If you want to do something thrilling, we recommend an Angel’s Landing hike at Zion National Park. This world-famous trail is for adventurous souls who don’t fear heights and enjoy a challenging strenuous climb. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
Before embarking on the journey to climb this mountain, we saw YouTube videos of the dangerous terrain. Despite re-thinking this hike because it seemed nerve-racking, we decided to take the challenge. Let me say, some of those YouTube videos make it seem worse than it really is.
The Angel’s Landing trail is a 5 mile hike that begins at Grotto Trail Head where you begin the West Rim Trail. The average hike time can be anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on fitness level. We hadn’t worked out in a while, so it took us 5 hours to complete.
The First Part of Angel’s Landing Hike
The uphill hike to Angel’s Landing is a well maintained 2 mile trek on the West Rim Trail. Parts of it are very steep and a bit tiring so we made sure to climb it slow and to take many breaks every time we saw shade.
The trail runs along the rim of the mountain in zig-zags. This part is called Walter’s Wiggles. I wonder if it’s because there was once a Walter that got wiggly legs? Anyhow, this part of the trail also has high drop-offs and is quite steep. The path is wide enough for ongoing and oncoming traffic so it won’t be as intimidating.
The path winds all the way up until you get to a little bit of shade within the canyon. When you arrive to the next steep zig-zagged part of the trail at the top, you made it to Scout Lookout where you will have incredible views of Zion. This part of the trail can be reached by almost anyone.
Many families took their kids up to this part of the trail since it’s mildly safe if you keep an eye on them. There are still drop-offs, so be aware of your kid’s every step. People even rested and picnicked among the squirrels and chipmunks and enjoyed the views that also came with safety rails.
This is also the place where undecided hikers decide if they’re going to do the next 1/2 mile trail to Angel’s Landing. This was me and Juan. We first snacked, rested, and then decided to keep going.
First Glance of Angel’s Landing
When you first view the Angel’s Landing trail, you will most likely say “No Way!” At first glance, we saw this mountain with a narrow trail going up with drops on each side. Not sure it’s even a trail we saw. We just noticed people holding on to chains among a slanted rock with drop-offs trying and people trying to pass each other.
We saw the amount of people and how slim the mountain looked and really thought we wouldn’t do it. However, we slowly kept walking and said we’d return if it didn’t feel right.
Angel’s Landing Hike
Not sure which part of the hike is the hardest and scariest, but we think the most frustrating part is the very beginning. At the start of the hike, many people attempt to go up but decide to return because it is not a hike for every one. It’s definitely not the place to overcome the fear of heights.
Testing their limits and knowing when to stop, people decide to turn back. This creates a lot traffic when the hike begins on the slanted rock. Every one is already holding on for dear life onto the chains and when people don’t take turns, it drives you a bit mad.
If you can handle this part, you have survived the frustrating part of the hike. If you return, don’t feel bad! You have to do what’s best for you.
Along the slim trail, there are support chains anchored to the rocks on some sections. We found ourselves climbing the narrow sandstone ridge and holding on to chains. It’s quite strenuous so we kept making stops whenever the space permitted.
We also had to share the chain with people coming down, which was the difficult part. Most groups of people are respectful. The group coming down would wait for the group coming up and vice-versa. This allowed us to be safe while holding on to the chain. However, you will find some people just don’t care and will try to share the chain with you by passing you when there is a 1,500 foot drop next to your feet.
One person offered to hold my hand so I could pass them. I kindly said no and told them I preferred to hug my arms around them so I could have my own grip of the chain. I wasn’t about to trust my life to anyone.
Making it to the top of Angel’s Landing Hike
Making it to the top took about an hour. This was with many rests and water breaks. Before making it, people going down kept telling us we were almost there and that the views were worth it. This pushed us to keep going and we were anxious to reach our goal of making it to the summit.
Once at the top we were left in awe of the magnificent views we had in every direction. All the sweat, the heat, the out of air moments, and the “oh crap, what If I fall?” thoughts were finally over. It was all so worth it! For us, the sense of accomplishment was the most wonderful thing. We couldn’t believe we had just conquered that monster of a mountain.
I was most proud of Juan for facing his fear of heights and proud of what my body was capable of, despite not being too fit. And the views? Like no other! At the top you have a view of both sides of the canyon. The shimmering river and cottonwood trees can be seen down below. All of it is just plain beautiful. You truly feel on top of the world.
When to do Angel’s Landing Hike
If you go during warm months, it is extremely hot! It’s best to go early in the morning although I have to admit, I’ve done the hike after 10AM both times. The weather is nice in the morning and you can be back off the mountain by noon. If you decide to go later, make sure to take many breaks and even more water.
The trail can be unsafe during winter months but some people still visit. The best season is March to October.
Both times I hiked the trail were holiday weekends. Memorial Weekend was ridiculously full. 4th of July was a little less full. We were told that so many people hiked early to avoid the heat that it became difficult to come back down the trail because of human traffic jams on the chains.
Some people stayed at the top for a couple of hours until the crowds started dissipating. Though we started later and suffered a lot of heat, we had the trail mostly to ourselves going up once we passed the beginning part where people turn back.
Once at the landing, we were one of the few who had the whole view to ourselves. It paid off to go later in the day for the holiday season. However, we’re used to the Arizona heat. If you’re not good with heat, go early. Besides summer holidays, if you want to avoid crowds, early morning is best.
How to be safe on your Angel’s Landing Hike
- Avoid the edge as much as you can. The path can be unstable and the drop-offs unsafe.
- Hold on to the chains! They are there for a reason.
- Not for children. You never know how they will behave. One wrong step and…
- Take turns with people coming down. Don’t try to rush past them. Have etiquette and be positive.
- Avoid the trail when there is ice and snow.
- Stop at Scout Lookout if you don’t feel comfortable enough to keep going. Don’t feel pressured and don’t feel like you failed if you don’t complete it. Only you know your limits. But also, don’t let fear get in the way of trying it if you know you are capable.
- If you fear heights, it might not be the best places to hike. But if you do, don’t look down to the sides. Instead focus on the trail in front of you.
- If you have problems that prevent you from doing the hike, skip it. Your health comes first.
- Don’t hold your camera to shoot while walking. Instead, stop somewhere safe and take the picture. Or if you really want video of the trail, put it around your neck. The footage might be unstable, but at least you avoid falling. You can also use a selfie-stick with a Go-Pro and stabilize it on your back pack. But never use your hands to hike and shoot.
What to bring on you Angel’s Landing Hike
- A small to medium backpack. A smaller size will help you feel comfortable as you go up the trail.
- Lots of water! A gallon per person. Don’t worry about the weight, it’s best to stay hydrated.
- Bring snacks or a light lunch to eat when you finish the West Rim Trail at Scout Lookout. You can eat before climbing Angel’s Landing.
- Not many people do this, but the second time I went I took gym gloves. They were lifesavers! The rocks and chains were hot. Plus the chain left my hands really dirty the first time. Not to mention the amount of people touching the chain!
- Good or decent hiking shoes! Make sure they have a good grip. I took my regular Nike’s the first time and they didn’t give me the same support as my semi-hiking shoes. A good grip helps avoid slips. They happen.
- Dress in layers, especially if you hike early.
- Wear a sun protecting hat and glasses.
- Take sunscreen. You’ll need to re-apply since you’ll be walking under the direct rays of the sun.
Check out our Video of the two different hikes with hubs and sister. A bit shaky though!
How to Access Angel’s Landing
The trail access for Angel’s landing is by shuttle throughout the months of April to October. You may park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and wait for a shuttle. The shuttle then takes you to stop 6 for the Grotto Trail Head, where you will begin the West Rim Trail towards Angel’s Landing.
The visitor center can be out of parking spaces and the next best choice is to park in the town of Springdale, where Zion Park is located. There is no need to pay for parking because there is plenty of space along the side of the road where everyone parks.
Once parked, you go to a Springdale Shuttle stop to take the free shuttle that will take you to the park entrance. At the park entrance and visitor center, you will take the Zion National Park shuttle to the Trail.
Our Thoughts on the Angel’s Landing Hike
Honestly, we have no idea how this hike is open to the public! I’m surprised it hasn’t been closed or limited to an amount of people per day. I may be contradicting myself, but I thought the trail wasn’t that bad, yet still think it isn’t safe.
My husband and sister were both afraid of heights and they did great. Did I mention I even saw a girl so afraid she was crying, yet made it to the top? Not sure that’s good though, especially if you’re the type that is likely to faint.
The drops are high and the hike is ridiculously packed with people. I have a feeling it will be closed off to the public one day as all great things usually are. Oddly enough, there are few death casualties compared to amount of people that hike it. The park even gives a warning about the 7 deaths since 2004.
We also think kids shouldn’t do this hike. I wouldn’t even trust a teenager. It’s no place to play around at. One wrong step and it’s over. My feet slipped a few times and there were moments I struggled to climb certain rocks. Short people problems, that is.
Some people will try to scare everyone at the Scout Lookout. They will talk about how scary it was and how they returned. Don’t listen to them. Although it can be scary, don’t let people’s opinions stop you. If you really want to try it and feel capable, start the trail and turn back when you feel uncomfortable.
With that said, the total 5 mile hike is incredible. The feeling of accomplishment is like no other. I would do it again and again. I was personally more tired than afraid the whole time. However, the 360 degree views of the canyon from above are absolutely gorgeous and worth it all. Relaxing at the top at 5,790 feet to take in the panoramic views felt so good.
If you are not afraid of heights, this hike will be super adventurous and fun for you as it was for me. I loved every second of it and the adrenaline felt really good. I didn’t feel fear but did stay on the side of safety by holding on tight to the ropes and playing it safe.
Juan on the other hand didn’t feel it as physically difficult, but he didn’t enjoy the heights and drop-offs nor looking down. He kept his eyes on the trail and enjoyed the view at the end.
Everyone you encounter will feel different about the trail. It all depends on personality. Some love heights, some like rock climbing, and some don’t. Just know your limits and know its a spectacular view at the top!
When you hike back down, you will look back at the mountain and you won’t believe you just hiked that steep dangerous peak!
“It is not the mountain we conquer,
but ourselves.” -Edmund Hillary
Have you ever hiked Angel’s Landing? What did you think of it? Would you do it?! Have you tried the other hikes at Zion National Park? We’d love to hear your experiences.
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