Your Ultimate Guide to the Angels Landing Hike in Zion National Park
The Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park is one of the MOST ICONIC hikes in Zion, and the entire United States in my opinion. It’s a true classic in every way. The views are absolutely unmatched and the trail will challenge you both physically and mentally the whole way up.
You might be reading this post because you are scared or nervous at attempting the Angel’s Landing Trail for the firs time, and I totally get that. Even as an avid hiker and rock climber, I still got butterflies the first time I went to go hike this trail. It’s hard not to, with all the wide angle photos out there that make the already narrow trail look even more narrow. The first time I went, I had no idea what to expect, and then you hear about how people have died on the trail, and the fear-talker kicks in trying to talk you out of the hike before you’ve even made it to Zion. I’m hoping to help you kick that fear-talker to the curb though. I’ll answer all your questions about this trail, and hopefully by the end of my Angels Landing trail guide you will feel well-prepared and equipped to take on this beautifully epic challenge in Zion National Park. It’s a classic for a reason, despite its crowds, it’s a must-do for any adventurous hiking soul.
The guide below goes into great depth on everything you need to know logistically (& mentally) about hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park, plus some Angels Landing photos and turn-by-turn directions of the trail and what to expect along the way. If you are looking for additional resources on hiking trails near Zion National Park, be sure to check out my post on hiking Kanarra Falls, a beautiful short waterfall-canyon hike that is great for the family and less crowded than the hikes in Zion National Park.
Let’s begin, shall we?
ANGELS LANDING HIKE History + What we will cover in this guide
If you aren’t familiar with Angels Landing or Zion National Park, I’ll start with a very brief history. For starters, Zion National Park was Utah’s very first National Park, officially designated in 1909. In 1916 a man name Frederick fIsher discovered the thin, red mesa that is now known as Angels Landing and remarked that, “Angels Landing is so high, that only an angel could land on it,” and so it got its name. However, despite it’s height, Angels Landing is not the highest point in Zion Canyon, Observation Point stands even taller at 6,521 total feet.
The infamous switchbacks leading up the trail were developed in 1924 and are known as Walters Wiggles, named after Walter Ruesh, Zion National Parks first superintendent. There are 21 total switchbacks along Walters Wiggles trail and they were constructed with natural and native materials so that it would blend in with the beautiful Zion landscape and scenery. Also, be on the lookout for any old horshoe prints along the Angels Landing trail, hikers used to also share this trail with horses.
In the guide below I will go over:
Hiking Details for the Angel’s Landing Trail
Where is Angels Landing, and How do I get to the Angels Landing Trailhead?
When to hike Angels Landing + Best time of the year to visit
Angels Landing Map + Angels Landing Elevation Profile
What to Bring on Your Hike to Angels Landing
Turn-by-Turn Directions for Hiking Angels Landing Trail
Q&A - Common Angels Landing Hike Questions & Concerns
And in the Q&A I’ll be sure to address questions like, who should (and shouldn’t hike) the Angels Landing Trail in Utah, how dangerous is Angels Landing, what’s the scariest part of Angels Landing hike, and more! So stick around to the bottom to get any of your last final questions answered.
Plus, be sure to check out the bottom of this post to find more hiking trail guides and other additional hiking, camping and backpacking resources!
Hiking Details for the angel’s landing trail
Whenever I’m gearing up for a hike and doing research on a trail, I like to know the quick information right of the bat, like how tall is my hiking objective, what is the trailhead name, how many miles is the trail? So that’s why I like to lead off with this section. In just a short few bullet points, you’ll get a high-level overview of what to expect on your Angels Landing hike.
How Tall is Angels Landing? The Angels Landing Elevation is 5,790 feet
Name of Trail to hike to Angels Landing: this ones easy, it’s the Angels Landing Trail
Type of Trail: Out and Back
How long is Angels Landing hike? Total hiking mileages is about 5 miles round trip
Total Elevation Gain? ~1,800 feet total elevation gain
Trailhead Name? The Grotto Trailhead - Zion Canyon
Angels Landing Crowds: High! The crowds can really be a problem on this hike, especially if you are afraid of heights, you might not like having to share the trail with so many people. If you want to try to avoid the crowds, be at the park as early as possible and hit the trails before the crowds arrive, and also try to avoid peak season.
How long does it take to hike Angels Landing? 4-5 hours, depending on your physical fitness
How hard is Angels Landing? This hike is difficult! This hike ascends about 1,800 feet in 2.5 miles, and its uphill the whole way. If you do this hike in the summer, you add in the fact that its very, VERY hot, which will slow you down (and can be very dangerous actually if you aren’t accustomed to hiking in the heat), and this hike definitely has a “Fear-Factor” to it, since the trail gets very narrow towards the top. All of these aspects combined can make for a difficult hike, particularly if you don’t hike very often.
Is a permit required to hike Angels Landing? No! At the time of this writing, there are no permits required to do this hike, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed due to the popularity of the hike, so always be sure to double check with the National Park Website. You will have to pay a recreational use fee to get inside Zion National Park in general, but that is typical of most all US National Parks.
Is there water available along the Angels Landing Trail? There is water and restrooms at the Grotto (where you will the bus will drop you off for the trailhead). Make sure to fill up with water there if you don’t already have enough, because there wont’ be any other opportunities along the hike. I suggest bringing at least 3 liters of water with you on the hike, ESPECIALLY if you are doing this in the summer. The uphill and the heat are no joke, and there’s no point in risking it. Definitely make sure you have a backpack though, you will want to be handsfree when you hike up the Angels Landing chains and narrow portions of the trail.
Is this hike dog friendly? Unfortunately, there are no dogs allowed on the trails in Zion National Park, and besides, you wouldn’t want to bring a dog on this hike anyways since it is so narrow. Leave the pups at home for this one, or find a local dog-sitter in the Zion Area.
Is Angels Landing kid friendly? I definitely wouldn’t bring young kids on this hike, there are high consequences on the trail if you were to trip or make a mis-step. In the end, you’ll have to be the judge of whether or not this hike is safe enough for your kids.
PRO TIP! The best tip I can give you for this hike is to go early. Get to the trailhead as early as possible to avoid the crowds and to avoid the heat.
Where is Angels Landing?
By now you likely know that Angels Landing is located in Zion National Park in Utah, and is one of the Parks most cherished and popular hikes. Another awesome thing is that Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day every day of the year! However, be sure to check conditions in the park because during some seasons (like Winter) different services or facilities may be closed or have reduced hours of operation.
Click on the map below to go to an interactive google map of the park and bus stops.
Parking for Zion National Park:
There is a big parking lot located at the Zion National Park South Entrance and Visitor Center area, but it will fill up very fast during the most popular times of the year. If you really want to park at the main parking area, be prepared to get there early.
Alternatively, you can park anywhere in the town of Springdale and catch one of the (free) town shuttles into the park entrance. The town shuttle picks up around every 5-10 minutes at various stops in Springdale.
Getting around Zion National Park & the Shuttle Bus System in Zion National Park:
During the most popular parts of the year for tourism in Zion National Park, there is a shuttle bus system that takes visitors from the South Entrance Visitor Center throughout the heart of the park. The shuttle busses arrive at every stop every 7-10 minutes. However, the bus system is typically shut down in the offseason and at that point you may drive your car around the park. Check the NPS site for more details for your particular date.
Note: When the bus IS operating, there are no private vehicles allowed on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and you will only be allowed to enter the park via the shuttle bus.
How do I get to the Angels Landing Trailhead?
During most of the year in Zion, you’ll likely take Zion’s shuttle bus into the park to get to the trailhead. To be clear, the bus stop you’ll want to get off at for the Angels Landing hike is “The Grotto” bus stop, marked on the map above (and Zion National Parks Map at the time of this writing) as bus stop number 6. There are several other bus stops along the way, and they are as follows:
Visitor Center Bus Loading at South Entrance of Park
Zion Human History Museum
Court of the Patriarchs
Zion National Park Lodge
The Grotto (This is where you’ll get off for Angels Landing)
Big Bend Viewpoint
Temple of Sinawava (The Narrows hike starts here!)
For more Zion National Parks, click here.
When to hike Angels Landing
Weather wise, the best time of the year to visit Zion National Park and hike Angels Landing would be in the spring months (March to Mid-May) or the fall months (mid-September to November). These months are also less crowded than the summer months. However, as long as there is no ice or snow on the trail, you could hike Angels Landing year-round.
If you’re hiking in the summer:
Go early in the day! This trail is in the sun for a large part of the day and can get very, very hot in the summer months, but also, you’ll find less crowds on the trail (ironically) earlier in the day as well. If I were you, I’d go as early as possible. I’d be on the first bus to Angels Landing in the morning. Put Angels Landing as your first hike of the day, and then enjoy other hikes (like the Narrows) later in the day since you can walk through the water and be more shaded.
Bring PLENTY of water. It’s an uphill battle, and in the heat, you’ll need lots of water.
Bring plenty of sun protection.
Is Angels Landing open in the Winter?
Short answer, yes, but this trail can be very dangerous if there is snow or ice on the trail. Don’t plan to do this hike if the conditions are bad. If in doubt, check with the Zion Park staff.
It’s also best to avoid this trail if there has been rain, for similar reasons to avoiding it in the wintertime.
Be sure to call the ranger station before heading out on your trip to get weather and snow updates.
Angels Landing trail map
The trail up to the top of Angels Landing is pretty straight forward to follow, take a look at trailhead maps, but you should be OK without having a GPS or trail map.
Below is a map of the Angels Landing trail starting from the Grotto Trailhead. If you click on the image below (or click here) you will be taken to an interactive map that you can further explore.
Alternatively, you could hike the Angels Landing via the West Rim Trail for a longer day-hike or backpacking trip.
Below is a look at Angels Landing elevation profile:
What to Bring on Your Hike to Angels Landing
Below I have listed some of the most important items to bring with you on your day-hike up Angels Landing. However, always be sure to check the weather and pack appropriately!
*Please note that some of the below links and in this post are affiliate links.
Here’s what I recommend having with you on your hike up Angels Landing.
1) A Day Pack like Deuter’s Speed Lite Backpacks: A small backpack on the Angels Landing hike is absolutely crucial! For the cables you’ll want to be hands free so you can hold on to any of the railings and chains available. My personal new favorite day pack is Deuters Speed Lite 28L backpack. You honestly can’t go wrong with anything from Deuter.
2) Plenty of Water! Pack in a Nalgene or Camelbak: Water, particularly in the summer months, will be another crucial thing to bring with you on your Angels Landing hike. Personally, since you need to bring a backpack with you, I’d just pack a Camelbak as well so I could remain more or less hands-free the whole time. You could also pack a water bottle, but you’ll have to be careful where you stop to take sips along the trail.
3) Food and Snacks: The Angels Landing hike is pretty strenuous, so it's smart to bring snacks for the hike up and also something to enjoy the views while at the top. I like to pack cliff bars, complete cookies, and lara bars for quick snacks.
4) Grippy Shoes like Five Ten’s Guide Tenie Approach Shoes: It is useful to bring good, grippy shoes on this hike so that your footing feels more confident on the trail. Our favorite grippy hiking shoes are the Five Ten Guide Tenies.
5) Sunglasses like Goodr Sunglasses: My favorite pair for day hikes are Goodr Sunglasses. They come in a bunch of great color options and the best part... they are only $25! I love this particular brand not only for its affordability (let's be honest... we all lose sunglasses), but also because they are some of the only sunglasses I've found that will stay on my nose and not slide down when I get active and start sweating.
6) Sunscreen & Lipbalm: This should be a no-brainer, but always wear and bring sunscreen for a hike. I really like Neutrogena brand. Just like sunscreen, it is also important to bring lip balm that has sunscreen in it on your hike. My favorite lip balm is the Joshua Tree brand.
7) Camera: Don't forget to pack a camera or a phone to capture your hike! You can read our post on the Outdoor Adventure Photography Gear we use if you want details on the cameras we recommend for outdoor photography, but also you can't go wrong these days with your phone camera either. Your choice!
Also be sure to pack appropriate layers according to the weather! There are other smaller items I typically bring with me on a day hike, which aren’t necessarily mandatory for the Angels Landing hike (especially because this hike is so popular, you are not very likely to be alone on this trail), but if you’d like a more detailed description of the gear I recommend for a day hike, be sure to check out my Essential Hiking Gear List.
You can also download my hiking gear checklist below for easy reference:
Turn-by-Turn Directions for Hiking Angels Landing Trail
So if you still aren’t sure if you’re ready or not to hike the Angels Landing Trail, let me give you a little turn-by-turn taste of what to expect on your upcoming hike.
In Summary, here are the key hiking landmarks along the Angels Landing Trail:
The Grotto Trailhead (Angels Landing Trailhead)
Refrigerator Canyon (shaded year round)
Walters Wiggles (21 steep switchbacks)
Scouts Lookout (many people turn around here)
Angels Landing Spine & the Angels Landing Chains (this is where things get spicy!)
The top of Angels Landing! (your ultimate goal and best views in the park!)
Assuming you take the bus into the heart of Zion National Park, you’ll watch for stop number 6 (otherwise known as “The Grotto”) in order to get to the Angels Landing Trailhead. The Grotto area is a great place to get any final bathroom breaks out of the way and to fill up on water if you need to.
You’ll cross the street to find the trailhead for the Angels Landing hike and you’ll begin with a nice and easy gradual ascent of the trail. Don’t be fooled though, it will get steeper!
This beginning part of the trail is very well-maintained and pretty wide in comparison to the top of the Angels Landing trail. You’ll eventually hit a series of longer switchbacks that lead you to an area known as Refrigerator Canyon.
When you enter into Refrigerator Canyon you’ll get a short rest from the steep uphill switchbacks and you’ll also get a short break from the heat. This area of the hike got its name because it is shade and protected from the sun year-round.
The hiking here is easier, so if you need a moment to rest and regroup, its a great place to do so.
After your leisurely stroll through Refrigerator Canyon, you will eventually hit what is known as Walters Wiggles. These “wiggles” are a series of 21 steep uphill switchbacks. If you recall from the beginning of this post, these switchbacks were named Walters Wiggles after Walter Ruesh, Zion National Parks first superintendent, when this trail was built back in 1924.
The best advice I can give for this section of the trail is to just put your head down and pace yourself towards the top. If you need to break the switchbacks up, set some smaller goals and take some mini breaks along the way up. Most importantly, just listen to your body and keep moving forward.
Once you finally reach the top of Walters Wiggles (don’t you just love that name?), you’ll reach another milestone on the Angels Landing Trail known as Scouts Lookout. A lot of people stop their hike here and turn around, and if you are uncertain about continuing on to the top of Angels Landing, it is still an amazing hike to make it to Scouts Lookout!
When you reach Scouts Lookout you’ll find a lot of people resting from the Wiggles and assessing their next move. Should I do it? Should I continue on?
You’ll see some parties break into separate groups, those that stay, and those that go.
You’ll hear a lot of conversations about how scary it looks, how nervous people are, and how intimidating the trail is.
You’ll probably start second guessing yourself and your abilities.
You’ll probably wonder why you’re even doing this stupid hike in the first place.
But none of that matters. The only thing that matter is… will you continue on?
And if your answer is yes, you’re in for what I think is the best and most exciting part about the Angels Landing Zion hike.
angels landing spine
If your answer is yes, this is where the fun begins.
The rest of the Angels Landing hike will test your mental strength, and your path will become more and more narrow, and eventually it will become very steep.
Keep believing in yourself though, because it’s totally worth it! Make use of all the tools you have at hand, like good strong sturdy hiking legs, and hands that can grip onto the chains that are there. Make sure to take deep breaths and pace yourself, and most importantly, try to enjoy the moment and excitement of it all!
You won’t be alone on your journey to the top, you’ll be in good company. So if at any point you’re feeling scared, let your buddy know, help each other out.
Just be cautious, mind your steps, and hold on to the chains. You’ll have to navigate some two-way traffic along the Angels Landing spine (those hiking up the spine and versus those hiking down the spine from Angels Landing), just always keep at least one hand on the chains at all times. Maintain your three points of contact, and never do anything that makes you feel overly uncomfortable.
the top of angels landing
Then once you make it to the top, enjoy those sweet, beautiful Zion National Park views… you’ve freaking earned it.
360 degrees of National Park beauty. Take as many photos as your heart wants, but then be sure to take time to really soak it all in (without the phone).
Con-freaking-gradulations. You are a badass!
Can you feel it already?
Time to hike the Angels Landing trail my friend. You’ve got this.
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Q&A - Common Angels Landing Hike Questions & Concerns
1) Who shouldn’t hike the Angels Landing Trail? I wouldn’t take kids on this hike, and if you have a confident and fearless teenager you will have to make that call yourself as to their capability on terrain like this. You could certainly hike up to Scouts Landing and then decide once you see the remainder of the trail. Also, if you are deathly afraid of heights, you should probably avoid this trail as well. This trail should really only be hiked by those who are feeling up to the challenge (mentally) and who are physically able.
2) How dangerous is Angels Landing? Drop-offs along the narrowest portion of the trail range from 800 to 1000 feet tall, so if you fell, that would be deadly. However, the park has done a fantastic job at make a narrow trail feel very safe. Thousands of people do this hike every year.
3) What’s the scariest part of Angels Landing? To me, the scariest part about Angels Landing isn’t the 1000 foot drop offs on either side of the trail, its the fact that you have to share the trail with hundreds of other hikers. Its a very popular hike, and you’ll be sharing it with all kinds of people. So if you want to avoid having as many crowds, go early and try to visit in the off-season. Otherwise, the trail is pretty well protected along the way, and there are chains along the hike to help keep you stable.
4) What is a common Angels Landing hike time? Most people hike the trail in 4-5 hours depending on their level of physical fitness.
5) What are the Angels Landing chains? Towards the very top of the trail where it gets steep and narrow (after Scout’s Lookout) there are chains along the trail that will help you make your way to the top. The chains are there to help you keep stable and feel more confident on your way to the top of Angels Landing.
6) How narrow is Angels Landing? The narrowest portion of the trail is only a few feet wide, but don’t worry, there are plenty of guard rails to hold on to. Remember to always maintain at least 3 points of contact on the narrow parts of the trail, go slowly if you feel unsteady, and breathe!
7) How high is Angels Landing? The top of Angels landing is at 5,790 feet in elevation, a little over 1000 feet from the Zion Valley floor from the top.
8) How many people have died on Angels Landing? According to the Zion NPS website FAQs, there have been 8 recorded Angels Landing deaths since 2004. Also consider the fact that nearly 4.5 million people visit Zion National Park every year.
Final Angels Hike Safety Advice:
Wear good grippy hiking shoes
Take a backpack so you can be handsfree
Hike earlier in the day to avoid crowds and avoid the heat
Bring plenty of water
Go slowly if you feel scared
Don’t hike if there is snow, ice, or has been recent or frequent rains, and don’t hike the trail if there is a chance of thunderstorms.
Believe that your success on this trail is inevitable! Just Keep taking it one step at a time!
I hope you have a chance to hike this exhilarating, beautiful trail, and get to experience some of the best views Zion has to offer!
If you are looking for more Utah and hiking inspiration, check out our other resources below!
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Also be sure to check out these essential hiking resources!
Allison - She Dreams of Alpine