Hiking Angels Landing: Why you should definitely do it!

Angels Landing; known previously as the Temple of Aeolus, is a 1,488-foot tall rock formation in Zion National Park in southwestern Utah in the United States. A trail cut into solid rock in 1926 leads to the top of Angels Landing and provides views of Zion Canyon.

With 5.4 total miles round trip & 1500 foot elevation gain, Angels landing is definitely not for those scared of heights or horribly out of shape.

After doing research, we weren’t sure that we would tackle the hike due to its intense nature but that would have been a huge mistake. I watched a handful of videos, read a bunch of view points on the trail & scoured reviews on alltrails.com to determine if the “fear factor” was something that may be a little too intense for me.

I’ll admit, I was a little anxious going into it but I would do it all over again.

Here are a few tips to help you make your decision and prepare for the hike if you are up for it!

Heights & drop offs:

After my endless reading of people’s thoughts on the severity of the drop offs, I thought for sure I may have a slight panic attack on the climb up. To my surprise, I never truly felt very close to the edge. Yes there are a few spots that are pretty narrow but with focus on your feet and a firm grip on the chains, I had way more confidence than I thought. The way down was definitely scarier for me, you can see the drop offs much more clearly and the rocks are a lot more slippery on the descent.

Activity level:

People are not kidding when they say this hike is strenuous. The part that saved us is that it is only 5.4 miles round trip. Yes, ½ of those miles are a continuous up hill climb, not to mention the intense downhill on your quads, but the short distance made it doable.

For reference, we are by no means in fantastic shape. We work out a few times a week, do a hike or two and take the dogs for walk. I would say we are average.

We were winded & tired by the time we got up to the final climb but honestly, the adrenaline of scaling the side of a mountain pushed us through. My legs were definitely sore the next day and my arms were feeling it a bit as well but nothing too serious.

Route details:

What I could expect from the route is something that I could not find in great detail. Yes, there is general idea but I am a little too much of a planner and like to know exactly what I can expect. Here is our breakdown:

  • The first mile & a half is a steady up hill climb. The route is completely paved and has a handful of switch backs as you walk on the west side of the mountain.
  • You then will cut through the mountain for about .5 miles, this is (thankfully) well paved and relatively flat. It was a little bit of a tease as we thought we had hiked to the top where the chains start but we were very very wrong.
  • This is when you reach Walter’s Wiggles. A set of 21 switchbacks up a very steep hill to reach your final portion of the hike. This is, in my opinion, the hardest part physically.
  • Once you accomplish the switchbacks, you will reach a landing that you can decide to hang back if you aren’t going to tackle the chained climb.
  • As you begin the climb up the remainder of the mountain, the first part is one of the dicier sections and I felt the most at risk. There is little to grip on for your feet and the angle is pretty intense.
  • The rest of the distance requires some actual climbing and you will need to rely on your upper body strength to hurdle yourself up (especially if you are 5’4 like me!)
  • Last thing: don’t underestimate the hike down. Although it is all down hill, it will take some strength and endurance. Take some time to rest at the top, take in the views & capture that amazing shot!

Timing & Crowds:

Depending on the time of year you visit, the crowds can make a huge impact on your experience. We visited in early April, at the start of peak season. My biggest advice is get there as early as possible. The first shuttle will leave from the visitor center at 7am & the line will be long enough to fill the bus by then. We hoped to make the 7:30 bus, showed up at 7:25 & had to wait for the 7:45am bus. Our hike up was fine, not too many traffic jams but I could have done with less. The way down was a different story, we had to wait up to 10 minutes at multiple stops where it was only one way traffic. This not only made the hike last much longer, it made it much scarier as some people get a little pushy. For reference, it took us about 1.5 hours to get up to the top from the start & another 1.5 to get back down. Without the crowds the descent would have taken about half that time.

Equipment:

Lastly, what do you need to be safe? Really my only recommendation is some good shoes with grip, most likely a pair of hiking shoes. There is sand on the rock and it can become slippery in places where good traction is needed to hike yourself up rocks or stable yourself on the descent.

I love my pair of hiking boots that I have & they are really affordable. Get the details here on Amazon. Lots of cute colors too!

The most important part! The reward:

These views are just fantastic. Looking into the canyon was really something spectacular.

Happy hiking! Stay safe and have fun, you won’t regret this one!

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