The first advice I can give you is to start early! I guess this would not be that important if you were hiking off-season, but in the summer, it is hot! Starting early does not only give you more manageable weather, but more time to enjoy the views on top.
The first shuttle during my trip left the Zion National Park Visitor Center at 6:00 AM. You can check the shuttle times for your trip in the Park Newspaper or Website. During the winter months, you can access the trail by car.
I arrived at Zion National Park around 5:30 AM and caught the 6:00 AM shuttle to the hike. You will take the shuttle to the 6th stop, “The Grotto”.
There are working restrooms right off the shuttle. I suggest you use them. There are no bathrooms on the 5.4 mile hike to Angels Landing. There are some “hole in the ground” bathroom stalls at Scouts Lookout. Scouts Lookout is the lookout point before the official 0.5 mile trek up to Angels Landing. However, they were “full” during my visit. 🙂
Your hike starts here:
It is already amazing, isn’t it?
As you can see, the views are amazing from the start. Zion National Park is beautiful all around. There was never a dull moment. If you look towards the bottom right of this photo, you can see part of the trail I had already walked.
It was not long before the switchbacks started and they did not get any easier. I am lame and pretty much had to rest after every switch back!
Some were pretty steep!
If it had been later in the day, this entire part of the hike would have been baked in the sun. Again, start early!
Long after you feel like you have had enough and can not go any further, you will reach what is referred to as Refrigerator Canyon. The trail levels out, which is a huge break, and offers some shade.
This part of the hike is a bit boring, but refreshing. However, it is not long until you are headed up again. It is time for some more switchbacks and the “Wiggles”. The “Wiggles” are a set of 21 short, steep, switchbacks. They were not fun.
I was certain I would not make it. But I did. Scout Lookout was next. This is where you may, or may not, find a bathroom. You can smell them from the top of the “Wiggles” and you will know you are close! The view from Scout Lookout is impressive. The view of the remainder of the Angels Landing trail is terrifying. I can assure you, it looks a lot taller and longer than in photos. I was a bit overwhelmed and discouraged, but I continued on.
From right below Scouts Lookout:
If you are going to continue on, be careful…
The views are spectacular from here on up. I will not lie, it was a little scary looking down at first, but it got easier.
I never felt unsafe, nor did I feel like I could fall. There was a lot more climbing and chains involved than I had originally thought, but those parts were quite fun! I did not feel like I was holding onto the chains to save my life. They were more there to help you climb in some areas. Some of the climbing was pretty challenging. While this part of the hike was very strenuous, I preferred it much more than switchbacks! There is not room in many parts for “two lanes”. You will need to keep an eye out for others coming up, or down, and wait your turn or scoot over.
You will eventually reach Angels Landing and have amazing views all around you. Chipmunks and Squirrels will climb into your back packs, and even onto you, seeking a snack, but do not feed them. I arrived at the top a little after 8:30 AM. It felt amazing up there at this time, I even got a little cold with the breeze. It was not until around 11:00 AM that it started to get hot and I noticed that the people coming up were drenched in sweat. I did not sweat at all coming up before the sun and can not mention enough how much the heat and sun changes the whole experience for the worse.
I highly recommend staying a while! Soak in the sun, the views, the nature! After all, it was a lot of work getting up there, might as well make it worth it! As the sun passes over the shadows and colors seem to change within the canyon. Pack some snacks, water, and maybe even a lunch, and stay awhile. Just remember, there are not any bathrooms.
While staying a while is a good idea, this could mean going down in the heat and sun. Going down in the heat was harder than going up in the cool morning. There were many times I am sure I suffered mild heat exhaustion, was going to throw up or pass out, or just plain not make it and have to call help.
I rested a lot. Stood in the shade any chance I got. Ate my salty snack and drank water. I had a small battery operated fan with me that I was able to wear around my neck and attach it within my back pack chest strap. I may have looked silly, but I did receive a lot of compliments about this “great idea”, and I am glad I had it!
After what seemed like a century, I finally made it back to the bottom! A river never looked so refreshing! There really is something magical about this National Park.
Angels Landing was definitely a hard hike for the inexperienced hiker. The experience was worth the sweat, the exhaustion, every bit of it. I was so sure multiple times that there was no way that I could finish the hike. The fact that I flew across the country just for this hike kept me going and I am so glad that I finished. I highly recommend this experience for anyone!
Have you survived this hike? Did it meet your expectations? I would love to know that I am not the only one who felt like they were dying due to lack of oxygen during this hike!