Zion: The complete guide to the Angels Landing hike

Angels Landing is the most famous hike in Zion National Park, about a 2½ hour drive from Las Vegas.

Despite its great popularity and spectacular views, this trail is not suitable for everyone and requires preparation.

If you're planning a western USA itinerary and you're looking for a good physical challenge, this is just the hike for you!
 

What is Angels Landing?

Several sections are quite technical, and the final one-kilometre section is not recommended for young children or anyone fearful of heights

  • Distance:  8.7 km (round-trip) 
  • Time: 4 to 5 hours 
  • Altitude: 1,765 metres
  • Elevation gain: 453 metres  
  • Level: Very difficult


Trail map


The 5 sections of the trail


#1. Grotto Trailhead

Get off the shuttle at the sixth stop, The Grotto

The trailhead is just across the river at the Grotto Picnic Area

The beginning of the trail follows the Virgin River over level terrain. Enjoy these first 200 metres, because the level of difficulty is about to increases sharply...


#2. Refrigerator Canyon

This flat, shady section is a good place to catch your breath and cool off after the long uphill climb. 


#3. Walter’s Wiggles

Walter’s Wiggles is a series of 21 switchbacks that rises steeply to the top of the ridge. 

Even the photos are dizzying…

Once you reach Scout Lookout, you will have covered 3.4 km

The view is magnificent, and some hikers decide to stop here. 

If you decide to continue on to the summit, make sure you rest a bit before tackling the final kilometre.


#4. The Spine (Hogsback)

This is the most dangerous section of the trail and what makes Angels Landing so legendary

For the last 150 metre climb, there are chains bolted into the cliff to provide handholds along the trail, which is no more than a metre wide in some places. 

With sheer 300 metre drops on either side, the final climb is as challenging mentally as it is physically

You also have to watch out for hikers coming back down by the same route.   


#5. Angels Landing Summit 

Once you reach the top, you will have spectacular views of Zion Canyon in every direction.

I can assure you that the panorama is well worth the effort you will have made to get there! 

 

Shuttle service

Zion is one of the top parks in the American West. Given its popularity and immensity, two shuttle routes exist inside the park.

From April to November, the road through the canyon is closed to private vehicles and visitors must use the free shuttle service.


:fleche: emoji Springdale Line

This shuttle runs between the town of Springdale and the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. 

It stops at 9 locations in town, including the main hotels, and starts at the Majestic View Lodge


:fleche: emoji Zion Canyon Line

The park shuttle leaves from the Visitor Center, at the southern entrance. 

You will want to get off at the sixth stop, called The Grotto.

In addition to the trailhead, you will find a picnic area, toilets and water to fill your bottles. 


:fleche: emoji Schedule

Buses run every 7-10 minutes

The service starts early in the morning and runs until the evening.

 

Practical information

  • The trail is extremely busy in high season. Arrive early in the morning!
     
  • Be sure to bring enough water for the hike and drink at least 4 litres of water during the day to avoid dehydration
     
  • Protect yourself from the sun and the heat, as temperatures can reach 43 degrees Celsius. Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing. 
     
  • Wear walking shoes, preferably with ankle support. 
     
  • Always stay on the trail.
     
  • Respect your limits. Do not attempt the final section of the trail if you don't feel up to it. While efforts have been made to improve safety on the trail, there have been 6 deaths since 2004.
     
  • Enjoy yourself and encourage your fellow hikers, as well as any others you encounter.  
     

 

Access by car and RV

If you want to do more hiking, you should focus on the southern section of the park. It is the most beautiful and most visited.

To get there, take Route UT9, which becomes the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.

If you are travelling by RV, you will have to pay an additional $15 fee to drive through the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway tunnel.

As the tunnel is not wide enough to accommodate large vehicles when both lanes are open, Rangers posted at both ends of the tunnel convert two-way tunnel traffic to one-way for larger vehicles, ensuring safe passage.

The tunnel is open to large vehicles every day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in winter, and until 8 p.m. in high season.

Vehicles over 4 metres tall or over 12 metres long are prohibited from driving through the tunnel.

If you have a rental RV, no need to worry. Rental companies do not usually offer vehicles that exceed the maximum permitted size.

 

2021 rates

Admission to Zion National Park is covered by the America The Beautiful pass.

If you don't have this pass, you will need to pay $35 per $vehicle or $20 per person if you are entering the park without a vehicle.

Don't forget the additional $15 fee if you are travelling by RV

 

And there you go!

Are you planning to do this hike during your next USA family holidays?

If you have any questions and/or comments, don't hesitate to share them below.

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