Iconic Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park is famous not only for its outstanding scenery but also for its difficulty level. And we are not talking about just technical difficulty, but also how challenging it is for your mind, especially if you are afraid of heights. To make it more visual – according to the legend, in 1916, one of the explorers to the region, Frederick Fisher, made a remark that “only an angel could land on it.” Do you have what it takes to become an angel? Find your answer in this post, where you will learn all you need to know about hiking Angels Landing.
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Angels Landing – an Epic Hike in Zion National Park, Utah
To make things clear, I do not like hiking that much. Yes, I hiked a lot but not really for the experience itself. When I hit the trail, I am not doing it just to sweat. I am usually looking for extraordinary views as an award for my effort.
Zion National Park certainly meets my requirements for spectacular hiking. It offers two world-famous hikes, the Narrows and Angels Landing. These two could not be more opposite. The Narrows trail leads you through the bottom of the canyon, while Angels Landing takes you up into the sky.
Here is another confession, I am afraid of heights. Still, I did not let this fear stop me from climbing the trail. I knew the views would be spectacular, so for that, I was willing to push myself out of the comfort zone. I also wanted something to brag about for years to come.
Before you arrive at Zion National Park
Check the park’s website for the latest updates.
Before visiting Zion, or any other popular national parks, always start with checking the park’s website. In many parks, new rules are being introduced to address overcrowding, current road or water conditions, etc.
Do not just show up hoping for the best! Make sure that the trail is open before your visit. It is documented that the trail could be temporarily closed due to the fallen chunks of rock or icy conditions.
Also, keep in mind that you will not be able to drive freely in Zion National Park for the most part of the year, including popular weekends in the winter seasons.
The park operates a shuttle to control a number of people and cars. Private vehicles are not allowed to enter the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during those times. Check the latest updates on Zion shuttle here.
Consider Visiting off Season for lesser crows and more flexibility.
Angel Landing trail is open year-round, but the peak season is from April to October. The winter, early spring, and late autumn will guarantee smaller crowds, but ice and snow on the trail could make hiking unsafe.
The Zion Park shuttle does not operate during winter, except for a few popular dates on long weekends. And this is good for visitors! At those times, they are allowed to drive into Zion Canyon and park their cars at convenient parking areas near popular attractions.
During the summer months, on the other hand, no cars are allowed in the canyon. The shuttle is a must then. Additionally, the trail often gets very crowded. It is also very hot as the path is fully exposed to the sun.
Reserve your Hotel at Zion National Park well in advance
Zion is the 4th most popular national park in the USA; therefore, hotel rooms are in high demand. Make sure to make your reservations well in advance.
Recommended Hotels in Zion National Park
Zion Lodge is the only in-park accommodation, so make sure to reserve months ahead! The lodge offers easy access to excellent hiking and other outdoor opportunities. The original lodge burned down in 1966, but the rebuilt structure recreated the old inn’s classic look.
Zion Mountain Ranch
You will find plenty of great places to stay when visiting Zion National Park, but if you are looking for a unique western experience, I recommend Zion Mountain Ranch. The ranch delivers upscale accommodation and spectacular distance views of Zion. View more Mount Carmel Junction hotels here.
Holiday Inn Springdale
Another accommodation worth mentioning is Holliday Inn Express Springdale Zion National Park Area. The hotel is ideally situated just outside of Zion National Park and is tucked among Zion Canyon’s towering red rock cliffs. I loved the outside area with incredible views of the mountains.
Buy your shuttle tickets in advance!
Make sure to buy your shuttle tickets if you will be visiting at times that shuttle operates to assure access to the trail. Try to get it for the first shuttle in the morning to avoid crowds.
Is Angels Landing hike for you?
Angels Landing Hike Deaths
People often asked how many hikers died when climbing Angels Landing. The truth is that there is no agreement on that. You can find different numbers at different sources. The total numbers range from 9 to 17. Whatever the number is, there is no doubt that Angels Landing could be deadly if you are not careful.
Physical Condition Required to Hike Angels Landing
For the most part, the trail is steep but wide and well maintained, but it gets very narrow and even stepper at the last section. For that part alone, you need to be in a decent physical shape.
The last stretch is truly a full-body workout. Chains are there not only to keep you from falling down. You need them to pull yourself up on steep, slippery rocks. Make sure to have your hands free for that!
Angels Landing is mentally challenging.
What makes Angles Landing stand apart from other trails is that it can be mentally challenging due to its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. The chain part is definitely not for everyone.
People who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt the trail’s final stretch. I made it without a panic attack, so I guess my acrophobia is on the milder side. Still, the last half a mile was challenging physically and mentally.
It is crucial to start hiking early to avoid overcrowding on the top. From the group I hiked with, two people did not complete the last part of the trail due to the fear of being pushed over, even though they were not particularly afraid of highths.
How to prepare for Angels Landing hike
Bring a lot of water.
Angels Landing takes on average five hours round trip, and it is a strenuous hike, so make sure you stay hydrated.
Wear proper hiking shoes
Parts of the trail can be treacherous and slippery, even in fair weather. Wear proper shoes!
Wear long pants and long sleeves
You will be scrambling the rocks, so you need to protect your skin from scratches or even bleeding.
Wear a hat
The trail is exposed to the sun. Protect your face and head with a sunhat!
Bring layered clothing
It is always a good idea to wear layers when hiking. This way, you can adjust to changing conditions.
Remember, the hike takes a few hours. You will need to get refueled.
Keep your hands free.
Carry a backpack to keep your hands free. You will need them to climb the rocks and to pull yourself up.
Bring your camera
The trail offers fantastic views, so make sure to capture them, but remember – safety first!
Angels Landing Hike – basic facts
Strenuous; steep with exposure to long drop-offs.
5 miles (round trip)
How much time you need for hiking Angels Landing
It takes 3 to 6 hours to hike the trail completely. I recommend six, not only to take frequent breaks but primarily to enjoy the scenery and take pictures.
Description of Angels Landing Hike
Angels Landing hike’s start location – Grotto Trailhead
Between April 1st and October 31st, Zion National Park can only be accessed by the shuttle. To reach the trail, you need to park at Zion Canyon Visitor Center and take a shuttle and get off at the Grotto shuttle stop. The trail starts at the Grotto picnic area. During the rest of the year, you can park at the Grotto.
Walter’s Wiggles is a series of 21 switchbacks that quickly rises to the top of the ridge at Scout Lookout. You can look back from there to see the trail you just climbed and enjoy beautiful views.
Hogsback – the ultimate challenge
This is the most difficult section of the trail that requires using the chains bolted into the stone to keep you from sliding over the edge of the cliff.
What you see in the picture below truly scared me. I am still putting myself on the back for not freaking out there. The trail drops 1200 feet on one side and 800 feet on the other side! I paused there and asked myself if I should continue or turn back.
Angels Landing at the summit.
At the summit, you can celebrate your achievement and take photos to prove it. But do not congregate there too long, you still need to go down, and the crowds will be getting thicker.
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