Angels Landing is one of the most dangerous and most popular hikes in the United States. It’s a very strenuous hike that is not for the faint of heart. However, if you are interested in doing it, this Guide to Hiking Angels Landing has everything you need to know before hiking Zion National Park’s most famous hike!
The Basics of Hiking Angels Landing:
Distance: 5.4 miles (round-trip)
Time: 3 to 5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation Gain: 1,500 ft
When to Go: Year-round (not during bad weather)
What to Bring When Hiking Angels Landing?
Hiking Shoes/Trail Running Shoes
Proper footwear is essential to any hike, but especially one as strenuous and dangerous as Angels Landing. Hiking boots are a great way to go if you are a serious hiker and are going to use them regularly. However, it’s understandable that you don’t want to drop that cash if you’re not regularly hiking technical trails.
In this case, opt for trail running shoes. They have excellent traction and are good for technical trails. The biggest downside is that they don’t have the same ankle support as hiking boots. However, you will get more use out of them in everyday settings. Our recommendations are the Nike Wildhorse or Nike Terra Kiger.
Temperatures can change regularly when hiking in Zion, and especially when hiking Angels Landing as you are in different parts of the canyon. It’s smart to be prepared for any situation.
If you are hiking in spring, summer, or fall, a lightweight waterproof jacket is perfect. It will keep you warm, dry, and won’t be too heavy to carry. Obviously in winter, bring a warmer jacket…
Pretty simple here. Save your eyes from the blinding Utah sun. They will really come in handy when you are exposed hiking out to Angels Landing as there is no real shade in the last 0.5 miles.
You will probably want to bring a day pack or small backpack to carry snacks, water, and anything else you might need. Unless you’re planning on doing overnight hikes, you don’t need anything too big. The Osprey Talon 22 or the Arkadia Supply Sea to Sky Pack both work well, with the latter being waterproof.
Water. Water. Water.
This is obvious. Bring water, or you will get dehydrated. If you are hiking and worried about potable water, check out a Lifestraw Water Bottle. It purifies any water so it’s safe to drink.
Pack yourself some snacks so you don’t run out of energy. As a reminder, whatever you pack in, pack out. Don’t leave trash anywhere.
Zion National Park, and especially Angels Landing, have some of the most impressive views in the world. You will want something to take some photos! Whether it’s a smartphone, camera, or GoPro, bring a camera to capture the natural beauty of Angels Landing and Zion.
Getting to Angels Landing Trailhead
Zion National Park does not allow cars into the park. You have to park at the Visitor Center or Museum and catch a shuttle bus. The buses come fairly frequently, but there can be lines during busy seasons and peak times of day. Your best bet is to get into the park early, so you aren’t waiting in lines for too long.
Once on the bus, take it to the The Grotto, stop number 6. There is access to water and bathrooms here, so make use of them because you will not have this while hiking Angels Landing.
Cross the road and then the bridge over the Virgin River to get on the trail. The hike is fairly easy at first as you’re walking along the river on a trail that is only slightly increasing in elevation. However, you can look up and see the huge monolith where Angels Landing sits atop. Pretty soon, you’ll be up there…
After about 15 minutes, you will begin your climb as the trail starts to switch back on itself and increase in elevation. This entire first part of the hike is about 2 miles before you get a break and hit Refrigerator Canyon.
The trail levels out here, and if you are hiking Angels Landing on a hot, sunny day, this is a wonderful place to relax and take a breather as it’s also cool and shaded, hence the name Refrigerator Canyon.
After passing through Refrigerator Canyon on your way to Angels Landing, you will hit the infamous, final ascent called Walter’s Wiggles. These “wiggles” are a series of 21 switchbacks that move up quickly back and forth, and up, to Scout’s Lookout.
Scout’s Lookout is where a lot of people stop and do not continue onto Angels Landing. It’s a good idea to stop, have some water, and relax.
The last 0.5 miles of the hike to Angels Landing is not for the faint of heart. There are signs warning hikers of the dangers Angels Landing presents.
People have fallen to their death on this trail. It is exposed and can be brutally hot in the summer, or icy and slippery in the winter. Do not attempt if raining, snowing or freezing, as this amplifies the dangers. As the signs at the trailhead warn, “your safety is your responsibility.”
The hike from Scout’s Lookout to Angels Landing climbs another 500 feet in elevation and is only 0.5 miles, but there are steep, sheer drop-offs on both sides of the trail. If you have a fear of heights, hiking Angels Landing might not be for you.
There are 800 to 1000 foot drops on either side of the trail that’s only about 3-4 feet wide in some places. While there is a metal chain to hold onto for most of the hike and a well-worn trail to stay on, it is not somewhere you want to be if you think you might have a panic attack about the heights.
That being said, it’s not the most strenuous part of the hike, and people of all ages do it. Make sure that you are mentally prepared and take your time doing it. There is no point in rushing such a dangerous hike.
Also, make sure to check the weather before doing it. Any guide to hiking Angels Landing will tell you that inclement weather can be fatal on this hike. It’s not something you want to do if there is a chance of a storm or high winds. In the summer, be cautious of the heat in the afternoon as it can get really hot on Angels Landing too.
If you’ve checked the weather, rationalized your fears of heights, and have decided to hike Angels Landing but are still a little nervous, here are our top 3 recommendations for hiking out to Angels Landing:
1. Take it one step at a time until you reach Angels Landing
2. Make sure you have 3 points on contact with the ground or metal rail at all times
3. Let faster people pass, so you are not rushed
With those 3 recommendations, your hike out to Angels Landing will go a lot smoother and be a lot safer.
Once you reach Angels Landing, you will know that the entire hike was worth it!
The views are spectacular and cannot be beat, with their 360° views of the Zion Canyon. Take photos, rest, and enjoy your time up there because you did it! You hiked Angels Landing!
On your way back down, take the same precautions as you did with the way up. After hiking the 0.5 miles back to Scout’s Lookout, it’s all downhill from there. Enjoy the views, hydrate, and know that you accomplished one of the most dangerous hikes in the world.
Hopefully, this Guide to Hiking Angels Landing at Zion National Park has helped you decide if you want to hike Angels Landing or prepared you for it!