Conquering Zion’s Dangerous Angels Landing Hike

Post Summary: An experience recap of hiking Angels Landing, and how you should prepare for this hike in Zion National Park.

Angels Landing. With 1000-foot sheer drops on either side of this ridge trail, this is one of the most dangerous hikes in the United States.

There have been six recorded deaths on the trail since 2004.

Now, we aren’t telling you this to discourage you from hiking it, but rather to instill the seriousness that this trail requires. It takes patience, steady feet, and preparation to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you dare make it up to the top, climbers are rewarded with a 360-degree view of the incredible Zion National Park Canyon at nearly 6000 feet!

Still interested?

Berty and I documented our story here to share with you insider tips and a sneak peek of what you might expect when hiking the EPIC Angels Landing!

*Important Note*  – Many of these photos are taken on our descent. We were very focused when climbing up and we kept our cameras mostly tucked away. The pictures are in order of ascent, but many show us on the trail walking DOWN. Don’t be confused!

Angels Landing - The Mandagies
Perfect example: This was taken on the platform going DOWN from Angels Landing

Conquering Zion’s Dangerous Angels Landing Hike

Angels Landing Trail Details

  • 5.4-mile round trip (4-mile round trip if you turn around at Scout’s Landing)
  • Over 1,400 feet of elevation gain
  • Constant uphill trail – there are even some parts with 20+ switchbacks!
  • Best time to hike Angels Landing is in the spring, summer, and fall
  • 1000-foot drops on either side of the narrow ridge trail
  • Not recommended if you have a fear of heights!

Read More: The Complete Guide To All 5 Utah National Parks

The Trail Begins

During the summer months, Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles so we suggest arriving *very* early to Zion to park at the Visitors Center.

From there, you can catch a shuttle bus into the park. The buses come often so don’t worry too much if you miss one. Take the shuttle bus to The Grotto (Stop #6 – see Zion map here) to reach the Angels Landing Trailhead.

The beginning of the trail is a deceptively easy and gradual climb where you can see Angels Landing in front of you. The trail is well maintained and there is a steady uphill climb for about a half-mile.

From that point afterwards, you will quickly climb in elevation through a series of switchbacks. If you are hiking during the day, this part is in full sun so wear sunscreen and bring adequate water supply.

Read More: 10 Amazing Hikes In Arches National Park

Angels Landing from the base - The Mandagies

Angels Landing from the base - The Mandagies

Angels Landing switchbacks - The Mandagies
Taken on the descent. During the day and going up, this trail is in full sun.

Angels Landing switchbacks - The Mandagies
Taken on our descent.

Refrigerator Canyon

After a while hiking in the exposed, sunny canyon, you will have some temporary relief through this part of the trail called Refrigerator Canyon.

It gets its name because this section is covered in shade year-round. It certainly makes for a nice break on a hot summer day! Here, you can easily see the layers of rock that make up the canyon walls.

Click here to explore an infographic made by the National Park Service with all the rock layers and their names!

Read More: 10 Necessary Hiking Essentials You Need To Be Packing

Angels Landing Refrigerator Canyon- The Mandagies
Taken on the descent.

Angels Landing Refrigerator Canyon - The Mandagies

 

Walter’s Wiggles

Once you’ve had a nice walk through Refrigerator Canyon, the real work begins. A set of 21 short and steep switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles lay in front of you for a nice challenge.

Berty and I just put our heads down and took it one step at a time! These particular switchbacks seem to go by fast because you gain so much elevation in such a short amount of time.

Read More Hiking Suggestions: 20 Energizing Hikes In The Pacific Northwest

Angels Landing Walter's Wiggles - The Mandagies
Taken on the descent – going DOWN Walter’s Wiggles

Angels Landing Watler's Wiggles- The Mandagies

Scout’s Landing

After you conquer Walter’s Wiggles, you’ve made it!

Just kidding.

Though, Scout’s Landing IS a common turnaround point for most hikers. Lots of people see the half-mile ridge that lies in front of them and decides that what they’ve achieved is enough. And that’s perfectly okay! If you dare to go all the way, you can continue onward to Angels Landing.

Beware of weather conditions before you embark on this last half-mile. Snow and ice are an immediate danger, but rain can also cause the trail to be slippery too.

Thunder and lighting are very likely to strike on the ridge, so if you see signs of bad weather, consider re-scheduling your hike for a nicer day.

Discover Another Epic Hike: Mt. Storm King – Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Angels Landing Scout's Landing - The Mandagies

Trail On The Ridge Of Angels Landing

This part of the trail is commonly referred to as the Hog’s Back.

To reach the end to Angels Landing, you must climb up and over to the top of this narrow ridge with the help of several chains installed to help you keep your balance.

This is the part that spooks most hikers – on exposed parts of the ridge there are 1000-foot drops on either side.

Heavy usage makes it an incredibly intimidating trail to do on a busy day. Two-way trail traffic means someone has to let go of the chains to let others pass – which we absolutely do not suggest.

We recommend coming early in the morning during the summer or anytime in the spring or fall months to avoid large trail crowds. We experienced lots of people on the trail who were impatient to get to the end.

Angels Landing isn’t the kind of trail to push and shove, especially because of its extremely high danger risk.

Read More Utah Adventures: Capitol Reef National Park

Angels Landing Ridge - The Mandagies

Angels Landing Ridge - The Mandagies
Photo taken from the TOP, showing the ridge you’ll need to climb

Angels Landing Hikers On Ridge - The Mandagies
Same photo as above – taken on the way DOWN from the top of Angels Landing

View From The Top

After an hour of white knuckles and shaky knees, you will be rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in the world. (No wonder it made it on our Top 10 American Southwest Icons list!)

Berty and I love doing hikes with amazing scenery, (see our gorgeous sunset hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona) and this one is definitely one of the most beautiful in our books!

You will be able to see all the way down the canyon, with views including (Mountain Of The Sun, the Great White Throne, and The Spearhead)

Read More: Hike Delicate Arch During Sunrise (Beat The Crowds!)

Angels Landing View - The Mandagies

Angels Landing View - The Mandagies

 

So, was Angels Landing worth it?

Yes!

While the destination is enticing in itself, the thrill is part of the experience too!

I, Emily, came into this trail pretty nervous of heights, but the chains in place helped ease that fear, as well as watching the steady footsteps of hikers in front of me.

You will be glad you checked this amazing hike off your bucket list when visiting Zion National Park! Now, go reward yourself with a delicious and easy camping meal as a reward for a hike well conquered.

Read More: The Complete Guide To All 5 Utah National Parks

 

Have you ever hiked Angels Landing? What was your experience like? Write to us in the comments below so we can read your story!

 

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Want more ideas for the Utah National Parks? Follow our Southwest Road Trip Board on Pinterest for more adventure inspiration!

 

One thought on “Conquering Zion’s Dangerous Angels Landing Hike

  1. I loved your post!! I just got back from zion and bryce canyon and I’m SO glad I did angels landing 🙂 we didn’t end up doing observation point which I was a little bummed about. But we also did watchman, hidden canyon, and canyon overlook before heading to bryce!

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