Angels Landing is a classic hike and one of the most popular trails in Zion National Park. The trail begins at the canyon floor, traverses through 21 steep switchbacks, and ascends along the ridge to Angels Landing. For those brave enough to hike the last half-mile using chains with 1,000 ft cliffs on either side, they’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Zion Canyon. It is said that “Angels Landing is so high that only an angel could land on it.”
Angels Landing is accessible by taking the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the 6th stop: The Grotto. There is a bathroom at this stop and the trail begins just across the street on the West Rim Trail. The entire hike is 5 miles roundtrip with 1,500 ft of elevation gain.
West Rim Trail
The first half of the hike is moderate with a steady incline up to Refrigerator Canyon. Along the way, be sure to look back to see how far you’ve hiked from the road and watch the Virgin River snake through Zion Canyon. There is a nice photo op right before you turn into Refrigerator Canyon.
The temperature in Refrigerator Canyon is cool and the trail flattens a bit, allowing you to cool off and catch your breath before arriving at Walter’s Wiggles. This is a series of 21 short and steep switchbacks that will really make your legs burn. During this portion, I was out of breath and it felt like the switchbacks were never ending!
At the top of Walter’s Wiggle, the trail opens up to Scouts Lookout with good viewpoints of Angels Landing and Zion Canyon. From here, you’ll be able to see just how steep and narrow the spine of Angels Landing is! The trail literally goes along a giant rock that protrudes into the canyon. I thought to myself, ‘Am I really hiking that?’
Final Hike to Angels Landing
The last half-mile of the hike to Angels Landing is the most exciting, and it’s both exhilarating and terrifying. This is the hike everyone talks about where you use chains to hike along the ridge with 1,000 ft cliffs on either side. While several parts of the hike are exposed, other sections have guardrails or well-carved foot holes. Nevertheless, this hike is very strenuous and requires you to be extra cautious on the trail. Lots of people opt to turnaround at Scouts Lookout and it’s totally fine, safety first!
The beginning of this section starts out (relatively) easier as a warm up of what’s to come. I got used to the chains and seeing cliffs on either side of me.
As the trail continues, some parts are as narrow as your stance with sheer drop-offs to one side. Other sections have narrow rock scrambles where you take turns with oncoming hikers.
There’s no margin for error as you’re less than a foot away from a 1,000 ft vertical drop. I made sure to always have one hand on the chains at all times.
After about 30 minutes of sweaty palms and nervous peeks over the edge, I was relieved to finally reach Angels Landing! The views of Zion Canyon were fantastic and it felt like I was on the top of the world (psst, Angels Landing isn’t the highest peak).
To me, Angels Landing was not only about the views, but also about the hike to get there. I could see the entire trail I hiked to get there and it still blows my mind that such a trail was possible. It was such a treacherous and unique trail that the hike itself was almost more exciting than the view!
Tips for Angels Landing
Angels Landing is one of my favorite hikes of all time because of how unique it is and the views it offers. I highly recommend more experienced hikers and people who are not afraid of heights to hike Angels Landing at least once. It won’t disappoint and this is definitely a hike you’ll remember.