Angel’s Landing Trail Hike Planning
The Angel’s Landing Trail is one of the most iconic hikes in the park. Hikers who brave the knife-edge ridge to the viewpoint are treated to stunning 360 degree views of Zion Canyon. The first 2 miles of the trail switchback their way into the aptly named Refrigerator Canyon to the famed Walter’s Wiggles. The Wiggles are a series of 21 tight switchbacks that crawl their way up the vertical canyon wall to Scout’s Lookout. From here only the boldest of hikers hike the last half mile along the chains with precipitous drops up to 1000 feet on either side of a narrow trail. Thrill seekers from all across the globe flock to Zion Canyon to experience the place where it was once said that only angels could land. Please exercise extreme caution on this trail and wear appropriate hiking footwear.
Getting to the Angel’s Landing Trailhead
Between the months of March and December, the Zion Shuttle System provides the only access to the Angel’s Landing Trailhead. The trail can be accessed from the 6th stop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle at the Grotto Picnic Area. From the Grotto, walk from the shuttle stop to the road crossing. The trail begins across the bridge and to the right. During the winter months, when the Zion Canyon Shuttle is not in operation, you can drive directly to the parking lot at the Grotto. From the visitor center, drive 1.4 miles to the intersection of State Highway 9 and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Turn left onto Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and drive 3.3 miles to the trailhead on the right.
History of the Angel’s Landing Trail
“Only an angel could land there.” These were the words of visiting Methodist Minister Frederick Vining Fisher upon first gazing up at the soaring height of Angel’s Landing in 1916. A trail to the vista was completed in 1926, shortly after the completion of the West Rim Trail. The first park superintendent, Walter Ruesch, oversaw the painstaking work of chiseling a trail into the sheer canyon walls. The series of 21 steep switchbacks called “Walter’s Wiggles” that make the final ascent to Scout Lookout were named in honor of the superintendent. The Angel’s Landing Trail remains one of the most dramatic trails ever completed by the National Park Service. Today, thousands of people take the hair-raising hike along this narrow spine of sandstone to witness the most dramatic views in Zion National Park.
3 Best Day Hikes Near the Angel’s Landing Trail
While you are in the area, check out these other great day hikes near Angel’s Landing.
|Emerald Pools Trail||1-3 mi||50-300 ft||Easy-Moderate||Out and Back, Loop, or Thru-Hike|
|Riverside Walk Trail to Zion Narrows||2+ mi||Minimal||Easy-Moderately Strenuous||Out and Back|
|Observation Point Trail||8 mi||2000 ft||Moderately Strenuous||Out and Back|
1. Emerald Pools Trail
Whether you are looking for a short stroll for the whole family or a moderately strenuous loop hike, the Emerald Pools Trail has it all. Start at the Zion Lodge and hike the half mile trail to the beautiful falls of Lower Emerald Pools. If you’re in for a little more adventure, continue up to the top of the falls at Middle Emerald Pools. Still not satisfied? Then stair climb your way up to the sublime Upper Emerald Pools nestled at the base of sheer-walled Lady Mountain. The nearby Kayenta Trail offers the option of making this trail a loop hike. Whatever size adventure you are after, the Emerald Pools Trail is a fantastic showcase of Zion Canyon’s stunning diversity. The Emerald Pools Trail can be quite crowded later in the day, so it is best to hike this trail early.
2. Riverside Walk Trail to the Zion Narrows
The Riverside Walk Trail is the gateway to the most famous feature of Zion Canyon, the Zion Narrows. This is the canyon that all other canyons are compared to. The walls of polished Navajo Sandstone stretch nearly straight up hundreds of feet to the tree-dotted plateau rim. One thousand year old spring waters provide life-giving nourishment to ferns, grasses, and flowers in hanging gardens along the trail. The Riverside Walk is accessible for everyone, and for wheelchairs with some assistance. The mile-long paved path ends at the start of the Narrows hike. From here, hikers step into the rushing waters of the river to start their journey up canyon. Dark, narrow sections of canyon beckon hikers to explore one mysterious bend after another. All of the awe, grandeur, and mystique of Zion Canyon converge in the Narrows, making it a must-do hike on your trip to Zion.
3. Observation Point Trail
The hiking trail to Observation Point is one of the most challenging and rewarding day hikes in Zion National Park. At 8 miles round trip, your legs and lungs will certainly get a solid workout. Along the way, hikers catch sneak peaks into the alluring slot sections of Echo Canyon and the sheer walls of Cable Mountain. The trail leaves Echo Canyon and opens into the slick rock wonderland of the park’s upper east side. This hike conquers over 2000 vertical feet of solid sandstone and is chiseled into the side of the canyon walls offering dramatic views out into the main canyon. Day hiking the Observation Point Trail is a great way to enjoy some of the best views of Zion Canyon while towering 700 feet above the more popular Angel’s Landing Trail.
Maximize Your Visit to Zion National Park on a Hiking Tour
Guided day hike tours and multi-day packages allow visitors the opportunity to make the most of their time in Zion National Park and to do it hassle-free. Guided tours include gear (backpack, trekking poles, crampons in winter), meals, accommodations on multi-day tours, local transportation, and a professional Utah hiking guide. Through their knowledge, stories, and personal passion, guides can bring a place to life in a way that’s much more difficult to do on your own.
3 Nearby Backpacking Trips
Check out these top backpacking trails near the Angel’s Landing Trail.
|West Rim Trail||16-18 mi||-3400 ft||Moderately Strenuous|
|The Zion Narrows (Top Down)||15-18 mi||-1500 ft||Strenuous|
|Zion Traverse||47 mi||+4000 ft, -4500ft||Strenuous|
1. West Rim Backpacking Trip (2 days)
The West Rim Trail is the big brother to the East Rim Trail. It starts at 7900 feet and descends to the canyon floor over 3400 feet below. The beauty of the West Rim Trail is that the scenery builds into a crescendo of canyons and towers. Starting at Lava Point, hikers are treated to a grand overview of the canyon-riddled landscape of Zion National Park. The descent meanders through jaw-dropping views into the Left Fork of North Creek and the Great West Canyon. The wide, exposed trail snakes down to Scout’s Lookout to join the Angel’s Landing Trail. All the while, the whole of Zion Canyon lays at your feet. Take time on your final day to make the half mile hair-raising hike to Angel’s Landing Viewpoint.
2. Zion Narrows Backpacking Trip (2 days)
Hiking the Zion Narrows from start to finish is, hands down, the best way to experience this amazing canyon. Hikers will experience the blossoming of a canyon as the subtle forested drainage gives way to the deep, mystical narrows that Zion is known for. The trail follows the river course between ever deepening canyon walls in the cool waters of the North Fork Virgin River. Several large boulder fields, waterfalls, and log jams add a sense of extraordinary adventure to the already unbelievable hike. Backpacking through this iconic canyon allows hikers to immerse themselves in it’s full majestic beauty and mystery. Best of all, the final miles of the hike pass through the deepest, narrowest sections of the canyon. This is truly a magnificent backpacking trip, but it is very popular. Few permits are issued for this hike, and it is in high demand.
3. Zion Traverse Backpacking Trip (3-5 days)
The Zion Traverse is the mother of all backpacking trips in Zion National Park. This masterfully crafted trek strings together a series of trails from the far northwest corner of the park to the far southeastern edge. The Zion Traverse is the quintessential way to experience everything Zion National Park has to offer. Take the spur trail to Kolob Arch, the second largest arch in the world. Stroll through the quiet, forested plateaus of Zion’s West Rim. If you’ve got time and nerves of steel, take the harrowing side hike out to Angel’s Landing viewpoint. Finally, take in the rugged beauty of Zion’s East Rim as you conclude your traverse. Keep in mind that you will need to arrange a shuttle for this incredible thru-hike.
Join a Guided Zion National Park Trip
Joining a backpacking tour near Zion National Park is a worry-free, adventurous way to experience Southern Utah. With your gear, meals, local transportation, permits, and fees taken care of for you, you can travel light and focus 100% on enjoying the hiking experience, while the guide company takes care of everything else. Also, by going with local experts you’ll enjoy a greater level of safety and gain a much better understanding of the history and ecology of this remarkable region. Read more about a guided backpacking trip near Zion National Park.
When to Hike and Seasonal Considerations
The Angel’s Landing Trail is best hiked during the Spring and Fall when temperatures and crowds are more mild. Wintertime can mean ice, making the trail conditions hazardous. Conversely, daytime summer temperatures can soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. During the warmer months, it is best to get an early start when hiking the Angel’s Landing Trail. Check the weather before you go. Please be aware that this is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and one of the narrowest. Hikers are often forced to pass around one another on very narrow sections of trail near steep drops. Please be courteous and safe when hiking this trail. If you are hiking this trail later in the day, allow plenty of time for the return hike so you don’t miss the last shuttle out of the canyon.
Day Hike Permits
Permits are needed to day hike the Angel’s Landing Trail as of 2022.
Permits are required for all overnight trips in Zion National Park. Hikers can apply for permits 3 months in advance on the 5th of each month. There is a $5.00 non-refundable fee for an online calendar reservation, and there is an additional charge for a permit that is determined by the size of your group. About one third of backcountry permits can also be obtained the day before or day of a trip by walk-up only. For more information on Zion National Park’s permit system, click here.
Suggested Packing List
Day Hike Packing List
- 3-4 liters of water (more in summer)
- Salty, calorie-rich snacks
- trekking poles
- crampons (in winter)
- wide-brimmed hat
- sunscreen, sunglasses
- cotton t-shirt (spring-fall)
- non-cotton t-shirt (winter)
- rain jacket
- warm non-cotton layer
- 1st-aid kit
Backpacking Packing List
- all items listed for day hikes PLUS
- multi-day backpack
- 3-season tent
- sleeping bag
- sleeping pad
- backpacking stove and fuel
- backpacking meals
- 2-3 pairs wool socks
- extra t-shirts
Please Respect Our National Parks – Leave No Trace
We strongly recommend abiding by all Leave No Trace ethics guidelines and practices so that our national parks and public lands are preserved for the enjoyment of future generations and for the people and animals who call these places home. Simple things like packing out your trash, obeying national park rules, and respecting the peace and quiet of our national park trails is a great start. If you’re going on a backpacking trip, you can read about more about the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.