I grew up about an hour from Zion National Park and as one of the most iconic hikes in Zion, Angels Landing is at the top of the list when visitors are in town. Even as a regular hiker and rock climber, Angels Landing is a mental and physical challenge for me each time I summit.
About Angels Landing
In Zion National Park there is a main canyon that visitors access by taking a free shuttle from the visitors center. For the Angels Landing Trail, visitors will exit the shuttle at The Grotto stop and walk across the street to the trail head where they take a bridge across the Virgin River. Angels Landing is an out and back hike that is rated strenuous with an elevation gain of 1,488 ft. Round trip, the hike is 5.4 mi and takes and average hiker about 4 hours to complete.
Angels Landing is essentially broken up into two parts. The first part is a well beaten, mostly paved, switch back hike to Scouts Lookout where visitors find a nice view and bathrooms. The second part of the hike is about 0.5 mi to the peak where visitors follow a ridge line with nearly 1500 ft drop-offs on either side. This part of the hike is mentally challenging and thrilling. There are chains installed that visitors use as handrails, and there are sections of the hike that can be as narrow as 3 ft with 1000 ft drop-offs on either side.
Angels Landing is very popular, so there can be a bit of a bottleneck with the chain portion of the hike. Shuttles will take visitors as early as 6am, so if you are hoping to avoid crowds, an early start would be your best bet.
My latest experience hiking Angels Landing
I visited Zion and hiked Angels Landing in August 2021. I was nervous as I had not been to the top of Angels Landing in several years and heard the crowds made the chain portion of the hike more of a challenge as you are navigating around others. While this did prove to be true, I did not find it any more challenging than any other summit.
For me, the switchbacks and elevation gain is a cardio challenge. I am a strong hiker and I wanted to move through the uphill potion of this hike at a quick pace to avoid the afternoon heat at the sun exposed peak. As an added challenge, I like to try to jog up the narrow switchbacks called Walters Wiggles. These switchbacks are just before you get to the chained ridge line. While this is a fun challenge, it did take me some time to catch my breath, and when we started up the chains, the added adrenaline of the height had my heart racing!
We were able to get to the peak of the hike in about 1.5 hours, the view is incredible and there is plenty of space at the top to relax, take in the view and have a snack. Angels Landing is a sensational hike where the mental challenge may outweigh the physical. This hike may not be for everyone, but it is certainly memorable for all who have been!