Angels Landing Hiking Trail Guide


There's no view more dramatic than what you see hanging onto a chain bolted into a cliff.

Angels Landing is one of the world's most renowned hikes and is an unforgettable adventure worthy of all bucket lists. The stunning views of Zion Canyon's 270-million-year-old rock layers will time travel you back to the Triassic period when this section of the Colorado Plateau was just a flat basin at sea level. Talk about a glow-up! And you know that old expression “getting there is half the fun”? Well with Angels Landing it’s closer to three-quarters of the fun. Or ninety-nine hundredths of the fun. Read more...

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Angels Landing trail switchbacks.
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Angels Landing trail switchbacks.

Anyone in an average physical condition can make this heavenward trek, but it can be mentally challenging with its steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. There are chains bolted into the cliff to provide secure handholds on the final stretch, but people who have a severe fear of heights should not attempt this section. They’ll have to settle for stopping at Scout Lookout and enjoying the unforgettable, life-changing view from there instead. Sigh. 

Trailhead 

The Grotto Trailhead - Zion Canyon. Can be easily accessed by taking the Zion Canyon Shuttle from the visitor center. 

Difficulty 

  • Strenuous; steep with exposure to long drop-offs 

Distance 

  • 5 miles (round trip), 4-5 hours 

Elevation change

  • 1,488 feet 

Reservations

Angels Landing is one of its most popular trails in Zion National Park. Hundreds of thousands of people hit this trail each year. And visitation numbers for Utah’s most people-y national park continue to climb. To prevent overcrowding and keep hikers safe — especially on the chain section of the Angels Landing hike — a permit is required. Permits (for up to six people) are issued through seasonal or day-before lotteries on the National Park Service Website.

The seasonal lottery allows prospective hikers to rank, in order of preference, the seven days and times when they will be in the park. Each seasonal lottery opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 11:59 p.m. Dates below are for 2023.

Spring: Apply Jan. 1-20 for hikes between March 1 and May 31 
Summer: Apply April 1-20 for hikes from June 1 to Aug. 31 
Fall: Apply July 1-20 for hikes Sept. 1 to Nov. 30
Winter: Apply Oct. 1-20 for hikes between Dec. 1 and Feb. 29, 2024

The day-before lottery is available for all the spontaneous sojourners and second chancers who didn’t get an Angels Landing permit through the seasonal lottery. Enter between midnight and 3 p.m. the day before your desired hike date. You’ll be notified via email by 4 p.m. if you get the coveted permit. Note: No permits are available April 3-6, 2023; the trail is closed for maintenance.  

Other Factors

Restrooms and drinking water are available at the Grotto. Make sure to carry enough water and snacks for the whole hike (there aren’t too many convenience stores in the middle of a national park) and bring a small backpack to hold it all so your hands are free to hold onto the chains. 

Route Description 

The trailhead is at the bridge across the road of the Grotto Picnic Area, in Zion Canyon. The first part of the hike follows the West Rim Trail, which is clearly identified by a sign. The trail is broad and well maintained. The first section is fairly level as it follows the river and then crosses the canyon bottom. Switchbacks allow the trail to climb the canyon wall up to Refrigerator Canyon. The aptly named canyon is pleasantly cool, scenic, and features easy terrain. 

The trail then climbs another series of switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles. These 21 switchbacks are very tight and hikers gain elevation rapidly, but this section is short and not too oppressive. 

The Wiggles put you on top of the ridge, at Scout Lookout, where the views are truly amazing. Restrooms are available here, but no drinking water. From Scout Lookout, gaze at the ridge to the south and you'll get a good idea of the difficulty of the rest of the hike. 

For the final half-mile, the trail follows the ridge across a saddle and up the Hogsback. This is where things get just a tad hairy and you become very grateful for the bolted-in chains. For those who are comfortable with both heights and the terrain ahead, the destination is well worth the adventurous route to get there. From Angels Landing Summit you can enjoy one of the finest views in all of Zion National Park. That means it’s one of the best views in Utah, which means it’s one of the best views in the world.

Trail Highlights 

Grotto Trailhead (37.259392, -112.950038) 

The trail begins across the river from the Grotto Picnic Area. It travels over pretty level terrain until you hit the switchbacks that take you up to Refrigerator Canyon. 

Refrigerator Canyon (37.269802, -112.950396) 

Refrigerator Canyon is always shady and cool, with a comfortable breeze that can enchant hikers in the sweltering heat of daytime. 

Walter's Wiggles (37.275641, -112.951597) 

Walter's Wiggles is a series of 21 switchbacks that quickly rise to the top of the ridge at Scout Lookout. From here you can preview the last half-mile of the hike, which unsurprisingly makes this a common turnaround point for those who consider the last section too difficult. 

Hogsback (37.271108, -112.949816)

From Scout Lookout, you cross the Saddle and then climb the ridiculously steep and narrow Hogsback, using the chains that are bolted into the stone to keep from sliding over the edge of the cliff. 

Angels Landing Summit (37.269125, -112.947894) 

Once you've conquered the Hogsback, you are ready to mount the Landing. Hardy trees have made their homes clinging to the steep slopes of the Landing, offering shelter to birds, foraging chipmunks and exhausted hikers. 

Travel Tips & Safety 

Safety: 

• Do not hike if you have a fear of heights 

• This hike may not be suitable for young children or those not in good physical shape • Stay on the trail 

• Keep an eye on the weather before and during your hike 

• Wait your turn to pass other hikers 

Other Tips: 

• Bring sunscreen/water. 

• Get a bathroom break in before heading up 

• Wear the right shoes (traction, traction, traction!) 

• Hike earlier in the morning to avoid extreme weather and crowds 

Nearby Lodging 

Springdale is the closest town to the entrance of the park, so if you’re trying to make that early morning start as painless as possible, it’s the place to be. This small parkside town has lots of great options on any budget and puts you as close to the action as possible. If you want to make your trip to Angels Landing a part of a larger itinerary to other destinations in southern Utah, there are also excellent lodging options further out in Mount Carmel, Kanab, or even St. George. Camping and other lodging options are available in the park if you want the most immersive experience possible, but be sure to book early! Spots in the park usually have to be snagged a few months out. 

Some more of our favorite spots to stay near Zion include: 

● Zion Ponderosa 

● Zion Mountain Ranch 

● Cable Mountain Lodge 

Nearby Trails

THE NARROWS: Slosh through the very same river that cut the canyon currently providing you with all that cool, wonderful shade. You'll mostly be in up to your ankles but a few stretches get waist-deep. (Probably the wrong time to break out those leather pants.) Read more… 

WATCHMAN TRAIL: The Watchman Trail is a great little trail that, along with the Pa’rus bike trail, is just within the sanctuary of the park and often overlooked by the crowds. Read more… 

THE SUBWAY: The Subway is a classic semi-technical slot canyon hike in Zion National Park. Completing the hike/wade/swim/scramble/climb is a surefire adventure, and is easier tackled from the bottom up.

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