For a downloadable PDF version of this guide CLICK HERE!
Angels Landing is the top attraction in Zion National Park and one of the most famous hikes in any US National Park. The first three quarters of this hike follow a paved trail to a scenic lookout point. The final portion of this daring hike traverses a narrow trail, with steep drop-offs on either side, to a lofty perch that provides a breathtaking 360-degree view of Zion Canyon.
Time Required: 3-4 Hours
Trailhead: Grotto Picnic Area
Distance: 8km (5 miles) round trip
Highest Elevation: 1767m (5797ft)
Elevation Gain: 463m (1519ft)
Difficulty: 8/10 – Strenuous switchbacks, exposure to steep drop-offs
Season: Year round. Spring and fall are most pleasant. Summer can be very hot and winter can be icy and dangerous.
Additional Requirements: N/A
From St. George: Travel on the I-15 North towards Salt Lake City, after 11 km (7 miles) merge onto UT-9 East via exit 16 and travel 20km (12.5 miles) through Hurricane and then up to La Verkin. Take a right turn in La Verkin to continue on the UT-9 East for 32km (20 miles) until you come into Springdale. Follow that same road until you pull up to the Zion park entrance.
From Arizona: Travel US-89A North through Fredonia, AZ and Kanab, UT. Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take UT-9 West to Zion’s East Park Entrance.
From the North: Travel the I-15 South past Beaver, UT and exit on Hwy 20. Head east until you reach US-89, then head south to the Mount Carmel Junction. Take UT-9 west to Zion’s East Park Entrance.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes. Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters. You could get away with runners but having extra grip on the rock surfaces will definitely come in handy!
- Water: This hike is long with lots of elevation gain to reach the summit. Be sure to bring enough water for 4-6 hours of physical exertion in the hot sun.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike. Some of our favorites snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice
- Weather appropriate clothing: Temperatures can get up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the summertime. Shorts, a breathable long sleeve shirt, and a hat can help protect you from the sun and heat. In the winter, the temperature can drop below freezing and it is possible to encounter snow. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Heat and Dehydration: In Zion National Park, the days can be very hot. Limit sun exposure during the hottest parts of the day. Appropriate clothing such as a hat and long sleeve shirt can protect your skin from the sun as well as reduce the risk of dehydration. The hot weather increases your need for fluid intake. Ensure you are hydrating throughout the day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water.
Steep Cliffs: Falls from cliffs along the trail have resulted in death. Stay on the trail, stay back from cliff edges and be careful of sand or loose rocks that can make for a slippery surface. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when you are trying to capture the perfect photo. During the winter months, the trail can be snow and ice covered so be extra careful and wear traction devices on your shoes for extra grip.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
ZION SHUTTLE SYSTEM
Zion Shuttle System: During the busy months (March to November), Zion National Park has a free shuttle system to help move large numbers of visitors around the park. When the shuttle is in operation Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles so visitors must rely on the shuttle service. The shuttle departs from the Zion Visitor Center and stops at nine locations in the park. The shuttles run very frequently between 7am and 6:15pm and you should never have to wait more than 10-15 minutes. Although you can park at the Visitor Center, the lot fills up quickly so it is best to park in the town of Springdale and take the Springdale Shuttle to the park gate.
The Springdale Shuttle leaves from the Majestic View Lodge and stops at the Zion Canyon Theatre. From the Zion Canyon Theatre, cross through the National Park Pedestrian Entrance to pay the entry fee, then catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle from the Visitor Center.
There are many Springdale Shuttle stops between the Majestic View Lodge, and Zion Canyon Theater. Walk to the nearest stop from your accommodation or drive and park in a marked “Shuttle Parking” area.
Summary: Starting at the Grotto Picnic Area you’ll follow the West Rim Trail along the Virgin River and then up long steep switchbacks into Refrigerator Canyon. You’ll then enjoy a nice cool walk through Refrigerator Canyon before a strenuous climb up the Walter’s Wiggles Switchbacks to Scout’s Lookout. At Scout’s Lookout, the real adventure begins. To reach Angels Landing, you must scramble along a very exposed narrow ridge that feeds into the middle of Zion National Park. The summit offers an amazing view of the Canyon, and is aptly described by Frederick Fisher who discovered it: “Only an angel could land on it”.
Depending on if the shuttles are running, either take the shuttle to, or park at the Grotto Picnic Area (Route marker #1 on the map). This is the sixth stop from the Visitors Center on the Zion Canyon Shuttle. From the parking lot, head west and cross the bridge over the Virgin River. Just past the bridge the trail veers right. This is the West Rim Trail.
Follow the West Rim Trail along the canyon wall as it gains elevation. This path is quite steep but is paved and well maintained. As you climb along the trail, you are given a taste of the spectacular views of the canyon to come.
After following the West Rim Trail for about a mile, you’ll take a left into Refrigerator Canyon (Route marker #2 on the map). This is a great spot for a break to take some pictures looking back at the canyon. The path through Refrigerator Canyon is cool and shaded with cliff walls rising hundreds of feet on your left and right. The incline lets up for this leg of the hike and on a warm day, the walk through Refrigerator Canyon can be exceptionally refreshing.
At the end of the canyon, you’ll turn around and begin climbing the Walter’s Wiggles Switchbacks (Route marker #3 on the map). These are a series of 21 steep and compact switchbacks that lead to the top of Refrigerator Canyon and out to Scout’s Lookout (Route marker #4 on the map).
At Scout’s Lookout, the West Rim Trail heads north through Cabin Spring and on to Lava Point while the trail to Angels Landing heads south. At this point you are only about a half-mile from the summit, but the trail gets much more challenging and adventurous. If you don’t have much scrambling experience or are afraid of heights, do not travel further than Scout’s lookout.
The trail from Scout’s Lookout to Angels Landing will get your adrenaline pumping. You have another 150m (500ft) of elevation to gain and the terrain gets more difficult. You will be walking along a narrow, rocky ridge to the summit. At some points you can look hundreds of feet to the canyon floor below on either side of the trail. If at any moment you start to panic or feel uncomfortable, turn back because it doesn’t get any easier. There are chains and guard rails bolted into the rock to help provide some extra stability and security. There are also natural steps formed into the rock that assist with the climb. Follow the chains to the summit.
Follow the ridge until you reach the final viewpoint. From here you have one of the most incredible 360-degree views right from the center of Zion National Park. Although it isn’t as high in elevation as some of the rim trails, the view from Angels Landing is like no other. Take a break, have a snack, beware of chipmunks and enjoy the views!
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Thank you for choosing Epic Trip Adventures as your guide. We are committed to continually updating our guides to be as relevant and accurate as possible. If you have feedback to improve this guide please leave it in the comments below.
We also want to hear about your Angels Landing adventures. If you have stories, pictures or even a link to your own adventure video please share them below!
Have fun out there!