Angels Landing
Zion National Park

angels landing
Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

The Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park is listed as a "strenuous" hike. However, of all the strenuous hikes in the park, this is one of the easiest ones. So, if you are up for the challenge, keep reading!

In 1916, Frederick Vining Fisher was exploring the park when he saw a huge sandstone formation (over 1,200 feet high). He was so impressed that he said, "only an angel could land on it." Since then, the towering outcrop has been named Angels Landing.

The trailhead is on the west side of the Virgin River (see #9 on map); so at your convenience, cross the bridge to get to the other side. You can do this near The Grotto or near Zion Lodge.

The trail hugs the side of a mountain pretty much following the flow of the river. It is a packed, dirt trail with a few switchbacks. The beginning of the trail is easy enough with moderate elevation gain.
angels landing
Bridge over the Virgin River as you approach Angels Landing trail.

angels landing
The first portion of the trail is a packed-dirt trail hugging the side of the rockface

angels landing
Look up to see people the size of ants walking uphill.

After about 20 minutes, you start to realize that you've conquered a few switchbacks but there are many more to come. Look up to see where you're heading...

angels landing
Looking down from a switchback to see how far you've climbed.

and look down to see where you've been. Keep in mind that you're going to have to go down those switchbacks on your return trip. Some people find going down is harder on the knees than going up.

Continuing along, the trail turns away from the river and you will find wind/rain carved caves and natural bridges.

zion tunnel

zion tunnel

walter wiggles
Walter's Wiggles, a series of 21 switchbacks.

Proceed until you get to a set of switch-backs called Walter's Wiggles: it is a set of 21 switch-backs named after Walter Ruesch, the first superintendent of Zion National Park. The Wiggle was made in 1924. You can see people on the trail (6th switchback from the top).

Once you've conquered the Wiggle, you will come to a flattened area called Scouts Lookout. Here, you can rest, get a drink of water, and have a look around. Most casual hikers, especially families with kids, will stop here, have a snack, and then head back down the trail. The rest of the way is pretty hard.

Brave and adventurous souls can hike up the final stretch to the peak which is 5,785 feet above sea-level. This last half mile of the hike is treacherous with slippery gravel, sharp drop-offs, and narrow paths. Parts of the trail have a chain which you can hold onto for support, but there are no railing so if you fall, you are seriously out of luck. It is an unforgiving terrain.

Zion Scouts Lookout
Scouts Lookout: a good place to rest and think about turning around.

angels landing
Angels Landing, the treacherous last quarter mile to the peak.

For those who want to attempt this last part of the trail, you must have good hiking shoes with traction. Do not attempt with running shoes which offer no grip. Large backpacks and loose items should be left with family/friends at Scouts Lookout, or they may be left at the base of Angels Landing. Truly, you need to travel as light as possible with minimal distractions.

If you feel unsure, turn around and go back down. There's another reason why this peak is called Angels Landing: it is said that 6 or more people have died in this last stretch of the trail. A fall off Angels Landing almost always result in immediate death because it is a 1000 foot fall. Always be safe, don't hike the last stretch if it is raining, wet or slipperly.

zion More Zion National Park links:
   • Visitors Center
   • Zion Mountain Carmel Tunnel (drive through)
   • Weeping Rock trail (easy, 15 minute)
   • Zion Riverside Walk (easy, 2-mile walk)
   • Emerald Pool trail (pretty waterfalls)
   • Zion Canyon Overlook trail (panoramic view, steep drops)
   • Angels Landing trail (incredible height, dangerous drops)
   • map of Zion Canyon area

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