Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park

If you’ve done any research on Zion National Park, it’s likely that you’ve come across the infamous hike to Angels Landing.  While certainly not one of the many easy hikes in Zion National Park, it is arguably one of the best.  The scenery is breathtaking-no question.  But the journey is equally as amazing.

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Though you may be excited to take on Angels Landing, the hike is not for everyone.  The hike includes chain-rails that you have to hold onto, narrow walkways and steep drop-offs that claim lives all too frequently.  And this is after a fairly rigorous trek before you reach the most dangerous part of the trail!

If you have the energy, the necessary gear, a reservation and are mentally and physically prepared, this hike is a must-do in Zion National Park, and highly recommended.  We hope our guide gives you a few pointers on what to expect and how to get yourself prepared for hiking Angels Landing!

ANGELS LANDING TRAIL DETAILS

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 5.4 miles (round-trip)
  • Trail: Out-and-back
  • Elevation gain: 1,609 feet
  • Peak elevation reached: 5,790 feet
  • Best time of year to hike: Early summer to late fall
  • To beat the crowds: Arrive before 8:00 am (reservations are required!)
  • Footwear: Hiking boots with ankle support
  • Watch out for: Sun exposure
  • Restrooms: Located at the trailhead with an emergency bathroom located at Scout Lookout
  • Pets: Not allowed
  • Time needed: 3.5 to 4 hours

 

zion national park itinerary

The Hike to Angels Landing is part of what there is to see and do in Zion National Park.  To get an idea of the other places to go in the park, check out our itinerary for Zion National Park.  We cover where to stay, what to do, the best hikes, what to pack and sample 1, 2 and 3 day itineraries for your trip to Zion.

 

ANGELS LANDING HIKE RESERVATIONS

In the last few years, the hike to Angels Landing has increased greatly in popularity.  If you want to hike it now, you need a reservation.  Reservations for Angels Landing are obtained by entering a lottery, which you must well ahead of when you visit.  The dates vary, but in general they open up about 3 months in advance.  The lottery registration lasts about 2.5 weeks, and then permits are issued 5 days after the lottery closes.

So, essentially, you’ll know if you get a permit 2-4 months in advance of your visit.

When you apply, you’ll have to select seven time / date selections and put them in ranked order.

To see the latest hiking / booking dates and get links to entering the lottery, go to the Angels Landing Permits page offered by the National Park Service.

 

PARKING AND TRAILHEAD FOR HIKING TO ANGELS LANDING

Zion National park map angels landing parking area

Angels Landing Trail parking area, courtesy of the National Park Service

The trailhead to hike Angels Landing is located at the parking lot for the Grotto (or shuttle stop #6).  Most of the year you will have to take the Zion Shuttle, which operates March through November, and weekends in February.  It also runs between Christmas and New Year in December.  For detailed information on the shuttle, see the NPS page on the Zion Shuttle.

The shuttle begins at stop #1 (Zion Canyon Visitor Center).  If you plan on getting the shuttle in the morning, it’s very busy most of the year.  You can plan on waiting a bit (at times over an hour) for the shuttle.  Therefore, you’ll want to arrive plenty early in the morning if you plan on getting up Angels Landing before it gets too hot in the day!

Another option is to stay at the Zion Lodge.  While pricey, the location is excellent.  You’ll be able to wake up and find yourself on the trail quickly.

Restrooms are available at the trailhead.  They are also on Scouts Lookout, but they are for use only if you are in an emergency.  The number of people that use the pit toilet up there is quite high and it’s hard to haul out the waste, so you can expect it to be not in the best condition.

ANGELS LANDING TRAIL: TRAIL SURFACE AND ACCESSIBILITY

  • Trail surface. Though the hike itself has plenty of danger, the trail itself is in great shape.  For most of the way it is packed dirt, with a bit of rock while you climb up from Scouts Lookout to Angels Landing.   
  • Accessibility.  The trail is not wheelchair accessible and you need to be sure on your feet and have enough arm strength to help support you while holding onto the chains.  

PREPARATION FOR HIKING TO ANGELS LANDING

This hike is strenuous and there isn’t any way to get supplies or additional water while you are out on the trail.  Be sure you bring with you what you need.  Here’s what we recommend you have, at a minimum:

  • Reservations.  As mentioned earlier, in order to hike Angels Landing you do need to have reservations, which are obtained through the lottery.  If you don’t have reservations, don’t attempt to climb up to the top!  Be sure you have a copy of your reservation before you start your hike!
  • Water.  The trail is exposed, Utah is dry and the sun can be hot, even in the winter.  Bring plenty of water.  And since you will want to have your hands free so you can hold onto something, we recommend getting a hydration pack to take with you.  There aren’t any refill stations along the way, so be sure you bring plenty with you!
  • Sun Protection. You need to bring sunscreen or a hat, as well as sunglasses.
  • Hiking Boots. This is not the trail to take a chance on footwear.  Bring your best hiking boots with you so they are sturdy when climbing on the rocks!

ANGELS LANDING DETAILS

Since Angels Landing is such a well-known spot, you may think that it’s the highest point in Zion National Park.  That’s actually not the case, as there are many more peaks in the park that are higher than Angels Landing.  Angels Landing is 5,970 feet in elevation, and the highest point is nearly 2,000 feet higher (West Temple, which is 7,810 feet).  To get here, you have to head to the lesser visited part of Zion, Kolob Canyons.

One nearby hike that is very impressive as well is the hike to Observation Point, which is about 600 feet higher than Angels Landing and offers similar views.  But the hike is much longer, making it less popular.

 

HIKING THE WEST RIM TRAIL TO ANGELS LANDING

Angels Landing trail map

West Rim Trail to Angels Landing map, courtesy of the National Park Service

The trail starts right from the Grotto shuttle stop and heads west across a bridge over the Virgin River.  Shortly after the bridge, the trail reaches a “T” that allows you to go left (onto the Kayenta Trail and the Emerald Pools) or to the right on the West Rim Trail.  To get to Angels Landing, take a right.

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

While on the West Rim Trail, you’ll have great views of Zion Canyon to the north.  We hiked it in the early morning, and seeing the sun come up was wonderful.  The canyon turned from being covered in shadows to being bathed in sunshine in the hour as we headed up to Scouts Lookout.

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

The trail starts to gain elevation slowly, but picks up almost constantly for the first mile.  At the one-mile point, there is a set of switchbacks on a paved portion of the trail before reaching Refrigerator Canyon, which offers a nice bit of shade.  The trail continues north through the shade before taking a sharp U-turn to the right.

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

It is here that the trail comes to a set of 21 switchbacks knowns as Walters Wiggles.  This helps hikers gain 250 feet in a relatively short distance.  These “wiggles” were named for Walter Ruesch, who was the first park superintendent and built this route in 1926.  Though not easy, the change of scenery was great for distracting our young kids!

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

After Walters Wiggles, the trail continues to the trailhead for Angels Landing.  A brief stopping point that is worth checking out is Scout Lookout.  This is slightly further on the West Rim Trail, and offers amazing views.  There is a railing that protects you from falling down the 1050 ft. drop!  The views from here are great, even if you decide to not hike up to Angels Landing from here.

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

After continuing onto the Angels Landing Trail, you can expect the pace of hiking to slow down drastically from here forward as you head into the Hogback section.  It’s only a half-mile to the peak, but a combination of a large number of people, a narrow path and steep drop-offs will make you want to walk slow.  Where there are the most dangerous spots, the National Park Service has installed chains to help ensure you are safe-but it’s still quite scary!

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Once you get to Angels Landing you’ll want to take a break and soak in the view!  The main view is Zion Canyon to the south.  Breathtaking just doesn’t describe it!

Angels Landing in Zion National Park

ANGELS LANDING TRAIL: TOP LIKES AND DISLIKES

Likes:

  • Breathtaking views. There are good views on almost every part of this trail, from the Zion Canyon floor, through Walters Wiggles, at Scout Lookout and lastly at Angels Landing. 
  • Challenging and rewarding. When you finish this hike, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment-no doubt!
  • Perfectly maintained path. The trail is well traveled, but it’s taken care of with great attention to detail. 

Dislikes:

  • Crowds.  Though the reservations are necessary, it would be nice if it wasn’t so busy.  Having other hikers around who may not be as careful as you may make you nervous, particularly on the Hogback section.
  • Danger.  There is no debating that this hike is risky.  Though many people hike it each year without any problems, people do fall and perish when they slip.  Just take it slow and turn around if you don’t feel comfortable!

 Angels Landing in Zion National Park

HIKING ANGELS LANDING IN WINTER

Angels Landing can be hiked at any time of the year, including winter.  However, it frequently has ice and snow in December through February.  If you hike in the winter, we have a few additional recommendations:

  • Do not hike this without traction for your shoes. We highly recommend Hillsound Trail Crampons, as they are easy to put on and take off and offer great grip, even on dry rock.
  • Go slow on the Angels Landing Trail after Scout Lookout. You won’t’ get an award for finishing this hike in record time, so be extra careful in the winter.

THINGS TO DO NEAR THE ANGELS LANDING TRAIL

There are a ton of things to do in this part of Zion National Park.  We recommend the following (if you have the energy after hiking Angels Landing!):

  • While you may not be in the mood for a long hike, the Kayenta Trail to the Upper Emerald Pool Trail is worth considering. Starting from shuttle stop #6 (or just by continuing straight when you get a chance to cross the Virgin River to head back to the Grotto Area), this hike is 2.5 miles with only 200 feet or so of elevation gain.  It goes to the Upper Emerald Pools.
  • If you head one shuttle stop to the north (stop #7), you can visit the Weeping Rock Trail. This 0.4-mile (round-trip) trail is steep, but heads to a rockface that is constantly dripping water.
  • One shuttle stop to the south (stop #5) is Zion Lodge. This is a really cool place to go and check out and grab a snack.  The architecture is great, like most National Park lodges!

FURTHER INFORMATION ON ZION NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

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Angels Landing in Zion National Park

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About Just Go Travel Studios

We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

As much as we enjoy traveling, we also love sharing our knowledge and helping others create everlasting memories through our custom-made travel posters, downloadable travel itineraries and detailed blog articles.

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