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How to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Angels Landing is one of the most famous hikes in the world.  It dominates social media, and some people come to Zion National Park solely for this hike.

But it isn’t for everyone. 

In this article I’ll cover what you need to know if you’re thinking about hiking Angels Landing.

How to hike Angels Landing [Lottery, Hike Overview, Tips]
Honestly, watching this video will give you the best overview

The basics

To hike Angels Landing, you have to:

  • Be in good shape, as the hike is 5 miles (round-trip) and ascends many steep switchbacks over 1,500 feet. 
  • Tolerate heights, as the last (and most famous) section of the hike goes across a narrow stretch of rock with cliffs on both sides called the Hog’s Back. It’s also called “the chain section,” because it has a chain to hold on to for safety. 
  • Obtain a ticket through a lottery on recreation.gov. 

Is it safe to hike Angels Landing?

About 1,000 people hike this per day, on average, and about 1 person per year dies by falling off the ledge.

In spite of what you might see on clickbaity websites, Angels Landing is safe. The odds of falling are miniscule.

Do I need a permit or ticket?

Angels Landing is popular enough that you now need a permit or ticket to do the hike.

To learn more about the ticket process, visit the official Zion National Park Angels Landing page to learn when and how to apply.

NOTE: You only need a permit to do the “hog’s back” portion of the hike. If you do not get selected in the lottery, you can still hike to Scout Lookout (see these stages below). This provides some amazing views, but it’s still an intense hike.   

You may also want to hike to Scout Lookout if you want to get some of the experience of this hike but you’re too afraid of heights. 

Angels Landing difficulty

Although some of this hike is in a shaded portion of a canyon, most of it is exposed and the heat radiating off the canyon walls can make it even hotter.  It is not uncommon for the temperature during the day to be 90+ degrees in the summer; the greatest danger at Zion is dehydration.

You’ll be on the trail for 3-4 hours  (5 miles total) so pack the water and snacks that you need to get you through it.

Safety

Your safety is your responsibility. There are points on this hike where there are steep drop-offs on both sides of the trail and no safety rails. 

Don’t hike this when it is wet, dark, or you are under the influence of anything.

And of course, be safe when you are taking your photos!

Can you do Angels Landing and the Narrows in one day? 

Yes, it’s possible. But it’s vary rare that people do this. It would total around 10 miles of hiking in one day, much of which is slow hiking due to the water in the Narrows and the Hog’s Back on Angels Landing. 

Another issue is your Narrows gear — you’ll have to carry it with you for Angels Landing because you won’t have the time to take the shuttle back to the Visitor Center to return your gear and then back into the canyon for Angels Landing. 

If you tried this, it would probably be best to do Angels Landing first because 1) there’s more shade in the morning, and 2) your Narrows gear won’t be wet and heavy. Also, rather than carry your gear across the Hog’s Back, you can do what some people do and leave your backpack at Scout Landing and trust that no one will steal it. 

Then eat lunch at the Zion Lodge before doing the Narrows and enjoying the cool water and the heavily shaded canyon.

Is there anything else to do in Zion if I don’t want to hike Angels Landing?

You don’t have to do this hike to enjoy Zion. We’ve only done it a few times.

In fact, contrary to what you’ll see on social media, the VAST majority of people who visit the park do not hike angels landing. Less than 1% of visitors do Angels Landing.

Zion is still worth visiting for two days even if you don’t get selected in the Angles Landing lottery. It will just give you an excuse to make a return visit, which you’ll want to do anyway. 

See our Zion Trip Planner page for more things to do in this insanely cool park!

The Complete STEP-BY-STEP Guide to Angels Landing in Zion National Park
We go into more detail on each stage of the hike in this video!

Each stage of Angels Landing

1. Shuttle stop #6: The Grotto

To access Angel’s Landing, catch the shuttle to stop #6, “The Grotto.”

Hit the restroom and fill up your water bottle. There are also outhouses at the top, before you begin “the chain section/hog’s back.”   

2. Gradual Ascent

Cross the bridge and follow the signs up the canyon. You’ll see plenty of others doing the same. The trail is paved, well-marked, and well-traveled.  It’s a gradual climb. 

3. Intense Switchbacks

Some people mistakenly refer to this section as “Walter’s Wiggles,” but as far as I know, this section doesn’t have a name. They are fairly difficult switchbacks, depending on your level of ability. 

4. Refrigerator Canyon

This is named because this section is shaded and cooler. It’s a gradual incline and a nice reprieve from the switchbacks. Don’t worry, more switchbacks ahead!

5. Walter’s Wiggles

These are the famous switchbacks! Each one is short, but there are many of them! You’ll ascend 250 feet in 21 switchbacks

6. Scout Lookout

This is a large area where people gather to catch their breath, use the outhouses, and take in some views before beginning the climb up hog’s back. 

7. Hog’s Back

When you begin the 1/2 mile ascent up the Hog’s back, there are chains bolted into the rock and it is one-way traffic. Be patient and expect this portion of the hike to take a while. People are scared and you have to take turns. Enjoy the funny comments you overhear and the sense of community you feel as you all take on this challenge.

8. Angel’s Landing

You’ve arrived! The views from here look straight down Zion Canyon. Take your time to catch your breath and eat a snack before heading back down.

Is there anything else I should know?

Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites, yet still, avoid crowds. We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times! Bonus: it comes with an audio guide!

More Zion National Park Resources

ABOUT US

We’re Matt and Cheryl, and we’re in the Rockies. :) We are both teachers. Cheryl teaches special ed, and Matt teaches American history. We love the American West and the national parks. We want to help you have a great vacation on your next trip to the Rockies.

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