Best Hikes in Zion: Angels Landing Hike
My knees were shaking after reaching the top of the Angels Landing Hike. It’s no doubt the best hike in Zion. Climbing a steep, reddish wall with chains is not easy. But the reward is the best view of Zion Canyon – it is stunning and breathtaking. Angels Landing Trail is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park, Utah. But it’s a strenuous hike, demanding climbing. So, the most important thing is to prepare well for it. It might not be for you if you fear heights because the last part of the hike is a very exposed cliff. In this article, we share our experience of preparing for the Angels Landing hike, with hiking tips, how it looks step by step with the map and trail description, and much more you should know about this adventure. We also will tell you details about the new Angels Landing Hiking Permits Program, as you must have a permit for Angels Landing Hike.This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Angels Landing Hike – Introduction
This article focuses on one of the best hikes in Zion – Angels Landing Hike, with the new lottery permit system for Angels Landing. However, we also have in-depth articles on other exciting and challenging hikes in the park, such as the Narrows hike, the Subway hike, a detailed guide to Zion National Park, and Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary. Please read them before your trip.
Angels Landing Permits for 2023
Starting April 1, 2022, people who want to take the famous Angels Landing hike in Zion will need permits, which will be issued through a lottery system. The permit for hiking Angels Landing is mandatory in 2023 as well. The first lottery opened on January 1, 2023. The lottery system will be fairer to visitors and reduce crowding, as crowding is a major problem on the trail bordered by a steep cliff.
There will be two draws, one seasonal and another, for the day before the scheduled hikes. Each raffle will cost $6 per person to enter, and those who win will be charged a $3 per person fee. This will cover the cost of running the lottery and the rangers checking permits on the trail.
Why must you have a permit for Angels Landing?
Visitation to Zion National Park has soared recently, from about 2.8 million visits in 2011 to nearly 5 million in 2021. The Zion is in the top 10 most visited US National Park sites in the 2021 list. Angels Landing hike is one of the best hikes in Zion and the most popular destination in the park. It was hiked by more than 300,000 people in 2019. Unfortunately, fatal accidents have occurred on this challenging, steep trail, so the lottery system was introduced to improve safety on the Angels Landing Trail.
The permit system for the Angels Landing hike will specifically apply to the narrowest section of the trail, often referred to as the “Angel Landing chain section” because it has metal handholds driven into the rock. Below, in the following paragraphs, we explain step by step how the new Angel Landing Hiking Permits Program works.
How to Get a Permit for Angels Landing Hike in 2023?
First, it will be possible to apply for a permit for the Angels Landing Hike within two windows.
- The first is the period from 1 to 3 months before the planned Angels Landing hike date. It’s a Seasonal Lottery (details below).
- The second is 24 hours before entering Angel’s Landing. It’s a Day-before Lottery (details below).
Each person can apply for an individual and group permit (max 6 people). Making an online reservation is a non-refundable fee of $ 6.00. In addition, each person who receives a permit must pay $3.00 for it.
REGISTRATION PERIODS WHICH A PERMIT CAN BE OBTAINED are determined annually by the park authorities (on average every quarter). The dates and details are in the “Important Dates” table on the official website.
Tourists must specify when they plan to reach the Angels Landing summit. There are three-time windows for selection, defined:
- Before 9 AM
- Between 9 AM and 12 PM
- After 12 PM
Seasonal Lottery For Angels Landing Hike in 2023
You can apply for a permit before you travel. It’s called a Seasonal Lottery. You can pick seven days, times, or time slots you want to hike. Pick the date you want to be in Zion National Park and apply for a permit on Recreation.gov during your application window. Applying for a seasonal permit costs $6. This fee is non-refundable. On the days the NPS issues permits, you will receive an email stating:
- You have been issued a permit for the Angels landing hike and charged $3 for each registered person. OR
- You did not receive a permit for the Angels Landing hike and can re-register the day before your hike or for a future Seasonal Lottery.
If you are lucky and win a permit for the Angels Landing Hike, don’t forget to print it or download it and take it for the Angels Landing hike! You must use Recreation.gov to apply for a permit. According to the NPS official website:
- Hikes Dates for April 1 to May 31, 2023:
The lottery Opens on January 1, 2023; Lottery Closes on January 20, 2023; Permits are Issued on January 25, 2023.
- Hikes Dates for June 1 to August 31, 2023:
The lottery Opens on April 1, 2023; Lottery Closes on April 20, 2023; Permits are Issued on April 25, 2023.
- Hikes Dates for September 1 to November 30, 2023:
The lottery Opens on July 1, 2023; Lottery Closes on July 20, 2023; Permits are Issued on July 25, 2023.
- Hikes Dates for December 1 to February 28, 2023
The lottery Opens on October 1, 2023; Lottery Closes on October 20, 2023; Permits are Issued on October 25, 2023.
Day-before Lottery for Angels Landing Hike in 2023
The other option is the Day-before Lottery. You can apply for a permit at Angels Landing the day before you plan to hike. Importantly, this lottery opens at 12:01 AM each day on and after April 1, 2022, and closes at 3:00 PM Mountain Time (MT). Applying for a Day-before Lottery costs $6. This fee is non-refundable.
If you want to hike on a Tuesday, you must apply for the permit between 12:01 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday MT. The NPS will issue permits at 4 p.m. MT on Monday.
At 4 p.m. MT on the day you apply for the permit, the NPS will send you an email to let you know:
- You have been issued a permit for the Angels Landing hike and have been charged $3 per person registered.
- You did not receive a permit for the Angels Landing hike and can try again in a future lottery.
If you are lucky and win a permit, don’t forget to print it or download it and take it for the Angels Landing hike!
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Entrance Fee to the Zion National Park
In addition, to hike permits, entry fees to Zion National Park will apply as for any other park; therefore, if you plan to visit at least three national parks in the USA within one year, buying an America the Beautiful Annual Pass before your trip is the best solution. Annual America the Beautiful Pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country, including all national parks. It covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person (kids 15 & under get in free).
Angels Landing Hiking Trail Info & Map
Level/Rating of Difficulty the Angels Landing Hike
The Angels Landing hike, Utah, is a strenuous and exposed day hike, especially challenging in the last part of the climbing with chains on the cliff. It’s called the “Angel Landing chain section”. So it’s not recommended hike for people with a fear of heights and for small children. The hike is rated as a class 3 difficulty based on the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS).
Angels Landing Hiking Distance – Time Required & Lenth
Round Trip Duration for the Angels Landing hike is around 4 – 5 hours (depending on your physical condition and pace of walking).
It’s 5.4 miles (8.7 km).
Angels Landing Elevation Gain
The approximate elevation gain is 1488 feet (453m)
The Grotto, Shuttle Stop number 6, is the place where the trailhead starts. Ride the shuttle for approximately twenty minutes from the Zion National Park Visitor Center and get off at the Grotto Shuttle Stop. Head west toward the river to find the trailhead to Angels Landing Hike. It’s well-maintained. Here you can check more details about Zion and the shuttle system.
The Angels Landing Trail Features
For sure, Angels Landing is a unique fin-like mountain formation. The Angels Landing hike offers spectacular views of the Canyon, the best in Zion National Park. The trail follows the narrow spine to the top viewpoint, almost 1500 feet above the canyon floor. It’s a great viewpoint for sunset photos. For sure is one of the best hikes in Zion.
The best Seasons for hiking the Angels Landing
Zion National Park is open year-round. But always check if the Angels Landing Trail is open. Sometimes might be closed because of weather conditions or due to the renovation of the trail/fallen rocks. The trail may be slippery and icy during winter, so be careful. After the rain, the rocks and climbing can also be very tricky after the rain. In the summer it can be hot, so take more water. Summer can be very crowded, too. Spring and fall have the most pleasant temperatures. Check the weather before your Angels Landing hike; remember, the weather can change suddenly. So check our hiking tips below.
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The Angels Landing Hiking Tips
Knowledge, preparation, and a good plan are your keys to success and a great Angels Landing hike. Below are some of our hiking hints to help you prepare for this adventure. It is one of the best hikes in Utah. However, it is also one of the most challenging.
Crowds on The Angels Landing Trail
The introduction of hike permits to Angels Landing is intended to minimize crowding. In its steepest section with chains, this has been one of the greatest dangers on the trail. The ascent to the top is steep, so you can wait in line to get to the last part of the trail with chains. Thanks to the permits, the Angels Landing hike won’t be so crowded anymore, but always be careful in the chain area. However, consider going on the hike early in the morning or late afternoon. The light for photos is the best, and the weather for hiking is also the best. It’s worth thinking about staying overnight near the Park entrance to rest before the strenuous hike or after returning. So, check lodging recommendations in the article Things to do in Zion National Park. Check lodging prices on Booking.com.
But always be careful. The Angel Landing hike in the “chain section” is very steep, and you should pay special attention to it, regardless of the number of people.
Best Hikes in Zion – Other Hikers
In the chain section, you’re sure to meet other hikers. Even if there are no crowds, be especially careful. Remember that hikers going uphill have the right of way. Make space for them to let them down the path safely. Keep patience. Each of us has a different pace of walking and climbing. Some people may be scared of vertical walls and chains. Most importantly, be polite, share the trail, and allow other hikers to pass at safe spots. To pass someone in front of you, slow down and let them know you want to pass. A simple “hello” is often the best way to announce your presence if you’re about to pass another hiker from behind.
Be Aware of Exposure to The Angels Landing Hike
The Angels Landing Trail is spectacular, one of the best hikes in Zion, but the last part of the hike is really strenuous and exposed. You hike along with a narrow and precipitous rock formation. You climb with chain support, but the stones are smooth and slippery.
So, if you:
- have a fear of heights,
- don’t have the experience of hiking in the mountains, or
- are out of shape, or
- didn’t take hiking boots with great traction, or
- have small children with you,
think twice about whether this trial is for you. There are several beautiful trails in Zion National Park (you will find our recommendations here), which also provide gorgeous views and adventure. So choose the appropriate trail for your abilities or consider going for an easier hike.
Don’t be Ashamed to Turn Back
If you start the Angels Landing hike, but while climbing, you feel that you may not be able to finish it, remember that there is nothing wrong with turning back. Before starting the final ascent to the top of Angels Landing, there is a large platform where the chains start. It’s a place named Scout Lookout with a beautiful view, too. Many people resign from climbing to the top at this stop because safety is most important. If you start climbing up with the chain’s support and fear overwhelms you, consider turning back. There have been several fatal accidents along this route, so don’t risk your life, especially if you don’t feel good. Even experienced hikers have weaker days. So, observe your body during the hike, and check the symptoms of diseases such as Heat illness, Hypothermia, and Hyponatremia. Be honest about your health and fitness. Know your limits.
Best Hikes in Zion – Do Not Feed Wildlife & Leave No Trace
There are a lot of squirrels and birds on the trail. Please, do not feed them. It’s not allowed. Let wildlife stay wild. And most important, pack all your trash with you and take them back. Do not store or abandon gear along the trail. It attracts wildlife.
Take a lot of Water and some Snacks
Remember to take a lot of water on this hike. Hydrate, but don’t force fluid. It’s strenuous, so you need water and a good meal. We use much more energy during the hike. Eat more before you start hiking, even double your average intake. You should always balance hydration with salty and high-protein snacks, electrolytes, or protein bars. More hiking tips we provide in our article Hiking Tips for Visiting Zion National Park.
What to Pack for Angels Landing Hike?
Whether the trail is short or long, easy or demanding, you must always be prepared for your hike. Accidents happen, or the weather can change dramatically in a few minutes. Check a list of our essentials, the most necessary things for a trail.
The most important thing is to dress appropriately for the weather. Remember that it can change quickly, so it’s worth packing a warm hoodie or jacket and something rainproof, even during summer. Because you climb with chains on this hike, we recommend taking gloves to protect your hands. Trekking shoes with reliable traction are essential, because rocks may be slippery.
Best Hikes in Zion – Your Safety is Most Important
Leave your itinerary with someone who will notice if you are overdue and report it to 911. Buy Travel Insurance because it is the basis of the journey. No matter if you are going an easy or slanderous hike, accidents may happen. It’s crucial to travel safely.
Best Hikes in Zion – The Angels Landing Hike Deteiled Description
Start of The Angels Landing Trail
The hike to Angels Landing Trailhead starts at the Grotto. It is the 6th stop for the Zion Canyon Shuttle in Zion’s main canyon, which operates from early spring through late fall. First, you must cross the Virgin River bridge and follow the paved trail north and up on the West Rim Trail. So you have to turn right after the bridge. The trail is well-marked. The path is hardened and comfortable. It is wide enough to pass with other hikers. The trail is quite steep uphill and strenuous.
The Refrigerator Canyon & Walter’s Wiggles
After 1.3 miles, cross a small bridge. The path gets you up into Refrigerator Canyon, which is a stunning view deep hanging side canyon. There is shade and a chilly part of the trail, so take a warm hoodie. Then you get to Walter’s Wiggles. It’s a series of 21 steep switchbacks before Scout Lookout. It was built in the 1930s. It’s a set of compact switchbacks that takes you the way up to the top of the ridge above the Refrigerator Canyon. It’s an example of the excellent engineering of the previous century, it is a marvel of trail building.
The Scout Lookout on Angels Landing Trail
The Scout Lookout is a wide platform with a great viewpoint. This point is 2.1 miles and 1,070 feet above the trailhead. From this point starts the final hike to the Angels Landing peak. From this point, chains start, too (Angels Landing chain section). It’s the best stop for rest before climbing, so eat snacks and drink water before the effort. Scout Lookout is generally the turnaround point for those who realize that the last part of climbing might not be for them.
Best Hikes in Zion – The Final Climb – the Angels Landing chain section
The final part of this hike is the most challenging and exhilarating. It’s called the Angels Landing chain section. The last half-mile of the trail is strenuous and lined with numerous sharp drop-offs and narrow paths. Chains to grip are provided for portions of the last half-mile to the top at 5,790 feet (1,760 m). You will be walking on the narrow spine of the mountain and climbing almost 500 more feet in elevation. Besides chains, there are also guardrails and carved steps, which help you reach the top. It’s a very exposed path, so it’s not for people with a fear of heights. There are spots to let other hikers go by and take a short break. At the top, you will get a stunning 360-degree view of the Canyon. It’s spectacular and worth your effort.
Return the way you came. Be exceptionally careful when going down. Rocks can be slippery.
Best Hikes in Zion – The Angels Landing Hike – Photo Tips
Early morning and late afternoon, including sunset, will give you the most interesting light for Zion Canyon photography. If you are going for the sunset you have to go down before it gets dark. Otherwise, the descent will be hazardous.
Regarding lenses, we recommend bringing something wide and bright (2.8 or lighter). The best examples are zooms like Sony 16-35, Nikon 14-24, or Canon 15-35. In case you have more standard zoom like 24-70 or fixed lens, you can just focus on details most of the time.
If you want to take a tripod, secure it thoroughly so that you do not hit someone climbing on the chains. It’s narrow there. But in our opinion it’s not necessary on this hike.
Wow! What a magnificent view!! Tragically, I would probably have to choose not to do this hike as I’m not so good with heights – going up is not so bad, but coming back down is usually much more difficult as I can more easily see the way right down to the bottom! It’s great that you have alternative suggestions for people like me, which also give us the chance to experience what this wonderful park has to offer. And now I know what it looks like because of your great photos 😀
I would definitely do this hike for this view. I am a hiker and love my natural landscape views and this one I would defo want to do when I finally hit up the Zion National Park. I also love to check out the Refrigerator Canyon, not just for the views and the hike but to say I walked into the fridge 😉 When is the best time to do hiking in this area? Does it get too hot in the summer and could this be done in the winter months. I havent been to this part of the world yet so doing my research on hiking trails for when I do come over.
We loved our visit to Zion. We did some of the easier hikes. But looked up at Angels Landing with awe. I am sure the views were worth the climb. And while I am not afraid of heights, the actual climb would be beyond my capability. Good to include a point about not being afraid to turn back. Sometimes we have started hikes only to realize that we either did not have the time or ability to finish. Or get back down. Good guide for serious hikers.
I love Zion National Park, but it’s been ages since we’ve been there. We never hiked to Angels’ Landing, but I doubt that I’ll ever be able to do it. I could probably go half way, but that final part looks pretty scary to me. I’ve seen some videos of it as well and I’m sure I’d freak out going up there. It’s a beautiful hike, I’ll have to say.
The trail looks scary but the view is worth the climb. In my own opinion based on what I read and saw, this trail isn’t good for beginners but if they are determined enough to finish it, this would be the best experience. I never been in trail longer than 3 hours hike.
I appreciate that you suggest people saying ‘hello’ before they attempt to pass hikers in front of them. There are too many trails I’ve hiked where people haven’t announced their presence and it sounds like the last part of Angels Landing is not where you want to be spooked. And also that there’s no shame in turning back and you should always determine what is safest for you.
One amazing thing about USA & Canada are your national parks. When I head there, I’m sure to buy the annual pass! I’m so fascinated by them always! The Zion trail too looks amazing! Thanks for the tip about heading there in spring or fall! Thanks for the tip about staying here at the entrance of the park overnight for going in early, as well!
Wow what a detailed post about hiking in Zion National Park. I loved the facts you have given about this hike, its difficulty levels, photography tips and how to deal with crowds. Angels Landing trail really looks spectacular.
First of all, compliments to you for the lovely tips that you have shared for not only this hike but most hikes. Some of it are basic etiquettes that a lot of new hikers do not know of. For example – the whole bit about the right of path. Coming to your own hike, sure it is high but the views are just so worth it. Found some of the names quite interesting like the refrigerator point. One sure knows what to expect.
Loved Zion. But I am not a hiker and definitely not a climber. Thanks gor taking me up there!
A great post with detailed tips on the Angel landing hike. It’s important to volant ahead to book a permit and aware of the weather conditions and stick up on energy as it can be strenuous. Hiking itself is a great exercise, I remember hiking in Lake Tahoe.
I heard about the permit for Angel Landing. It’s fair enough for a good reason as safety is always number one. Also, I like the courtesy of just saying hello when someone is trying to pass from behind.
We want to go back and hike Angels Landing and the Narrows so badly! When we visited it was March, still a little icy up on top to go. But it is on our bucket list!
What an amazing view!! This looks like such a fun hike with some pretty great views along the way! I liked how you also gave alternatives for people who may not want to do the hike, this is very helpful. Also you took some really awesome photos. Thanks for sharing!