Angel’s Landing is an iconic day hike in Zion National Park, situated in the corner of southwest Utah. It is beautiful, it is strenuous, and at times, is thrilling – none of which I knew before I began.
My Angel’s Landing Experience
I first visited Utah in the spring of 2016, and to say it was impactful is an understatement: In almost two years, I don’t believe there has been a day I haven’t thought about that state and the unique beauty it holds.
I arrived in Cedar City after spending a couple of weeks in and around Moab. Within only a few minutes of meeting my Couchsurfing host I knew I’d made the right request: He already had plans of climbing, canyoneering, and exploring places I would otherwise never see.
On Day 2, little had a little trio to head into Zion. I had heard the names of the National Park’s classic hikes many times before; ‘The Narrows,’ and ‘Angel’s Landing,’ yet somehow, still had no idea what either one of them entailed. We opted for the latter, and only when we were well into the hike did I hear claims such as ‘one of the world’s most dangerous hikes’ and ‘at least five people have died up there.’
Whattt!? What had I gotten myself into.
One hell of a hike, that’s for sure.
But also one that, upon arriving at the finish line, took my breath away.
Top Three Angel’s Landing Descriptors
- Resemblant of the landscapes from Avatar… or other things out of this world.
- Exhilarating… The steep drops are enough to make anyone’s heart rate rise, then add on two-way traffic!
- Totally doable… It can be easy to let the warnings and precautions get the better of the mind, but with some planning, caution, and mindful hiking, you’ll get to experience what this world-renowned trail has to offer.
Things to Consider
- The park is popular and lineups can accumulate at the entrance gate, in particular in the on-season. Plan to arrive early or allow a bit of extra time into your journey there. The entrance fee is $30.00 for any non-commercial vehicles (capacity of 15 occupants or less, reflected as of 2017).
- Get there early to ensure your parking spot (before 10am if you’re not taking the shuttle in from Springdale).
- Zion offers free shuttle service within the park that will take you right to the base of Angel’s Landing trailhead (operations halt during the off-season but are set to resume again as of February 2018): hop on the Visitor’s Centre and off at The Grotto. Right across the road is your trailhead.
- The hike up to the Angel’s Landing viewpoint is 4.35 km (2.7 mi), making it 8.7 km (5.4 mi) round trip with 1,488 ft of elevation gain. They say to allow roughly half a day (3-6 hours) to complete it.
- The hike is not for the faint of heart. There are many exposed sections with steep drops on either side. You do have a metal chain for added security, but limited space on the fin means that hikers share the same path (and chain) in both directions.
- Check the weather before you begin. Like many hikes in Utah, rain can make a seemingly harmless hike super dangerous. This is the case with Angel’s Landing: wet conditions and slippery rock can not only be taxing on the trail, but also on the mind. If storms are in the forecast, leave the uncertainty behind and opt for another day.
- Bring lots of water with you. There are no further amenities on the trail, and it can get hot up there.
- Take your time and be sure to pack your patience. The most dangerous part of the hike isn’t surrounding the trail itself, but crowding on bi-directional trail. Often, the latter half only has room for one person with little room to step aside for those coming from the opposite end. Although it can lead to bottlenecking, make way for others and move through when others make way for you.
- Get there during off-peak hours to avoid the crowds. Not only will you have less people fighting for the chain-of-life, but you’ll also have peace of mind not having to do so.
- ENJOY IT! Not many people get to see this beautiful corner of the world. Be sure to reward yourself at the top – and take in all the views.
Utah is home to five national parks, the most of any other state. Zion happens to be the first of the five.
If you’re not feeling Angel’s Landing, Observation Point is a solid alternative that offers just as spectacular views (12.9 km, or 8 mi roundtrip).
If you’ve still got energy left once you’re down, hikers can easily link the trail with Lower Emerald Pools.
An Insider’s Secret
Springdale is a perfect stop for sustenance before or after a day of hiking in Zion. My fave: Cafe Soleil (claiming to have the best vegan/vegetarian options in this little Zion city).
But is it Recommended?
You know it! Beautiful AND badass. Zion remains one of my favourite National Parks to date.
Looking for other things to do in Utah?
Here’s the Fail Laugh Learn guide to Arches.
Did we miss anything? Have any Zion experiences to share? Questions about your upcoming trip? We’d love to hear them below!