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Unlike Canyonlands and Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park was a National Park that I knew I wanted to visit before our three-month road trip across America. I was pretty set on doing a hike called The Narrows. It’s where you basically wade through water as you go deeper and deeper into a narrow canyon. Despite the fact you get wet, it sounded pretty cool.
It turned out it was too cool. The insane amount of snow that America got that winter (which caused us to have to take many a detour) was just starting to melt. This made for a very high, fast-flowing river and even colder waters.
The Zion National Park Narrows hike was closed, quite sensibly, so we instead decided to do a hike called Angels Landing.
Zion National Park differs from a lot of America’s National Parks as you have to take a shuttle bus through the park. In other parks, this is either not available or only optional. As we passed the stop for Angels Landing, the pre-recorded tour guide informed us that “many people have died on this trail.”
So we hiked it.
In all honesty, it is a little sketchy when you’re walking along with a piece of rock no wider than your foot while clinging on to a chain and trying to make room for people to pass in the other direction.
If you’re wondering “how dangerous is Angels Landing?” It isn’t so much the hike that I felt was dangerous, it was the number of people going up and down. There’s currently no permit to hike Angels Landing, but I’m sure that’ll change soon.
Despite the above, the hike is amazing and stands out as our favourite from our trip. Climbing Angels Landing will take your breath away in more ways than one.
If you’re looking for Zion hikes then be sure to check out this one! It’s truly one of the best Zion National Park day hikes you can do.
About the Angels Landing Hike
Angels Landing, Zion is one of the world’s most renowned hikes. It’s relatively short and is probably on most hikers’ bucket lists. It’s the most popular hike in Zion National Park, Utah and, in my view, one of the best hikes in Zion.
As you hike, and from the top, you’ll get views of Zion Canyon’s 270 million-year-old rock layers. You need to be pretty fit to do the hike as it’s steep. You also need to be good with heights and be able to put up with some steep switchbacks (21!) known as Walter’s Wiggles.
At the end of Walter’s Wiggles, you come out to Scout Lookout. This last part is the scary, narrow part but if you’re up for some extreme hiking it’s also the most fun bit!
For the last 1.3km / 0.8miles you’ll climb along a narrow path and use chains bolted in the rock to avoid falling. Do not do this part if you don’t like heights.
Angels Landing hike statistics
Here are the statistics for hiking Angels Narrows via the West Rim trail.
Zion National Park Angels Landing trail map
You can see a full trail map for Angels Landing in Zion National Park on AllTrails.com. They also have a Zion trail map for other hikes in the park too.
It’s a well-signposted hike and it’s also very busy so it’s easy to find the way during your hike. However, you can also find Zion National Park trail maps at the visitor centre.
You can see a Zion National Park map in my guide to Zion here.
When is the best time to hike Angels Landing, Utah?
The Angels Landing is good to hike for most of the year with the best times being spring and fall as it’s not too hot and there’s no snow. The same applies when it comes to the best time to hike in Zion for other hikes too.
While the Angels Landing trail is open in winter, I strongly advise against hiking this trail in winter. Snow and ice make this trail even more dangerous than it usually is.
If you are visiting Zion National Park in the summer, then bear in mind that it gets very hot in the afternoon and a lot of the trail is exposed.
Regardless of what time of year you hike Angels Landing, it’s best to start hiking early in the morning when it’s a bit cooler and usually less busy too. The same goes for any Zion trails.
The National Parks Service advise you never to hike when a thunderstorm is predicted as the peak of Angels Landing is likely to get struck by lightning.
Zion National Park Entrance Fees
The Zion National Park pass costs $35 per car, this lasts for 7 consecutive days.
If you’re entering by foot, bike or by taking the Zion National Park shuttle bus then the entrance fee is $20 per person and under 15s are free.
If you’re visiting a few US National Parks over the course of a year then you’ll be better off buying the “America is Beautiful National Parks Pass” from REI for $80.
What to know about the Angels Landing, Zion hike
There are a few things you should know before hiking Angels Landing to make sure you have a safe, enjoyable hike.
- WATER: Make sure you carry plenty of water (about a gallon each). There’s a fountain near the trailhead where you can fill up your bottles but there’s nowhere else to get water on the trail.
- FUEL: Take snacks! It’s a strenuous hike so you’ll want to make sure you keep your energy levels up!
- START EARLY: Start hiking Angels Landing early as it gets very hot in Zion National Park later on in the day
- RESTROOMS: There are restrooms at the trailhead and then there’s a pit toilet at Scout Lookout.
- BACKPACK: Make sure you have a backpack as you’ll need to use the Angels Landing chains to climb up certain sections of this trail. This means you’ll need to be handsfree!
- NO PETS: Angels Landing is not dog-friendly. Once you hike it you’ll quickly understand why. It’s busy enough as it is and crazy narrow! In fact, there are no dogs allowed on any Zion National Park trails.
- Angels Landing deaths: The National Parks Service says that since 2004, 8 people have died from falling off the cliffs on this trail. However, around 4.3 million people visit Zion National Park a year. If you’re careful there shouldn’t be any problems.
What to pack for your Angels Landing hike
Here are a few things you should pack for your Zion National Park Angels Landing hike that’ll make things more comfortable and safe.
A day pack
You’ll definitely need a backpack for this Zion hike. When you get to the final part of the hike you’ll be relying on cables to help you stay on the trail. For that, you’ll need to be hands-free and not be holding water, a camera or snacks. That’s what your day pack will be for!
I love my Lowe Alpine Aeon backpack that can fit in everything I need for a day hike and has super handy pockets on the waist strap that is great for keeping your phone or a tasty snack bar!
Water, and lots of it!
Whenever you’re hiking Angels Landing you’ll need to take plenty of water with you. You’ll want at least 2 litres per person.
Good hiking shoes
You’ll want something that’s made for hiking rather than fashion but it doesn’t matter whether they’re boots or shoes. That’s just down to preference. I prefer shoes like these Keen Terradora shoes (plus they’re a cool colour too!).
Make sure you’ve dressed appropriately according to the weather forecast but be aware it may rain unexpectedly, in which case you’ll want some lightweight waterproofs.
This is especially needed in the summer but if you’re fair-skinned like me you’ll want it in autumn and spring too.
The peak of Angels Landing makes the perfect place for a lunchtime picnic. We usually get some crisps and make up a sandwich before going on a hike like this.
Make sure you pack a camera or at least your phone. The view up there is a good one!
Check out my camera gear here.
How to hike Angels Landing Trail
Here’s are some Angels Landing hike details for how to reach the summit of Angels Landing. Consider this your Zion National Park hiking guide for Angels Landing.
How to get to Angels Landing trailhead
The Angels Landing trail head is accessed from “Stop #6 – The Grotto” shuttle stop in Zion National Park.
The shuttle system runs for most of the year. During that time the only place you can park in Zion is by the visitor centre. These parking spots get full very early on in the day. Alternatively, you can park in Springdale and get the shuttle bus into Zion and stop #6 – The Grotto, to start you Angels Landing hike.
Angels Landing trail, Zion stages
Here is a breakdown of the Angels Landing trail with a bit more detail about what to expect on this incredible Zion National Park hiking trail.
The Angels Landing hike starts off just across the road from the Grotto Picnic Area. This is where the shuttle will drop you off. If you need more water or the toilet, go here as there’s not really anywhere to go once you’re started hiking.
From here, cross the bridge over the river and onto the West Rim Trail towards Angels Landing. Initially, the trail is paved and easy underfoot.
After a relatively easy start, there are a few switchbacks as you arrive in Refrigerator Canyon. You’ll see why the canyon gets its name when you notice the coolness in here. Make the most of it!
After the canyon, you’ll come out to Walter’s Wiggles. These Zion National Park switchbacks feature a series of 21 zig-zags which are both tight and steep. Despite the fact it’s steep, just keep plodding along and you’ll get to the top eventually.
From Walter’s Wiggles, you’ll arrive at Scout Lookout and get your first proper view of the challenge ahead. The paved path is no longer and you’ll get a glimpse of the chains and narrow trail that are up next.
This is where some people stop if they’re not sure about continuing along the narrow part of the trail.
Honestly, I think the next part is the best part of the whole hike!
Angels Landing Spine
The last 0.5 miles of the trail follows a ridge where things are steep and great fun. This is the scariest part of Angels Landing.
It’s not so much the elevation that’ll tire you out, but the concentration and crawling (and probably nerves too!) that you’ll be doing. You’ll also find yourself having to stop a lot to let people pass in the other direction. Which is sometimes much appreciated as you can catch your breath.
There are a few areas where things get hairy (like when people are trying to squeeze past you on their way down when you go up or the other way around), so do make use of the chain.
Don’t be afraid to crawl over some of the rocks. Just do whatever you feel comfortable doing and take things at your own pace. Don’t feel pressure to speed up or continue on if you really don’t want to.
I personally loved the challenge of being on such a small path and so high up. But, having said that, I made sure not to look down until we were at the top where there’s a bit more room for manoeuvre!
Angels Landing summit
And you’ve made it! Things open up a bit more when you reach the top and you can sit and take a breather, get those photos and enjoy the incredible 360 views of Zion Canyon below from the top of Angels Landing!