Hi friends, welcome back! I’ve got part two of new series about my trip out west with my mom and sisters. I first shared about our time in Valley of Fire State Park, and today I’m taking you up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park. This hike is a bucket list hike and incredibly popular, so to maintain everyone’s safety, you need a permit to hike it. We all entered the national park lottery and won four permits to hike Angels Landing on a Saturday before 9am. If you hike without a permit, you will be ticketed and fined by the park rangers. When we went, I saw three people get fined, and the fine can depend on how cooperative you are with the ranger. The rangers check your pass before you hike, but if they aren’t there when you start the hike, they will check your permits on the way back. Moral of the story, be considerate and don’t hike this trail without a permit.
Angels Landing is incredibly dangerous and fourteen people have died on it since 2004. The last part of the hike up to the view point is very narrow and requires the use of chains to reach the top. After some researching, my mom and I were both very hesitant about this hike, but decided to see how we felt when we got there. Angels Landing is a total of 5.4 miles out and back and gains 1,488 feet of elevation. The chain section lasts about half a mile and is 500 feet of elevation.
We woke up bright and early and when we got in line for the shuttle at 6:40am, and there were already quite a few people ahead of us. We made it on the first shuttle at 7am, and were on our way to the Angels Landing trailhead at stop #6 The Grotto.
We walked over the Virgin River and hiked up West Rim Trail fast because we thought we needed to be at the chains section by 9am, but we only had to be at the trailhead by then. I would take a few pictures then run to catch up with everyone. This trail was paved and in great condition, but it became very steep quite fast.
This first set of switch backs was followed by a nice flat, shaded section through Refrigerator Canyon that we could catch our breath. I like to multitask and take pictures while I catch my breath.
We turned the corner and saw these twenty-one challenging switchbacks named Walters Wiggles. They elevated my heart rate very fast! I think this was the hardest part of the trail besides the chain sections. This trail is also the way to get to Scout Lookout where you can still get an incredible view of Angels Landing without a permit.
We finally made it to the chains section up Angels Landings narrow spine, and I felt confident enough to at least try it. I put away my camera and phone and followed my sisters onwards. I was very cautious and hanging onto the chains for dear life. I made the mistake of looking down quite a bit and it made me even more nervous. I slowly made my way and climbed up what I thought was the way, but turned out to be a rest spot, and I couldn’t see my sisters anywhere. A few groups caught up to me so I slowly followed them along the trail.
I got to this exposed point and this was when I decided to turn around. I just could not fathom climbing up that open section with only the chain to save me. Both sides have a cliff that goes straight down about 1,000 feet. I trip quite a bit in my hiking boots and all I could think about was one wrong step and I’d be over the edge plummeting hundreds of feet. I asked some guys behind me to let my sisters know I turned around, and then I slowly made my way back to the start.
I took some pictures on the way back when I felt secure so you can see how intense this section of the hike was. I stopped at the rest point and got some cool views of Angels Landing.
These birds circling at the top of Angels Landing looked pretty neat.
As I was taking my break, I saw a lot of people decide this was where they were going to stop and turn around. If you have a fear of heights, this would be a totally paralyzing hike. I would only try it again if I was harnessed and knew I’d survive a stumble. My palms get a little sweaty just thinking about this section of the hike!
I made my way back safe and sound and waited for my sisters to get back. These are their pictures from the top of Angels Landing. They conquered the most challenging hike in the park, and a bucket list hike for many! The only downside of hiking this early is the shadows everywhere, but better shadows than miserable heat.
We hiked a little further up the West Rim Trail to get more great views of Angels Landing.
The way down was a lot easier, but a bit tough on the knees from the switchbacks and steep decline. The sun had made its way over the rim so we got to see a different landscape on the way down. Also at this time it was about 80*, so we were very glad we weren’t just starting the hike!
While I didn’t make it to the top of Angels Landing, I had a solid attempt! If you are afraid of heights or don’t have a permit, I’d highly recommend you hike up to Scout Lookout. That was my favorite hike in the park and my favorite views in Zion National Park. It’s very challenging, but the views are worth it! So would you attempt the chain section to get to Angels Landing?? For more information on the hike you can check out the NPS website here, including information on how to get a permit.