Angels Landing Hike
Utah

Angels Landing hike in Zion – should you do it?

Angels Landing in Zion National Park is probably one of the most iconic hikes you can take in the world. But… also one of the most dangerous. In this article about the Angels Landing hike I tell you about my own experiences on this trail and I give you updates that are necessary to know, since I already walked the trail several years ago and since then it has grown in popularity.
 
This article was first published in 2016 and updated in 2022
 

Permit required!

Please note: from 2022 the Angels Landing hike can only be done with a permit. This is because the trail is too busy and too many accidents happened because of the crowds. The permits are awarded through a lottery. The cost is currently 6 USD for a group of up to six people. There are also options for a ‘day before lottery’. More information and applying for a permit can be found here. Unfortunately, because 2022 will be the first year that this system will be used, I cannot share any experiences about it. Just keep your fingers crossed if you want to walk Angels Landing in 2022!
 

Angels Landing hike permit required
A permit to hike Angels Landing is requirer for 2022
 

From Lonely Planet

“Sure, you get an adrenaline rush conquering your fears while hiking up steep ascents past sheer drop-offs. But this is not Disneyland. The danger is real. Loose stones can be slippery and every year people die from falls off cliffs. Even minor injuries can turn serious when difficult terrain means rescuers are hours away. Just be prepared and pay attention. We can’t believe we have to say this, but flip-flops (thongs) are not appropriate hiking footwear for Angels Landing. And parents, please keep hold of young children. We want you, and your offspring, to be reading our books for years to come.”
 
This is what I read about hiking Angels Landing, my planned hike in Zion National Park, Utah. Doesn’t sound very encouraging, right? It almost sounds like they have been paid by the park officials to write this phrase in their guidebook. In my opinion, with Lonely Planet it always depends on the author how difficult a hike really is. I noticed that in New Zealand I could usually count on the actual described walking times but in Scotland for example, the hikes were far more strenuous and time consuming than described. For my US roadtrip I had no idea how this was going to be like, but figured that since many others can do it and with our experience, I should be able to do Angels Landing without too much trouble.
 
 

Angels Landing or The Narrows?

Zion National Park has two legendary hikes: Angels Landing and The Narrows. So if you only have one day to spend in this park, you should choose unless you are extremely fit and a fast hiker. Since I was also going canyoneering with a guide for half a day, I only had a few hours left to do The Narrows. So I picked Angels Landing instead.
 

Angels Landing hike Zion
Angels Landing hike Zion
 

Angels Landing: my must-do hike!

So the Angels Landing hike became my must-do in Zion National Park. But would it really be as dangerous as Lonely Planet would have me believe? Or was it just a warning to over-enthusiastic and unfit wannabe hikers who wanted to do something out of their comfort zone?
 
On my last day in Zion NP I got up extremely early to catch the first bus to Angels Landing. The sun was just starting to warm up the valley a little and light up the mountain peaks. On the bus I started to worry a bit. I looked up and realized we were going to walk ALL THERE, holding on to chains attached to the red rocks for safety. Anyway, I figured if others can do it, so can I.
 
The first part of the walk to Angels Landing is relatively easy, it’s a brisk walk up but nothing technical. It was wonderful to step up into the shadows of the mountains, only to the sound of birdsong. Not long after the first climb, I arrived at Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 zigzags carved into the rock. Here I finally started to sweat a little and my heart started beating faster.
 
About an hour after I started, I reached Scout Lookout, where they have a restroom and where most turn when they see what’s ahead, the last perpendicular to Angels Landing. Anyone who is afraid of heights would do well to turn around and just enjoy what you have achieved so far.
 

trail post
Trail marker
The final bit up to Angels Landing
The final bit up to Angels Landing
 

Going further up

I went far and slowly but surely climbed up. I forced myself not to look down and hold on tightly to the chains on some stretches. One misstep and I would plunge into the depths. I was glad I started on time, because the trail is only 50 centimeters wide in some parts and so no two people can pass. Imagine having someone in front of you who doesn’t dare go any further, you wouldn’t be the first to get stuck! After about 45 minutes of climbing, I arrived at Angels Landing. Here I had a 360 degree panorama of the Zion Canyon and I decided to sit down and take in the beauty of this national park. However, I didn’t have too much time, below me I saw the hordes of people coming up and since I wanted to drive to Bryce Canyon that day, I quickly decided to go down again.
 

Angels Landing hike Zion National Park
Angels Landing hike Zion National Park
 

Crowds on the Angels Landing hike

Back at Scout Lookout it started to get pretty busy on the track, I was glad to have gotten ahead of the crowd. In about 3.5 hours I was back at the bus stop, a special experience richer. The way back was less difficult than expected, if you do get scared, just sit down and slowly lower yourself onto your buttocks. I’ve done more difficult hikes in the Alps for example, where I had no foothold in any way, so in that respect, this hike is made easier by the presence of chains. Yet it is still the case that every year hikers get into trouble, because they are not well prepared or have overestimated themselves anyway.
 

Angels Landing for those with a fear of heights

Like I said, you should only do this hike if you think you can handle it. If you have enough perseverance and are not afraid of heights and deep chasms, you will undoubtedly love it. Get up early, take the first bus to the start of the hike and enjoy. And don’t forget to get your permit! If you are afraid of heights, don’t do the walk to Angels Landing, I’m sure you’ll regret it, also because more than half of the walk is steep and dangerous. A misstep can have fatal consequences… However, I thought it was absolutely worth it and will gladly walk it again, should I ever get to Zion National Park again.
 
More technical information about the hike to Angels Landing can be found on the Zion National Park website.
 

Angels Landing Hike
Angels Landing Hike
 

Book your trip!

Ready to book your trip? The following links may be useful:
 
– Go here to check flights to the nearest airports. The closest airport is St. George but since you’ll most likely also visit other places, you may drive in from Salt Lake City or Las Vegas as well.
 
– Get a rental car, cheap rates can be found here.
 
– Book your accommodation or campsite well ahead as space does sell out soon especially in the high season. Find availability and cheap accommodation here.
 

Conclusion and disclaimer

Hopefully you found this article helpful. If you have any questions about the Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park, feel free to leave a comment. Read more? Here you will find all my Utah blogs.
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Want to read further? Then visit my page with the best hikes in Zion National Park.
 
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23 Comments

  • Serena

    Hm, hm… I confesso I DO am scared of heights, so this looks a little bit too challenging for me.
    But wow, that does look stunning!! I can imagine how rewarding it must have been to be able to see live such breathtaking landscapes.
    And yes, Lonely Planet can sometimes be a bit subjective, not only about hikes, but about everything. Well, anyway I’m always curious to try things myself as it sometimes really depends on one’s point of view.

    • anto

      I’m not really afraid of heights but my fear has to do with falling. Just the idea of making one wrong step that can be fatal. I’ve been very clumsy in the past, esp when hiking, I always slipped, tripped or slided down and so far it has always gone well. However, now we are getting some more serious hiking done (esp. in the Alps!) and it sometimes scares me … Oh well I am still learning and considering a course for alpinism next summer to get over it. We usually find LP useful for resources but not always agree with their opinion, obviously. However I’ve tried various guidebooks and this one suits us the most 🙂

  • Sandra (TravelbySan)

    I was too scared to do this hike at the only day we have at Zion. We started the Narrows, but we have to turn around because of the high risk level of flashflood that day. Too bad for us though. After reading your post I may have to go back and try this hike. In a few weeks I’m back in Utah, so maybe I will….!

    • anto

      hi Sandra! Thanks for visiting! I am sure you can do it, it’s not as scary as it looks and you can always go back. If you want to overcome your fears, I suggest you go a canyoneering trip. We did that and it was a lot of fun, yet scary at times when there was no rope involved … I can recommend you a company if you want to. Have fun in Utah, where are you going?

  • Lindsay

    We liked Angel’s Landing. You were smart to go early! It was pretty crowded when we went, and you definitely had to wait in precarious single-file lines and sometimes skirt around people, which could put you in a risky position with no hand grip! I don’t think it was as “scary” as it’s made out to be, but I was amazed at how many children were climbing with their parents. Don’t think I’d want my kids anywhere near that until they were fairly old- like late teens! http://thetraveluster.com/2013/12/angels-landing-or-devil-falls/ (my post about Angel Falls).

    • anto

      I’ve not really seen any young kids on the trail, however I’ve gotta say that generally, American kids are used to more than the kids in Holland, where we have no mountains at all… I can remember some parts of the trick that would have been scary to stand still without something to hold on to!

  • Eileen

    Such a gorgeous park. I wish we took more time to conquer those hikes – looks like the views are well worth the risk! Still though, some of those heights, yikes!

    • anto

      Thanks for visiting my site! Hopefully you’ll get the chance to go back here one day, I’m sure you’d love to hike, the height is not that scary (if you don’t look down … no need to if you don’t want to 🙂 )

  • Katei @ The World on my Necklace

    Looks like a great hike. We found the same thing with the Lonely Planet guide for the Rockies. The Crypt Lake trail in Waterton Lakes National Park is classed as difficult and it definitely paints the picture that it is a lot scarier/dangerous than what we found it to be.

    • anto

      Yes that has happened to us as well, but it really depends on the writer. Waterton Lakes is one place we’d love to visit one day so we’ll definetely keep that trail in mind!

  • Esther of Local Adventurer

    I’m extremely afraid of heights, but I think people were making Angel’s Landing out to be a lot worse than it actually is. I found it to be way less scary than what I had read or what people have told me. The half dome hike on the other hand.. had my legs shaking.

    • anto

      Yeah, so true, we had great conditions so it wasn’t as bed. I’d love to do Half Dome one day, good to know it’s actually worse than Angel’s Landing!

  • Esther of Local Adventurer

    also loved reading this post btw..

    f you have a chance to do the narrows overnight, i highly recommend that!! the first day is amazing because nobody else is there! 😀 But most of the iconic landmarks are obviously on the bottom half and more people do that.

  • Rob Bignell

    Awesome description and photos of the hike, Anto – you’ve nicely captured the highlights and offered some great insider tips. This definitely isn’t a trail for children but otherwise is a must-do at Zion.

    Rob Bignell
    Author, “Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks”

  • Tineke

    I just visited Zions and my boyfriend did this hike. I didn’t because I thought it would be to challenging cause I’m afraid of heights. But next time I will definitely do it! What I did do was an amazing trip on horseback! Everyone should definitely do that!! More info on my blog

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