Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Named one of the US Top 10 Summit Hikes by National Geographic in 2011, Angel’s Landing is an unforgettable hike for travelers of all ages. Yes, I mean all. Just be smart. It’s nerve wracking for anyone that is not best friends with heights and might be haunted by vertigo. But aside from the wobbly, Angel’s Landing is a very achievable goal for any break-willing hiker.

Distance : 5.4 miles (8.7 km)

Elevation : 1,488ft

Hiking Time : between 3 and 5 hours

Difficulty : Strenuous

How do I get there?

There are a few ways to get to stop 6 “The Grotto” in the park. You can drive to into the park, park at the visitors center and take the shuttle up. This is probably the most common option but in the summer, you’ll want to arrive before 8:30am in order to find a parking spot.

*Local Tip* You can also rent electric bikes through the Zion Guide Hub, skip the parking fiasco, and ride all the way up the canyon!

(Some people drive into the canyon and park at the Canyon Junction but to get on the shuttle from here, you have to walk 1.5 miles to get on the next shuttle stop.)

When you get to Stop 6 “The Grotto,” you’ll cross the road, go over a bridge and turn right. Left takes you to the Emerald Pools trails, which are gorgeous by the way. And if your knees allow you after Angel’s Landing, I highly recommend you go check out the waterfalls!

What to Expect

After the right turn, you’ll follow a number of switchbacks that take you into Refrigerator Canyon. If you and the other hikers keep quiet enough, Mexican Spotted Owl nest in this canyon and you might be able to spot one! After Refrigerator Canyon, you’ll reach the infamous Walter’s Wiggles – 21 back-to-back switchbacks and 250 feet of elevation gain named after Zion National Park’s first superintendant Walter Rousch who designed them in 1926. Just around the corner from the 21st switchback is Scout’s Lookout. You can hike all the way to Scout’s Lookout without a permit but as of April 2022, you are not permitted to continue toward Angel’s Landing from Scout’s Lookout without a permit. On the right, you’ll see a section of the hike with chains on it and a park ranger at the base. You’ll have to show them your permit *either printed or a screenshot* and begin the hike to the top!

Can I bring my kids? My grandma?

I’ve seen a toddler up on the landing. His parents carried him up in a carrier and let him out at the top but made him sit. Was it terrifying? Yes. Did his mom have quads of steel? Also, yes. Was he unhappy about having to sit still? Also yes. But it was done!

I’ve also seen a five year old in a climbing harness do the hike with her own two feet and a climbing leash attached to her dad’s harness. [A climbing leash is weight-rated. Please don’t attach a dog leash to your child and call it a day.]

Now, what about grandma? I’ve met plenty of grandmas on my way up and at the top. This question is super grandma-dependent. The hike, realistically, is hard on the knees and is pretty consistently vertical the entire time. And yes, grandma’s can still be badasses.

How to Prepare

Apply for a Permit

First, you’ll go to the Zion National Park Service Website and scroll down to where you can choose between “Seasonal Lottery” or “Day-Before Lottery.” The Seasonal Lottery will have available hyperlinks that send you to Recreation.gov where you can apply! If you have any questions about the new permitting system, click HERE for our guide to all things permit, including where to get a permit if you were denied from the lottery system 😉

What to Bring

  • You’re definitely going to want to bring comfortable hiking clothes.
  • At least one liter of water per person
  • Extra snacks, maybe lunch. Plan for 3-5 hours
  • Medical equipment: a knee brace or inhaler, depending on your needs

Weather Concerns

In the winter, make sure you have yak-traks, spikes, or some sort of additional safety measure to your shoes. We have hiked Angel’s Landing when it was covered in snow, just bring waterproof gloves to hold the chains with and good layers. You might be cold when you start, hot while you hike, cold while you rest, then attacked by wind when you reach the top so instead of one big jacket, I suggest appropriate layers.

You are allowed to hike Angel’s Landing in inclement weather, Zion National Park has an “adventure at your own risk” mindset so if this has been your dream for years and it’s raining, you’re allowed to hike. Just be careful, please. Keep in mind that you’re up high with no tree cover so we suggest you don’t hike if there is lightning.

Funny Thoughts / Memories / Quotes

Now for the fun part – what are some of the craziest things we’ve seen/heard going up Angel’s?

  • I saw a teenage boy hiking Angel’s Landing barefoot
  • I already told you about the five year old leashed in to her dad’s harness
  • I saw an incredible couple hike Angel’s Landing at sunrise for a private elopement photography shoot. That was pretty crazy.


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