Angels Landing: How to Best Prepare to Reach the Top

Holy views!

Angels Landing in Zion, UT has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember and for a good reason: breathtakingly beautiful 360 degree views of Zion National Park! Sign me up, right? These views call to thousands of people from all over the globe and each year kids and grandparents alike make their way to Zion to touch the summit.

The Danger Factor

But, isn’t it a bit dangerous? Well, yes, it can be if you aren’t smart about it. According to the National Park’s website, 7 people have died attempting this hike, so by all means do be careful when hiking this trail. However, the hike isn’t too dangerous as long as you’re diligent and prepared. I’ve made it easier for you too! Take a look at my 4 tips on how to hike Angels Landing right.

4 Tips for Angels Landing Hikers

1. Set Expectations

That’s right, know what you’re getting into before you start hiking. Here’s the skinny on what you should know before attempting this hike:

Distance: 5.2 miles (round-trip)
Difficulty level: Hard (this is what the Park states however if you’re in decent shape and aren’t too afraid of heights you will be fine).
Elevation gain: 15,000 feet
Trail Length: 2-5 hours (depending on your hiking pace and how crowded it is at that time of the year).
Best time to visit: Early spring, late fall (aim for early morning).
Trailhead: The Grotto (#6 stop on the Zion shuttle).
Secret Tip: You can also do this hike at night when no one is around for some epic night photos.

Now, if you’re a pretty active human this hike isn’t as difficult as you’d expect. The hard bit is the fact that the last leg of the trek requires you to scramble over rocks using only a chain for assistance, well, and your arms and legs – it’s actually not too bad if you focus on what you’re doing. One step at a time right? Remember thousands of people of all ages complete this hike each year. You got this!

Also, remember that this hike is quite popular and you will see hundreds of people along the hike. You will need to stop at some points to let other hikers hike down while you’re hiking up and vice versa.

2. Come prepared

Here’s what I recommend bringing on this hike:

  • Camera (keep in mind you will be scrambling over rocks so maybe leave all that extra camera gear at the campsite unless you’re fine carrying it on your back for 5 miles).
  • Sunscreen with high spf
  • Hat
  • CamelBak (you need both hands to hike/climb/hold the chains so leave your Hydro Flask at your campsite).
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand Sanitizer (thousands of people have touched the chains you will be holding on to – that’s a lot of germs).
  • Head lamp and/or flashlight (if going night hiking please be extra careful!).

3. Get Up Early

Trust me on this you’re going to want to wake up with the sun – close to 6 a.m. – and get to the earliest shuttle. The first shuttle leaves the Visitor’s Center at 7 a.m. on the dot. This hike can get super crowded if you’re not up early, which can be a bit frustrating as you’re going to have to wait on people trying to come down on the chains as you’re hiking up on them. Avoid the crowds and set that alarm.

The sun is pretty full on in Spring as well – especially the longer you wait – so try to get to the summit around 11 a.m. before it beats down and you get grumpy. 😉

4. Know Where to Eat Once You’re Done

There’s nothing quite like a long hike to work up an appetite. And after that trek you’ve definitely earned yourself a treat! Stay local and save money by eating at Cafe Soleil.

The cafe harbors local artwork and mugs and the workers have a great way of making you feel right at home.

I recommend ordering a panini and an iced dirty chai latte – they do it right.

Published by


Poet and writer with a penchant for travel.

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