Angels Landing is one of the most famous and breathtaking hikes in Zion National Park, Utah, but it also presents challenges and potential dangers.
Here are 15 things you should know before hiking Angels Landing:
1. Angels Landing Is a Tough Hike
Angels Landing is more than just a hike; it’s an adventure that challenges even seasoned hikers. Spanning 5.4 miles round-trip, this trail in Zion National Park boasts an elevation gain of a whopping 1,500 feet, putting your endurance and resolve to the test.
Yet, it’s not merely about the distance or the elevation. The terrain’s rugged nature, combined with the steep inclines, can make the journey feel even longer. But for those who persevere, the panoramic views from the top serve as a breathtaking testament to their effort.
2. The Pathways Are Narrow
Got a head for heights? Because the last half-mile of the Angels Landing trail will certainly test it! This section takes you along a razor-thin ridge, where the ground falls away steeply on both sides. It’s exhilarating but can be a bit of a nail-biter.
Honestly, if vertigo’s ever been an uninvited guest in your life, you might want to think twice about this bit. It’s a thrill for sure, but only if you’re genuinely comfy with heights. Otherwise, there’s no harm in enjoying the view from a safer spot and calling it a day. Safety first, right?
3. You’ll Need to White Knuckle The Chains
You know those action movie moments where the hero is clinging to a lifeline? That’s kind of how the anchored chains feel on the trickiest parts of the Angels Landing trail. They’re there to be your trusty sidekick, helping you stay balanced and safe when things get a bit hairy.
But, like any sidekick, you’ve got to trust them. Keep a firm grip, especially if the rocks are looking a tad damp or slick. Those chains are a game-changer, but only if you use them right. Wet rock? Tighten that grip and take your time. Safety’s the name of the game here.
4. The Weather Could End Your Trip
Ever tried walking on an ice rink in regular shoes? That’s how slick the Angels Landing trail can feel in wet conditions. So, before you lace up those hiking boots, do yourself a favor and give the weather forecast a quick glance. If Mother Nature’s in a rainy mood, maybe save this hike for another day.
And if there’s a hint of thunder on the horizon? Best to hit pause on this adventure. Lightning’s no joke, especially up there. A clear day doesn’t just mean better views; it means a safer trek. Remember, the mountain’s not going anywhere!
5. You’ll Need Good Footwear
You wouldn’t run a marathon in flip-flops, right? The same logic applies to Angels Landing. Those casual sneakers might be great for errands, but on this trail, they won’t cut it. What you need are sturdy hiking shoes or boots with some serious grip.
The terrain up there is uneven and can get slippery, so the right footwear is your first line of defense. Think of them as your trusty sidekick on this adventure. With the right shoes, you can focus on the views and not on avoiding a tumble.
6. You’ll Need to Bring Food and Water
Heading hiking Angels Landing? Think of it like prepping for a mini road trip, but for your feet. First rule: stay hydrated! Especially in the warmer months, you’ll want to pack plenty of water. Those mountain views are breathtaking, but there’s not a water fountain in sight up there.
And while you’re at it, stash some snacks in your backpack. A little trail mix or an energy bar can be a lifesaver when you need that extra pep in your step. Remember, it’s a hike, not a fast, so keep that energy up and enjoy every moment!
7. It’s Important to Get an Early Start
Think of Angels Landing as that exclusive morning show you don’t want to miss. Kick-off at dawn, and not only do you dodge the intense midday sun, but you also sidestep those bustling crowds. Because trust me, you don’t want to be in a traffic jam on those narrow paths, especially by the chained sections.
Starting early gives you the luxury of a cooler hike and a bit more elbow room. Imagine having those breathtaking views with fewer photo-bombers and more serene moments. It’s a win-win, right? So set that alarm and seize the trail!
8. Expect Big Crowds
So, you know how everyone flocks to that trendy cafe downtown? Angels Landing is kinda the “it” spot of Zion, drawing in hikers like bees to honey. It’s a must-see, so naturally, it gets bustling, especially when the weather’s just right during peak seasons.
If you’re someone who loves company, great! But if you’re hoping for a bit of solitude with your scenic views, you might have to plan strategically or adjust your expectations. Either way, it’s a party on the trail, and everyone’s invited! Just remember to pack a little patience along with your snacks.
9. The Local Environment Is Fragile
Hey, you know how we all have that one friend with the perfectly decorated room you’re afraid to touch? Think of Angels Landing’s environment in a similar way. It’s delicate, pristine, and every step off the trail can mess with its vibe. Those desert plants and critters have their own ecosystem groove going on.
Sticking to the trail isn’t just for your safety but also a nod of respect to Mother Nature’s artwork. Let’s keep this place as picture-perfect for the next visitor as it was for us. After all, good trail manners make every hike better for everyone!
10. Hiking Angels Landing Requires Good Fitness
Alright, let’s talk fitness. Think of Angels Landing as that intense workout class everyone’s been raving about. It’s not a walk in your neighborhood park; this trail brings the heat, especially during those uphill moments. So, having a good fitness base? Definitely a plus.
And just a heads-up: the altitude might throw a curveball to some. Ever felt a bit winded after a flight of stairs? Now imagine that feeling while you’re up high. So, before lacing up, it’s good to check in with yourself and make sure you’re up for the challenge. Your future self, catching those views from the top, will thank you!
11. Angels Landing Isn’t a Great Place for Children
Alright, parents, quick chat about the kiddos. We all love a family adventure, but that final stretch of Angels Landing? It’s kind of like the big roller coaster at the theme park – thrilling for some but may be too intense for the little ones. The path narrows, things get steep, and safety becomes a real concern.
So, while the first part of the trail might be doable with kids, you might want to rethink bringing them to the very top. Maybe make Scout Lookout your endpoint if you’re hiking with young adventurers. It still offers some pretty epic views without the nail-biting final ascent. Safety first, memories second!
12. You Need a Permit to Hike Angels Landing
So, you’re gearing up for Angels Landing? Awesome choice! But here’s the scoop: you’re going to need a permit. Yep, Zion National Park introduced a permit system for this popular trail, taking cues from their experiences in 2019, 2021, and during the whole COVID-19 shuttle ticketing thing in 2020.
Now, I know it sounds like an extra step, but it’s all for a good reason. It helps manage the crowd, ensuring the trail doesn’t get too congested and everyone can have a safer, more enjoyable experience. So, before you set out, make sure you’ve got that golden ticket – erm, I mean permit – in hand! Safety, sustainability, and awesome hikes, that’s the trifecta!
13. Alternate Routes Are Available
Hey, not every path is for every traveler, and that’s totally okay! If you’re feeling that the final ascent of Angels Landing might be a tad too spicy for your liking, there’s a fantastic alternative. Ever heard of Scout Lookout? It’s right before that nail-biting chained section and, let me tell you, the views are still 100% Insta-worthy.
So, if you reach that point and think, “Maybe this is my summit for today,” don’t sweat it. Scout Lookout still gives you a front-row seat to nature’s grand show, minus the vertigo-inducing finale. It’s all about enjoying the journey at your own pace and comfort level!
14. It Takes At Least a Half Day to Hike Angels Landing
Packing for Angels Landing? Alongside your water and snacks, be sure to pack some patience and time! Even though it’s just a 5.4-mile round trip, this isn’t your everyday jaunt in the park. With the elevation playing tricks and some seriously unique terrain, you’re looking at a few solid hours of adventuring.
Now, some folks might breeze through in half a day, while others like to savor every step, turning it into a full-day escapade. And then, there’s the summit. Believe me, once you’re up there, you might just lose track of time soaking in those views! So, plan accordingly and let the trail set your pace. No rush; it’s all about the journey!
15. It’s OK To Turn Back
You know how they say, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey?” That couldn’t be truer when hiking, especially somewhere as epic as Angels Landing. Safety should always be the star of the show. If you’re trekking and get that little voice in your head saying, “Maybe this isn’t my jam,” listen to it. There’s zero shame in doing a 180 and retracing your steps.
After all, every step on that trail is a memory in the making, whether you’re at the base or the summit. The key? Enjoy each moment, soak in those views, and always, always put your safety (and gut feelings) front and center.