I almost chickened out.
Well…maybe that’s an exaggeration but I did stop in the hotel room dressed and ready, backpack on, and question whether or not I should just head to Canyon Overlook Trail instead. Same views, easier hike, and less risk, right? Besides, I’m not entirely sure I’ve graduated from my “nonhiker” Patagonia days to “official hiker” just yet.
No, Angels Landing Hike is one of the top things to do in Zion National Park. Where on Earth did that self-doubt come from?
Climbing Angels Landing Hike at Zion National Park
After having some breakfast at the hotel, I took the Springdale shuttle to the Zion National Park entrance. From there, I took the Zion shuttle to stop #6, The Grotto.
The day was sunny, clear, and comfortable 65-70 degrees. I was glad to get a somewhat earlyish start. I wanted to be done before the hottest part of the day and to avoid as much of the crowds as possible. The shuttle drops hikers off across the street from the trailhead. You’ll have to walk across the bridge spanning the Virgin River to begin.
Angels Landing Hike climbs to a stunning panorama overlooking the river valley below surrounded by the towering rock of Zion Canyon. The hike is 2.4 miles one-way and takes about 4 hours to complete round trip. It’s a constant uphill climb, ascending bit by bit at first.
I continued to wind along the rock as the trail became much steeper before briefly leveling out onto a flat pathway. The path changes to paved as the trail becomes steeper.
I stopped several times to
catch my breath take photos, enjoy the surroundings, and relish in my progress thus far.
There are very few shady places along the way and no bathroom or water facilities. Be prepared with plenty of water and sunscreen! I ended up giving a whole bottle of water to another hiker who was suffering from thirst because he had run out of water.
At this point, you’ll make your way to the final set of 21 very steep, paved switchbacks up to Scouts Landing. The path is strenuous but clear and well-maintained.
It’s an accomplishment to make it up these switchbacks to Scouts Landing, where many people choose to stop. You can sit along the rocky landing, have a picnic, take in the views, and rest before making the return trip. You’ll also be able to see a section of the last half mile to Angels Landing and the hikers on their way or returning.
I stopped only to take some water, pack away my camera, and tie my shoes before continuing on to Angels Landing. This last half mile is a steep and narrow rock scramble with the drop to the canyon below always near on either side. The path is sandy and the rocks can be slippery. The placement of every step matters.
There are chain links drilled into the rock intended to guide the way and also to act as a grip when necessary. I’ve read other blog posts and articles using phrases like if you choose to hold onto the chain links. My question is, “Why wouldn’t you use the chain links?!” You need to be able to steady your own footing along the path regardless of the chains or not, but when they were there, I found them more helpful than not.
The trail is just a few feet wide in spots and hikers are both ascending and descending along the same path.
At times, you need to stop and wait for others to pass by before moving ahead. The earlier in the morning you make the climb, the less crowded the pathway will be. The fewer people on the path makes it safer, too! As I waited my turn to continue, a man commented on my Walking Dead hat. No pun intended, right?! Next time, I’ll give more thought to the subliminal messages my hat gives off!
If you’re planning a climb to Angels Landing, keep in mind, it’s not for everyone. You should have at least a reasonable degree of physical stamina. Do not do Angel’s Landing Hike if you’re afraid of heights. Plan to wear good gripping sneakers or hiking boots. No sandals or flip flops seems logical, right? How about no going barefoot?! Trust me, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!
Be sure you have free use of both arms, as there are many times you’ll need your arms, hands, and legs to climb the rocky cliffs to Angels Landing. This means no backpack straps dangling, hair distractions, or a camera around your neck. The danger along the last half mile is real and safety should be your primary concern.
Forgive me for a moment while my teacher side has its say. Parents, Angels Landing Hike is not for young children. Plenty of parents seemed to understand this and sensibly stopped at Scout’s Landing. But, I did watch as a family climbed with their daughter who couldn’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old. She needed to be hoisted from rock to rock and was perilously close to edge numerous times. Search Google for “Angels Landing falls” and you’ll come across a newspaper report in the Salt Lake Tribune about a young girl who was narrowly saved when she slipped, skidded toward the edge, and was grabbed by both legs by her father and a nearby man, who happened to be an off-duty police officer. Please, do not do Angels Landing Hike with small children.
After a couple of hours of hiking and rock scrambling, I made it to the top of Angels Landing! Of course, it was worth it! What was that momentary blip of weakness back at the hotel? The hike was tough, but thrilling! The views were incredible. Sitting to enjoy my triumph, eating a few snacks and rehydrating, I decided it was official. I’ve graduated from nonhiker to hiker. Do you agree?
This is Part 3 of my Zion National Park series. For Part 2, 8 Spectacular Things to do at Zion National Park, click here and for Part 1, What You Need to Know for a Successful Zion National Park Visit, click here.
Would you do Angels Landing Hike? Have you already done Angels Landing Hike? What have I missed?
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