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Angels Landing, Zion


Trail Length: 5.4 miles round trip

Trail Description: First mile and a half is paved and steep. Once the trail becomes 'Angels Landing,' it is on sandstone.

Overview: Angels Landing is probably the most famous trail within Zion National Park. It's 1448 feet of elevation has excitement, and peril for all. The end provides stunning views of the main canyon while the views along the way are spectacular as well. The hike is generally safe but feels very scary for most. It does claim people every year though, so do be cautious. Most die due to falling while doing something they shouldn't, with an occasional individual claimed by the elements.

This trail is permitted now through much of the year. If you want to do this hike now, you need to plan ahead during the permitted months.

Getting Here

The trail begins at the Grotto bus stop in Zion National Park. Take the shuttle up to this point. If you plan on being here for sunset, rid a bike up or put one on the shuttle and chain it up at the bottom. If you watch the sunset from up here, you will miss the bus.

Trail Description

The trail begins at the Grotto bus stop. This is a good spot to use a bathroom because the ones at scouts landing go in and out of service. There are no good places to use the bathroom on this hike once you begin.

The trail crosses the river and then follows it for a ways before it begins climbing up the cliff face. Once the trail begins its switchbacks, it becomes more strenuous. The first bit of switchbacks are up a large arid slope, then the trail begins to cut across the cliff face. Here the trail becomes a bit more dangerous, so please be curious. Near the top of this section, the trail becomes very steep, though the views are spectacular.

Soon after escalating the large set of switch backs the trail crosses a little bridge and heads back into a canyon (this is refrigerator canyon). This is your moment or wrest as the trail then climbs up more from here. If you are lucky you may see the signs for Mexican Spotted Owls right here. To hear them be here late in the evening while they are nesting. They make a wonderful hooting sound.

As you reach the end of Refrigerator canyon the trail begins to climb once again up what are probably the most famous section of the lower trail, Walters Wiggles. Walters Wiggles are a series of 21 switchbacks that rapidly climb up the cliff face towards Scouts Landing. In the winter these are usually completely iced over making it a very scary experience to navigate. At the top of Walters Wiggles is scouts landing. This is a point that provides excellent views of Big Bend, and your first real look at the trail ahead of you, Angels Landing. If you are too afraid of heights or are already too unsettled by heights this is as far as you should go.

From scouts landing the trail either climbs towards the West Rim or towards Angels Landing. Take the path towards Angel's Landing. The trail suddenly changed dramatically and begins to become steep and now entirely on slick rock. Here the chain section of the trail begins and the single-file hiking begins. Follow the chains up towards angels landing and across the major choke point. This choke point is a section of trail that is about 3 feet wide with 1400-foot cliffs on either side of you. There is a chain, but many people get to this point and bail.

From this point follow the trail upwards and onwards until you reach a kind of obvious end. The trial kind of pitters out and you should see people hanging out and just relaxing. Take some time to take it in at this point. If you are lucky look out for the California Condors that regularly cruise these cliffs.

Nathan's Take

I like this hike and it should be done at least once in your life. It is hard and I have seen a few very stupid things on this hike. I have seen so many teenagers hike this with no water and have watched them come off the top of the mountain almost looking crippled and dead. Don't be these people. If you want a few cool ways to experience this hike, do it under a full moon, do it during the winter or do it at sunset. The hike back in the dark is kind of a fun experience.

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