Updated on January 25, 2021
The knees were shaking after reaching the top of the Angels Landing. Climbing a steep, reddish wall, with the chains is not easy. But the reward is the best view of the 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. If you have a fear of heights it might be not for you, because the last part of the hike is a very exposed cliff. In this article, we share our experience of how to prepare for this 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.
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Angels Landing Trail Info & Map
The Angels Landing, Utah, is a strenuous and exposed day hike, especially challenging is the last part of the climbing with chains on the cliff. So it’s not recommended trail for people with a fear of heights, and for small children.
1488 feet (453 m)
Hiking Distance – Time Required & Lenth
Round Trip Duration is around 4 – 5 hours (depends on your physical condition and pace of walking); 5.4 miles (8.7 km)
The Grotto, Shuttle Stop number 6. From the Zion National Park Visitor Center, ride the shuttle for approximately twenty minutes and get off at the Grotto Shuttle Stop. Head west toward the river to find the trailhead.
The Angels Landing Trail Features:
The Angels Landing is a unique fin-like mountain formation. The trail offers spectacular views of 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.
Zion National Park is open year-round. But always check if the Angels Landing Trail is open, sometimes might be close 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 rain, the rocks and climbing can be very tricky, too. 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 hike, and remember the weather can change suddenly.
No permit is required for this hike. Standard Park entrance fees apply.
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The Angels Landing Hiking Tips
Knowledge, preparation, and a good plan are your keys to success, and a great hike. Below are some of our hiking hints that will 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 Trail
Although challenging, this trail can be very crowded, especially during the summer months. Therefore, if you are going during tourist peak season or a weekend, or holiday, be prepared that the hike may take more time. The ascent to the top is steep, so you can wait in line to get the last part of the trail with chains. Unfortunately, the crowd can be dangerous, because people can be careless unconcerned. The crowd is the biggest by mid-afternoon. So, if you want to avoid the crowd, consider going on the hike early in the morning or late afternoon. It’s worth thinking about staying overnight near the Park entrance so that you can 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.
Dealing with Crowd
However, if you can’t avoid the crowd on the trail, be 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. They can behave unpredictably, so be careful. Most of all, 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. If you’re about to pass another hiker from behind, a simple “hello” is often the best way to announce your presence.
Be Aware of Exposure of The Angels Landing Trail
The Angels Landing Trail is spectacular but the last part of the hike is really strenuous and exposed. You hike along a narrow and precipitous rock formation. You climb with the 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 whether this trail is for you. There are several beautiful trails in Zion National Park (you will find our recommendations here), which also provides 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 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, when the chains start, there is a large platform. It’s a place named Scout Lookout with a beautiful view, too. A lot of 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, check the symptoms of diseases such as Heat illness, Hypothermia, and Hyponatremia. Be honest about your health and fitness. Know your limits.
Do Not Feed Wildlife & Leave No Trace
There is 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 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 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. So eat more before you start hiking, even double your average intake. You should always balance hydration with salty and high-protein snacks, and electrolytes, or protein bars, and you should rest frequently. Check our other hiking tips.
What to Pack for this Hike?
No matter if the trail is short or long, easy or demanding, you always have to be prepared for your hike. Accidents happen, or the weather can change dramatically in a few minutes. So, check a list of our essentials, the most necessary things you must have on the trail.
The most important thing is to dress appropriately for the weather. Remember that it can change quickly, so even during summer it’s worth to pack a warm hoodie or jacket, and something rainproof. 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.
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. We always use World Nomads.
The Angels Landing Trail Description
Start of The Angels Landing Hike
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 have to cross the bridge over the Virgin River and follow the paved trail north and up on the West Rim Trail. So you have to turn right after 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 it’s 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 1930’s. 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
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. 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.
The Final Climb
The final part of this hike is the most challenging and exhilarating, too. 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. Except for chains, there are also guard-rails and carved steps, which help you reach the top. It’s a very exposed path, so it’s not for people with the fear of heights, for sure. 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.
The Angels Landing 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.