Trail: Angels Landing
Location: Zion National Park
Difficulty: Strenuous uphill hike and sheer exposure at the top
Average time: 4–5 hours
Total elevation: 1488 feet
Family-friendly: Families do this hike all of the time; however, children need to be supervised towards the top where there is exposure to sheer drop-offs. Some choose to turn around at Scout Lookout, located just before the exposed portion of the hike but still offering magnificent views.
To the west entrance
From Interstate 15, take exit 16 if you’re driving from St. George or exit 20 if you’re coming from Cedar City. Drive to La Verkin, and turn onto State Route 9 toward Zion National Park.
To the east entrance
Follow U.S. Route 89 to Mount Carmel Junction. Take State Route 9 to the east park entrance.
Take the park shuttle to the Grotto Picnic area.
The trail: From the Grotto Picnic area, cross the road and walk toward the footbridge that crosses the Virgin River. Turn right onto the trail. The first part of the trail is a steep grade in the sun. Starting this hike early during hot summer months is a good idea.
After approximately a mile, you will reach Refrigerator Canyon, where you will receive a nice break from the sun. As its name suggests, it is nice and cool in the canyon. This part of the trail continues on a path that lies between Angels Landing and Cathedral Mountain.
Soon you will reach a stretch of the path known as “Walter’s Wiggles,” a set of 21 switchbacks named after a superintendent that helped engineer this section of the trail. The “Wiggles” allow you to traverse up the steep sandstone landscape and will lead you to Scout Lookout.
Scout Lookout offers marvelous views and a nice resting place. Some choose to turn around here to avoid hiking the exposed part of the trail. However, if you are continuing on, this is a good place to gather your group — especially children — and go over some rules for the last part of the trek: Stay on the trail, hold the chains when available, and no horseplay.
From the saddle at Scout Lookout, you will head southeast for about a half-mile up to Angels Landing. There is a 1200-foot drop on one side and an 800-foot drop on the other side of the sheer, sandstone ridge. Be careful and hold onto the chains provided for safety. Take your time and enjoy the views along the way. Soon you will reach one of the most majestic vistas in the world.
Head back the way you came to return.
If you leave late in the day during shuttle season, make sure that you make it back to the Grotto Picnic area before the last shuttle leaves for the evening. You can check the shuttle schedule here.
As always, pack a camera, plenty of water, and snacks. You can hike Angels Landing any time of year, but be aware of weather conditions. Check NOAA.gov for current weather conditions and avoid hiking to the top when thunderstorms are likely.