Updated: Aug 26
If you’re an avid hiker, or National Park enthusiast from the United States, you are probably familiar with the Angel’s Landing hike. Angel’s Landing is one of, if not the most popular hike in Zion National Park in Utah. This 5.4-mile hike requires stamina, minimal fear of heights, and determination. If you have heard of Angel’s Landing, I’m sure you’re familiar that it is considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the National Park System, but as long as you are patient, and mindful of your actions and those around you, the hike will be fine!
This is a hike that has been on my hiking bucket list for a while now, and after accomplishing it recently, I can definitely say it is one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever done so far. Despite the challenge, I absolutely recommend this hike, as the experience was thrilling, and the 365-degree views were astonishing. In this post, I’m going to walk you through my experience hiking Angel’s Landing to hopefully encourage, and or prepare you to do it yourself!
To Get to Angel’s Landing:
To access Angel’s Landing you need to take the Zion shuttle system. We got to Zion mid day during a week day, and unfortunately, the park was already full. We had to park about 1.5 miles outside of the park, and take the Springdale Shuttle to the visitor’s center. From the visitor’s center, we crossed over the bridge to the Zion shuttle, and took the shuttle to stop number 6. Once you reach the destination, get off the shuttle, and cross the street to the West Rim Trail, where you will be faced with a series of switchbacks pretty much off the bat.
Once at the Trailhead:
Angel’s Landing is a strenuous 5.4-mile out and back trail. The first 2-miles or so of the trail take you on a series of steep switchbacks, which in my opinion were the hardest part of the hike due to the quick and steep elevation increase. Most of these switchbacks are directly in the sun, but towards the end they start to become shaded, which certainly made the experience easier. After conquering the long, steep sets of switchbacks, we came out to a pretty open area that had two different paths- Angel’s Landing to the right or continue onto the West Rim Trail to the left, as well as a bathroom. This is when it gets interesting –
The next mile or so are definitely not for someone with a fear of heights, and from what I’ve read or heard other people’s experiences this is the part that most people stop and turn around at. Although the views from this point were stunning, we were determined to keep going. The next mile is quite literally a single person pathway of rocks with steep drop-offs on either side. Scary right? To try and explain what the trail truly looked like, even through pictures is very difficult to do, but I am going to do my best! There are chains mounted into the ground that you can to hold onto for balance purposes, and at points use to hoist yourself up to climb up the rocks. Since Angel’s Landing does get so crowded, it is best to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds. However, if you go midday like we did, you just have to wait sometimes for the people coming down to pass before heading up. (Starting in April 2022, Angel's Landing will start requiring a permit to hike it, however, I am not sure what the permit process is.) We didn’t mind this as it gave us chances to rest, and chat with the people behind us. The chains weren’t too bad for the first couple hundred feet, until we reached another little platform area and looked ahead and saw this
That was finally the point where we all started to get a little nervous, but once again, we were determined. After conquering the mile or so of trying not to look down to either side of us at the 5,000 foot dropoffs, and being more cautious with our movements than ever before, we finally reached the top. A 5,400+ foot elevation with spectacular views, and very, very curious chipmunks who were certainly not afraid to climb on or around you. The top of the hike provided 365-degree views and some nice shady spots to enjoy lunch. After spending some time at the top we headed back down. If we thought the chains were tough coming up, it was certainly more nerve wrecking coming down, and personally required some butt scooting (just to be safe!) I will say, coming down, we had to wait for a lot less people, and the descent down the chains was pretty quick. Finally we reached the switchbacks again, and started our descent down. The overall hike took us about 3 hours (about 1.5 hours up, 30 or so minutes at the top, and 1 hour back down).
I 100% recommend this hike, and am not only happy that I got to do it, but am also proud of myself for pushing myself way past my comfort zone for hiking. This is certainly a hike I would love to do again in the future when I return to Zion. If you are going to do this hike, prepare for it! Bring plenty of water (I had 2 Nalgenes, and a Gatorade), some snacks, and sunscreen. Take your time hiking it, especially up the switchbacks. You don’t want to waste all of your energy on the switchbacks because the most important part is the chains. I took plenty of short breaks to catch my breath (my east coast lungs were not used to the thin, high elevation air). I saw all different people doing this hike, including a child that could not have been more than 4-5 years old, however, as this hike does require a high level of stamina, strength and energy, in my opinion, it is best if you are a somewhat experienced hiker, in decent physical condition. As a hiker, you know your limits, and while it is okay to push them to an extent, know when it is too much as this is a hike you do not want to mess around on!
If you want similar views to Angel’s Landing with a much less treacherous hike, check out Canyon Overlook. You have to drive to this trailhead, but it is a 1-mile out and back trail with views similar to Angel’s Landing at the top!
My experience checking this bucket list hike off my list is one I will never forget. Thanks for reading, and as always, there’s always more to be explored!