Angels Landing is located in Zion National Park, Utah and is known to be one of the most dangerous hikes in the United States. The rock formation is 1,488 feet tall with the highest elevation point at 5,790 feet. It is accessible by a narrow trail where you have to hold onto chains to prevent falling off. The trail is about 5 miles roundtrip and an estimated completion time of 4-5 hours. This infamous hike is perfect for all thrill seekers out there. That being said…I knew I had to go check it out.
I wouldn’t consider myself a hiking expert or even the most in shape person out there. However, I love a challenge and new adventures. I will admit that I got a bit scared when looking at photos and videos of Angels Landing. The nights leading up to my trip, I would find myself thinking of the worst scenarios and my palms would instantly become sweaty. I kept asking myself, will it be worth it? Well, trust me…it was.
My friends and I drove from Brian Head, UT to Zion National Park on a Saturday morning at the end of October. The weather was surprisingly perfect and we were pumped. We arrived around 1:30PM, parked at the visitor center, then took a shuttle to the Grotto stop where the trail to Angels Landing begins.
The first two miles consist of a series of switchbacks, which made me realize how much I hate them. This portion of the hike is pretty strenuous; however, the path is paved making it a little easier. There is another series of 21 switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles right before reaching Scout Lookout.
Scout Lookout is a great place to rest and enjoy a spectacular view before trekking another 0.5 miles to Angels Landing. When I got to this point, I thought that the end of the hike was near. I thought to myself, oh that actually doesn’t look too bad! Boy, was I wrong. Angels Landing actually isn’t really visible from that point and we had quite a ways to go. This area is also where many make their final decision on whether they will proceed with the rest of the hike or turn around. Although still nervous, we knew we had to keep going.
Chains, narrow paths, and rocky steps are what you can expect for the next half mile. Be aware of other hikers coming in the opposite direction and also be courteous on letting them pass by. There were certain parts where I felt that it was absolutely necessary to hold on to the chains to prevent slippage and ensure you will not fall to your death. But, there were also plenty of sections where the chains are there as a precaution and I actually found it easier to use the rocks for stability.
After plenty of climbing, we finally made it to the top of Angels Landing! I can’t even describe to you how fulfilling this moment was. The views were absolutely stunning from every single direction. I stood there in awe. Also in disbelief that this was real and that I had completed such a thrilling hike. There was one area at the top with a steep decline to another section with staggered rocks, but I decided I would pass on that extra step. I could imagine myself rolling down with just one small slip. So, I stayed at the top and took advantage of all of the photo opportunities.
It actually took us about an hour and forty-five minutes to get to Angels Landing with just a quick stop at Scout Lookout. However, we rewarded ourselves with a nice break and spent over an hour at the top before venturing back down. I was extremely nervous thinking about the trip down as I imagined it’d be more difficult with the steep decline. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying it! I definitely took my time and took each step carefully.You take the exact same trail back down, which I found to be a little hard on your toes. Since the decline is so steep, I found my feet pushing forward against my shoes. We got down pretty quick and caught the shuttle back to the visitors center. Be sure to check when the last shuttle runs or else expect a four hour walk back to the car.
Angels Landing was an amazing experience. I am so proud to say that I completed it and did not let fear stand in the way. And to be completely honest, it looks a lot worse than it really is! As always, be extremely careful and aware of your surroundings. Don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with and take as many breaks as you deem necessary. The hike is strenuous and challenging, but very doable. Don’t be discouraged!