The Angels Landing Hike in Zion National Park was my favorite hike of our Southwest Vacation. (I’ll have a post about our entire trip up in the next few weeks!) I heard it was difficult, and scary, and awesome. I knew I had to hike it.
Kyle and I were a little worried about the weather. It had been raining on and off all morning. After a late breakfast, we decided to wing it and headed to the park.
Zion National Park is a very popular park. We visited on a Thursday and the weather wasn’t ideal, and it was still crowded. The shuttle system makes it easier to get around, though. There is ample parking available in Springdale, Utah (the little city that you have to drive through to get to Zion), and multiple parking options in the park itself. However, I’d imagine that they fill up quickly on the weekends.
The Zion Scenic Drive is closed to most vehicles, so we parked and hopped on the shuttle. (The scenic drive starts right after the Museum, you basically have to follow the signs to the Zion Lodge. We missed it the first time… but if you hop on a shuttle, they will take you this way.) It started raining a little bit, so we stopped off at the Lodge for 20 minutes or so, and then decided to head up to The Grotto stop, which is where you go to start the Angels Landing hike.
Angels Landing Hike
I think the most important thing BEFORE you even start this hike is to have the right mindset. It’s a difficult hike. It’s 5 miles roundtrip. You will have to complete Walter’s Wiggles (a series of 20 tight switchbacks.) And the last .5 miles are climbing the ridge to the top of Angels Landing, which includes holding onto metal chains to leverage your way up.
I’d only recommend this hike to advanced hikers. This is probably not a great hike for families and definitely not a good hike for anyone who is afraid of heights.
So, I knew what to expect before we started the hike.
The hike starts off by crossing The Virgin River and following a level dirt path towards Angels Landing. I didn’t realize it at first, but you will be facing Angels Landing at the beginning of the hike. It’s pretty crazy (and awesome) to see where you will hike/climb to in the end.
The trail quickly turns into long switchbacks as you gain in elevation. We took our time and stopped off to take pictures of the amazing views.
Once you complete the first set of switchbacks, the trail evens out again, so you will be able to catch your breath for a few minutes. Then you will make your way to Walter’s Wiggles, which I actually found easier than the first set of long switchbacks. I think the most important thing is to pace yourself and take a break if you need to.
Once you complete Walter’s Wiggles, you are at the ridge, and the start of the fun and exhilarating part!
If you only complete the hike to this part, it is still 100% worth it.
Ok, so once we got to this point, I thought we reached the top. Nope. We still had .5 miles to climb to reach the actual top of Angels Landing. This is where the chains come in. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, but I didn’t think it was scary at all. The only bad part was waiting on other people.
We took our time and watched every step. It’s important to make sure your footing is secure as you climb to the top. So, we are ALMOST there, only one small section of chains left… and we start to hear thunder.
And we see a massive black cloud in the distance.
I really wanted to get to the top, but I really, really didn’t want to be at the top if it starts to storm. That’s probably the worst place to be in a storm. I also didn’t want to be climbing back down, gripping onto metal, if it started to lightning. It’s hard to predict how the storms will be out here. One minute can be clear and the next minute can be a monsoon.
So, unfortunately, we made the decision to turn back early due to the weather. I didn’t want to feel rushed heading back down, either. Thankfully, it only sprinkled on us on the way down, and the storm never came, but I wasn’t willing to risk it. (Especially after our experience hiking the Hawksbill Mountain Trail in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.)
Overall, the Angels Landing Hike was pretty amazing. It was exhilarating to reach the top! I think this is a great choice if you only have a limited amount of time to spend in Zion National Park.
It’s going to be hard to top this one.