Trail Reviews: Angel’s Landing – Zion National Park
Distance: 5.4 miles
Arguably the most popular trail in Zion National Park, Angel’s Landing attracts thousands upon thousands of adrenaline junkies each year. If you’re looking to sneak in the thrill of stunning views and breathtaking drops, then Angel’s Landing is the experience for you. This adventure is definitely not for the faint of heart, so fair warning if you have even the slightest fear of heights.
I did this hike in early March and found the weather to be absolutely perfect. One thing that was not perfect however, were the many people accompanying me on the same journey. I can’t say I was surprised as this trail is what draws many to Zion. As with any other popular national park, I would recommend going in the off season to avoid the masses as best you can. Due to the high exposure of this particular hike, completing the last leg gets more dangerous the more people are attempting it at the same time.
From the visitor parking lot just past the entrance into the park you can take the shuttle to stop 6, the Grotto. From the stop, cross the street to the trail head and begin your ascent. The trail begins with a gradual incline, but don’t get your hopes up. Not too far into the hike the elevation ramps up through winding switchbacks. Keep in mind this is not a race! Take breaks as needed to catch your breath and take in the surrounding beauty of the winding Virgin river beneath the mountains as you grow higher and higher in elevation.
A good portion of the trail leading up to the chained portion is adequately shaded. Much of the elevation gain occurs within the first mile or so compared to the actual climbing of Angel’s Landing itself. Soon, you will reach the stacked switchbacks named Walter’s Wiggles. After Walter’s Wiggles you will come upon Scout’s Landing, a nice viewpoint to take a break and catch your breath before attempting the last leg of the trail! This last leg is the most dangerous portion of the trail, but despite what anyone may tell you, keep calm and focused and you will have no problem completing reaching the end of Angel’s Landing. With careful footing and a firm grip on the chain, getting to the top is no problem.
It is important to note that there is only ONE chain that is used by traffic going up AND coming down. This means only one group of people can be going up or coming down at a given time. Be respectful and mindful of those going in the opposite direction as you to avoid backups from one group not being able to continue in their respective direction.
Before you know it, you will have reached the very top of Angel’s Landing. Give yourself a big pat on the back, rest easy in your accomplishment, and enjoy the panoramic views of mountains, valleys, and the winding Virgin river below. If you have the courage, venture down the side of Angel’s Landing to the ledge to escape most of the crowd and have a brief moment to yourself. There’s lots of space at the top to spread out and enjoy a much-deserved snack or socialize with those around you! When you’ve had your fill, head back down the way you came up and remember to be respectful of those trying to head up the opposite direction on the chains.