A View From the Top: Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park
A hike in canyon country with exposed trails, beautiful views, and a chance of a most certain death if you make a mistake makes for a great adventure when visiting Zion National Park. The only thing more dangerous than the trail itself is the thousands of tourists that flock to the trail every year.
Formerly known as Temple of Aeolus, Angels Landing rises out of the Virgin River Valley to a height of 5,790 feet with an elevation gain of over 1500 feet. The rail starts at the Grotto Trailhead inside Zion National Park and is 2.4 miles long. The trail begins with a steep, but wide walking path that terminates at Scout Lookout. Most tourists turn around here and enjoy the views of the summit with very little risk of life or limb. Other more courageous individuals continue up the “chains” to the very top. We hiked this trail in April and the video from our climb is below:
The National Park Service formally recognizes 8 deaths that have occurred on Angels Landing, the most recent in Spring of 2018. Hikers often underestimate the steepness, iciness, or exposure level of the trail and have little options for turning around once they start the climb. Below are some tips to use to decide if you should attempt a hike up Angels Landing:
Insure that you are in good shape before attempting to hike AL- The Trail is steep, exposed, and often requires the use of yours hands to grab chains or to stabilize on nearby rocks. Being in poor fitness, i.e. not able to walk stairs without breathing heavily, will only magnify your difficulties on this trail.
Bring Plenty of Water- Zion National Park is located in the middle of the desert in Southwest Utah and temperatures during the day can reach 100F+. Bring enough water to hydrate the whole way up and back to the parking lot. Keep in mind that Zion National Park requires all visitors to park and ride a shuttle from the entrance of the park to the attractions within, so bring enough water to get you off the trail and back to your vehicle (up to 2 additional hours).
Use the Appropriate Gear- The trail to Angels Landing can be icy for several months of the year and care should be given in the quality and type of footwear that you bring. Traction aids such as YakTraks should be considered if ice is present or simply rescheduling your hike to later in the season. Wicking clothing is important during the rest of the year and a quality day pack or hydration bladder is very helpful for carrying several liters of water on the narrow trail.
Start Early in the Day- Like most trails in the National Park system, crowds of thousands of people will flock to the trailheads beginning at around 9AM. Set the alarm a little earlier, enjoy a cup of Rose Rock Coffee, and start the trail before sunrise to skip the crowds and enjoy some solitude at the top!
Angels Landing, although not overly technical is a dangerous and rewarding hike that requires a bit of thought before embarking. If you enjoyed our post, please stay a while and read about more of our adventures around the country. You can follow our travels more directly on Instagram and Facebook as well.