wiggles

21 switchbacks of the Walter's Wiggle up or down too Angels Landing.

Continuing from Refrigerator Canyon, hikers will be able to witness a miracle of 1930s engineering as they make their next big climb. Walter’s Wiggles consists of 21 switchbacks that will have you steadily climbing up the side of the mountain.

This part of the trail is a sight in itself, with the carefully placed stones creating the path up to the first lookout. Walter’s Wiggles puts pressure on all those hiking up its slope, but you’re also nearing the most exciting part of your Angels Landing hike.

Arriving at Scout Lookout

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog at the Hogsback part of the trail while hiking up to Angels Landing.
Standing at Scout Lookout

At the top of Walter’s Wiggle, travelers will get a first taste of the stunning views across Zion National Park and the monolith of Angels Landing. It is also from this point where hikers can make a judgment if they want to continue along the narrow path to Angels Landing.

Even if you’re unfit or unable to hike to Angels Landing, just walking to Scout Lookout is a great alternative. From the Grotto Trailhead, it’s only two miles to Scout Lookout, making it a total of four miles. Most hikers complete the trip to Scout Lookout in just two to three hours.

Whether you choose to continue on from here or not, there is a section of chains to experience. If at this point you find yourself challenged by the small space or heights, it’s best to not continue any further on this trail.

Taking on the Hogsback

Lina Stock hiking up to Angels Landing.

The last section of the trail is not for the faint of heart. The Hogsback leads hikers across the backbone of the mountain before reaching the summit of Angels Landing. With only a chain marking your way, you’ll want to hold on tight as you crawl up steep rocks and across narrow paths.

Hiking the narrow spine of the mountain may strike fear into some, but others will feel totally alive with the wind brushing through their hair and breathtaking views of the canyons below.

The carved steps and chains are more than enough to stay safe, but be sure to stay on the path and not try anything foolish. 

Hiker to hiker, the trail is every bit as narrow as it looks. however, the grip on the rock is decent if you have the right shoes and the chains are large and easy to hold onto. Maneuvering around other hikers is one of the hardest challenges.

In my opinion, far too many people with a fear of heights were pushing their limits on this hike and in turn, endangering other people on the trail.

If you come across a panicked person, and trust me you will, find a secure place until they pass. Trying to brush by them only makes it worse.

Reaching the Angels Landing Summit

Lina Stock at the top of Angels Landing.

After the exposed 500 foot climb up the side of the mountain, you’ll find yourself at the endpoint of the trail, Angels Landing. Although it may have been a strenuous journey, the views from this overlook make that burning in your legs totally worth it!

Located on the bend of the Virgin River, you’ll have unobstructed panoramic views of Zion National Park. After taking a few pictures and basking in the beauty of the great outdoors, you then have to make your way down the same trail you walked in on.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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