Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Author:
Publish date:
A hiker near the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park, holding onto the chains and taking a selfie photo.

A hiker near the top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park, holding onto the chains and taking a selfie photo.

Angels Landing by Don Brown

View from Angels Landing by Don Brown

The towering rock formation known as "Angels Landing" soars 1,488 feet above the Virgin River in Zion National Park. For those who reach the summit, the reward is a spectacular view of Zion Canyon and surrounding cliffs.

Although the hike is only five miles up and back, most hikers take four hours to make the round-trip. After all, you are climbing 1,488 feet in elevation, up steep switchbacks. The last half mile is along an exposed ridge where accidents or carelessness can prove fatal. You're safe as long as you stay on the trail, but literally risk your life if you leave the trail.

Park officials recommend an early morning departure so you can beat the heat of the mid-day sun. (You really don't want to be up there in the late afternoon, trying to get down in the dark.)

The hiking trail to Angels Landing in Zion. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

The hiking trail to Angels Landing in Zion. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Preparing for your Angels Landing Hike

Being prepared to hike the Angels Landing Trail means hiking boots or closed-toe hiking shoes with non-slip soles (sandals, flip-flops and dress shoes are all bad ideas), a day-pack to carry plenty of water and salty snacks, plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.

According to the National Park Service, "The route to Angels Landing involves travel along a steep, narrow ridge with support chains anchored intermittently along the route. Footing can be slippery even when the rock is dry. Unevenly surfaced steps are cut into the rock with major cliff dropoffs adjacent. Keep off when it is wet, icy or thunderstorms are in the area. Plan to be off before dark. Younger children should skip this trail; older children must be closely supervised."

Logistics of Angels Landing Hiking

To climb Angels Landing, take the shuttle bus to the Grotto drop off point. The trail follows the Virgin River for awhile, then gets steeper as it leaves the river. You'll climb up switchbacks, be refreshed by cool breezes from Refrigerator Canyon, then surmount the 21 tight switchbacks of Walter's Wiggles, named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. Ruesch designed and led the construction of the Angels Landing Trail during the Great Depression. Workers hung from ropes for $3.50 a day, as they chipped a trail out of solid rock.

When you reach Scout Lookout (at 1,000 feet above the canyon floor), it is time to make one of several decisions. You can stay and enjoy the spectacular view, drink some water, eat a snack and head back to the Grotto after you catch your breath.

Or you can hike another 488 feet to Angels Landing, along a narrow spine of rock and a trail that's only a few feet wide, with 1,000-foot dropoffs on either side. Support chains help increase your peace of mind. Some spots are narrow, so be courteous as you pass others going up or down. The 360-degree view from Angels Landing is blow-your-mind "Wow!"

Finally, there's less scary hiking options -- a day-hike out on West Rim Trail, or a longer 12-mile hike to the high plateau of Lava Point.

Horizontal rule

Need a map? Download an official Zion National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. Want a detailed topographical map of trails in the park? Buy the NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map for Zion National Park at REI.com. The map includes trails, trailheads, points of interest, campgrounds, lakes and much more. Or get the complete Utah National Parks Map Pack with five topographic maps. All of the NatGeo maps are printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.

If you buy from shopping links on this website, National Park Trips may receive an affiliate commission.

Related

Solo hiker in the Zion Narrows in Zion National Park in Utah

Hiking the Virgin River through Zion Narrows

This slot canyon in Zion National Park, is the premier and most accessible slot canyon in the Southwest. Hikers can take the easy, moderate or challenging route.

Winter snow dusting the Court of the Patriarchs along the Virgin River in Zion National Park

Winter Recreation in Zion National Park

Zion's snowcapped mountains are spectacular in the winter. The canyon is not normally subject to heavy snow, so hiking and biking are still popular.

Beautiful Zion National Park with the Virgin River and the Court of the Patriarchs

11 Rock Formations in Zion National Park

Zion has the most impressive formations that are up to 2,500 feet thick, making it the world's deepest desert landscape. Check these must-sees off your list.

zion-hikes

Favorite Zion National Park Hikes

Everyone should take the scenic short hike to Weeping Rock Trail. The half-mile climb is doable for almost everyone, yet offers many of the key attractions that make Zion, Zion.

Emerald Pools Waterfall

Waterfalls in Zion National Park

Somehow, one doesn't expect desert terrain to be home of some of the world's most spectacular water features. But, Zion is full of waterfalls from snow melt.

A hiker approaches Wall Street in the Zion Narrow

10 Best Things to Do in Utah National Parks

Be sure to hit one, or all, of the Top 10 Things to do and see in Utah Parks. There’s slot canyons, arches, museums, dinosaurs and more.

Hiking inside of Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park

Which Trail Should I Hike in Arches National Park?

What to expect on Arches National Park trails, from an incredibly popular arch hike to a difficult desert scramble in a remote area.

A hiker in Spooky Gulch in Grand Staircase Escalente National Monument

Top 5 Southern Utah Hikes

Play the slots and explore slickrock wonderlands in Canyonlands, Grand Gulch, Zion, and Grand Staircase Escalante. Squeeze through Peek-a-boo Gulch.

Dog drinking water out of a water bottle

Can I Bring My Pet to Zion National Park?

Leashed dogs are not allowed on any trails or wilderness areas, except the Pa’rus Trail. Access the trail from Canyon Junction or the visitors center.