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Hiking To The Top Of Angel’s Landing

One of the most famous trails in Zion National Park is the hike to Angel’s Landing. The trail offers picturesque views around every corner and jaw-dropping cliffs that will leave your legs shaking.

Angel’s Landing has been dubbed one of the scariest hikes in America. The route zigzags up steep, sandstone cliffs and rises 1,500 feet above the valley floor.

This hike is one that every thrill-seeker should add to their bucket list. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about the popular hiking trail.

Quick Facts About The Angel’s Landing Hike

  • Total Distance: 5.4 miles (out and back)
  • Estimated Time: 4 hours
  • Elevation Change: 1,500 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: Strenuous
  • Permits: Required
cairns at the summit of angels landing
Cairns at the summit of Angel’s Landing

Permits are required

Before you hop in the car and drive to Zion National Park, it’s important to know that permits are required to hike to the Angel’s Landing summit as of April 1, 2022.

To obtain a permit, enter the lottery on Recreation.gov The application fee is $6 to enter. Plus $3 per person for each winning entry.

Note that you can hike all the way to Scout’s Lookout without a permit. This is a great opportunity to get most of the views without the hassle of planning ahead.

Permits are obtained using a lottery system, it is NOT first-come first-served. You can apply for a permit up to 2 months in advance.

map of permit requirements for the angels landing hike in zion
Permits are required on the last 1/2 mile section of Angel’s Landing

Highlights Along The Angels Landing Trail

The Best Season To Hike Angel’s Landing

Spring and fall are the best time of year to hike Angel’s Landing. During this time, the temperatures are cooler, crowds are smaller, and the days are typically warm and sunny.

During summer, temperatures in the park can reach 100°F which makes the hike dangerous and extremely unenjoyable. In the winter, the trail will get covered in ice and snow which makes it nearly impossible to scale.

picture of couple hiking to the top of angel's landing during winter
Hiking Angel’s Landing in winter

The Best Time To Hike

Historically, arriving early has been the best time to hike Angel’s Landing so you can avoid the crowds and travel in cooler temperatures. However with the new permit system in place, the tourists will be dispersed across the multiple time slots.

The best time to go is when you have a permit.

Zion is an extremely popular park and it’s not very large. So even if you have a time slot later in the day, you should still plan to get there in the morning because the shuttle can get backed up and it can be hard to find parking.

The first shuttles of the day start at 8:00am.

map of the angel's landing shuttle stop and parking lot at the grotto

Getting to The Grotto trailhead

The most popular path to the top of Angel’s Landing is via the West Rim trail which begins at Shuttle Stop #6 (The Grotto). The free shuttle runs continuously throughout the day and it’s the easiest way to get to the trailhead.

From the shuttle stop, cross the footbridge across the Virgin River and start your hike on the West Rim Trail. You’ll immediately be greeted with a breathtaking view of the Court of Patriarchs and Angel’s Landing.

photo of footbridge across the virgin river at the grotto trailhead for angel's landing hike
Footbridge across the Virgin River

Refrigerator Canyon

The first two miles of the hike rise slow and steady up the West Rim Trail. This area is known as “Refrigerator Canyon” because in the afternoons it is cool and shaded. Oftentimes hikers get to experience a relaxing breeze along this section.

Despite the cooler temperatures, this part of the hike is not easy. But it does have plenty of fantastic views along the way.

Make sure to look back at all the progress you’ve made on the way up. You’ll need the motivation when entering Walter’s Wiggles.

picture of the first switchbacks in refrigerator canyon on the west rim trail in zion national park
First set of switchbacks up Refrigerator Canyon

Walter’s Wiggles

One of the most grueling parts of the Angel’s Landing Hike is the Walter’s Wiggles section. This part of the trail includes 21 tight switchbacks that zigzag upward to Scout’s Lookout.

The switchbacks climb 250 feet in elevation over 0.25 miles.

Even the most strong and seasoned hikers will have to make multiple stops on the way up to catch their breath and rest their legs.

Fortunately the path is wide and paved so it’s easy to find your footing and go around slower hikers.

picture of walters wiggles switchbacks in zion national park on the angels landing hike
Walters Wiggles switchbacks
photo looking back from walters wiggles in zion national park on the angels landing trail
Looking back from Walter’s Wiggles

Scout Lookout

At the top of Walter’s Wiggles after you’ve concurred the last switchback, you’ll arrive at Scout’s Lookout. This is a popular turnaround point for those with a fear of heights because it’s the first place where you can view The Spine to the summit.

If someone in your group has a fear of heights, it’s a good place to split up and re-group at a later time.

Whether you decide to continue to the summit or not, Scout Lookout is one of the best overlooks in Zion.

Plenty of hikers decide to relax with a bottle of water and watch the more thrill-seeking members of society climb up the chains from here.

Permits Required

From Scout Lookout onward, permits are required to hike the last 1/2 mile section up the chains to Angel’s Landing. Even if you weren’t able to win the lottery, you can still get excellent views of the valley.

Make sure to bring a copy of your permit with you on the hike. Park rangers will be checking permits at Scout Lookout!

picture of the view from scout lookout on angel's landing trail in zion
View from Scout Lookout

Hiking The Chain Section on the Spine

The final hike from Scout Lookout to the summit of Angel’s Landing is known as The Spine. It’s only 500 feet long, but it’s the steepest and scariest portion of the hike.

Both sides of the trail are exposed and drop off sharply to the valley floor below. The trail is only a couple of feet wide and has uneven footing.

The worst part about summiting Angel’s Landing is navigating all of the other tourists along the way.

Chains drilled into the sandstone help guide you all the way to the top, but passing slower hikers is going to require you to let go and scoot around them.

Take your time when hiking The Spine and be prepared to make frequent stops. Don’t let go of the chains unless you have to because the dramatic views can give you vertigo.

picture of heavy crowds which lead to permit system for angels landing hiking trail
Watching hikers summit from Scout’s Lookout
picture of the chains on angels landing hike in zion national park is one of the top things to do
Chains leading up The Spine section of the Angel’s Landing Hike
photo of heavy crowds and tourists hiking to the top of angels landing
Tourists climbing up Angel’s Landing
picture of hiker climbing up chains to the summit of angels landing
Hiking to the Angel’s Landing Summit

The Angel’s Landing Summit

Once you get past the chains along The Spine, the path widens and there is plenty of space to move around on the summit of Angel’s Landing.

One notable feature is the tens of tiny cairn’s built along the edge. Most people will choose to spend an extended period of time up here resting and taking in the views.

picture of person sitting on the summit of the angels landing hike zion during sunset
Sitting on top of the Angel’s Landing Summit

The Hike Down

Even though the hike up may seem the most daunting, remember that you’re only halfway there. The way down is more dangerous than the way up because hikers get tired and let their guard down.

Later in the day, you’re going to experience more intense crowds and higher temperatures which can lead to missteps. Remember to keep your vigilance.

Tips For Hiking Angels Landing

Permits are only required for the last half-mile section of the Angel’s Landing hike so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get one. There are still plenty of other amazing hiking opportunities in Zion including the trail to Scout Lookout.

Check the weather before you go. Even if you’ve waited months to try and obtain a permit it’s extremely dangerous to do this hike during thunderstorms. The trail gets slippery and you could attract lightening. If there is any chance of rain, do not hike attempt the Angel’s Landing hike!

Get some exercise before attempting this hike. The route is very strenuous and not recommended for beginners. Do yourself a favor and get some miles under your belt before attempting to summit.

What To Pack

  • Your permit: download or print a copy of your permit ahead of the hike. Cell phone service is spotty or non-existent throughout the park so don’t rely on it when you get there.
  • Sturdy shoes: Flip flops are not going to cut it for this strenuous hike. Make sure you’ve got grippy hiking shoes because there is a lot of uneven terrain along the way.
  • Gloves: Many hikers benefit from packing a pair of gloves for the chain section. Not only do the chains get hot in the middle of the day, but gloves will help keep your grip when sweaty hands become a problem during the hike.
  • Sunscreen: This hike gets plenty of exposure, especially as you get near the top.
  • Lot’s of water: Pack at least 2 liters of water per person before hiking Angel’s Landing
  • Snacks: The hike takes about 4-hours round trip plus all of the extra time you’ll want to spend admiring the views. Consider packing some sandwiches, protein bars, or nuts to keep your energy levels high during the hike.

Angel’s Landing Facts and Questions

Are kids allowed at Angel’s Landing?

There are no age restrictions for the Angel’s Landing hike. But it is not recommended for young kids under the age of 12. Instead, consider hiking with the kids to Canyon Overlook which offers excellent views without the danger.

Can you hike angel’s landing in winter?

Angel’s Landing is open year-round, but in winter months (November, December, January, and February) the path becomes extremely slippery and icy. March-October is the best time to hike.

What is the best camping spot for an Angel’s Landing hike?

Watchman Campground and South Campground are the best places to stay if you want to get up early for a hike to Angel’s Landing.

What are the best spots to get Angel’s Landing hike pictures?

Walter’s Wiggles is a great spot to get pictures on the Angel’s Landing hike. Turn around and point your camera towards the valley floor. Scout’s Lookout and the Angel’s Landing summit are also great photo spots.

How difficult is the Angel’s Landing hike?

Angel’s Landing is a strenuous hike and typically takes tourists about 4-5 hours to complete. You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you are a beginner or have a fear of heights.

Is the Angel’s Landing hike dangerous?

9 People have died on the Angel’s Landing hike since 2010. However, more than 300,000 people hike Angel’s Landing per year so the chances of a dangerous fall are low.

Can you get to Angel’s Landing without the shuttle?

You can hike or bike to the trailhead of Angel’s Landing without using the shuttle system. But, it is 4.8 miles so it’s best to use the park shuttle.

Where to park for the Angels Landing hike?

The closest parking to Angel’s Landing is at the Zion Visitor Center. But, parking fills up early in the morning so it’s best to park in the city of Springdale and take the shuttle in.

Observation Point or Angel’s Landing Overlook: Which is better?

Observation point is an easier and shorter hike. It’s also taller than the Angel’s Landing Overlook. Observation point is best for beginners, and Angel’s Landing is better for advanced hikers.

Half dome vs Angel’s Landing Hike: Which is harder?

The Half Dome hike is harder than Angel’s Landing because it’s about 3 times longer, has a higher elevation gain, and steeper climb.

When is the Angel’s Landing hiking season?

The Angel’s Landing hike is open year-round but you’ll want to avoid hiking in the winter because of snow and ice. During the summer, it is too hot to comfortably hike so you should hike in the spring or fall.

What to do after the hike

Relax! There are plenty of things to do in Zion National Park, from horseback riding to scenic drives, and other breathtaking overlooks.

If you’re someone who wants to get really immersed in the park, consider camping in Zion so you can hit the trails first thing in the morning.

There are also plenty of dispersed camping sites in Utah where you can spend the night for free.

If you want to get away from the crowds, check out the Kolob Canyon area which has some incredible emerald pools and canyoneering opportunities.

Kate And Ian Moore, Authors At Parked In Paradise

Kate is the lead content creator for ParkedInParadise.com and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.