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.
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!
On our most recent trip to Zion National Park, 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!
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!
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.
Important Note: Hiking in the winter months takes a little more preparation! Check out what’s available to do in Zion National Park in the winter, and make sure to pack microspikes and warm layers!
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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!
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.
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After you conquer Walter’s Wiggles, you’ve made it!
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.
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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.
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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!
So, was Angels Landing worth it?
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.
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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