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How To Hike Angels Landing: A Complete Guide (2024)

Wondering how to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park?  You’ve come to the right place.  This hike is one of the most popular and iconic day hikes in the United States and one of my personal all-time favorites.  You’ll have incredible overhead views of Zion Canyon and get to experience the thrill of using the chains to climb up the spine of Angel’s Landing to the final lookout point. 

I’ve completed this hike four separate times. Our most recent trip to Zion, in May 2024, was right after the National Parks Service implemented a permit process. Starting in 2024, you’ll need to have a valid permit in order to continue past Scout’s Lookout point. 

This guide will go through all the details of completing this hike, including how to increase your chances of landing a permit, what to pack on the trail, and the best times of year to do it. 

Angel’s Landing Quick Facts

  • Trailhead: The Grotto Shuttle Stop in Zion Canyon
  • Trail Type: out and back
  • Length: 5.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,488 ft
Overhead view of Zion Canyon on our way up to the top of Angel's Landing
Our view of Zion Canyon on our way up to the top of Angel’s Landing

Angel’s Landing Hike Time

So, how long does it take to hike Angel’s Landing? We tend to hike fast, so we started early and beat the crowds. We completed the hike in less than three hours. 

However, we got lucky and were able to get on the very first shuttle of the day, so we didn’t have to wait much on the chains section of the hike for descending hikers to pass.  

How long this trail will take you depends on several factors, such as the time of day (hiking in the heat will slow you down), your group size, and how many people are already on the trail.  

Expect a much slower hike time if you get a late start, as you’ll be spending a decent amount of time waiting for descending hikers to pass on the chains section. 

We recommend budgeting four to five hours to complete this hike.  

A group of hikers on the chains section of the Angel's Landing hike
The chains section can really slow you down if you start late and have to wait for descending hikers.

How Hard is the Angel’s Landing Hike?

This hike is a tough one!  It’s not incredibly long, but you’ll be ascending over 1800 feet in just 2.1 miles, so it’s steep.  And, for hikers who get nervous with heights or narrow trail sections, the chains section might really slow you down.  

The other big thing that will slow you down is if you go later in the day and you have to wait for ascending or descending hikers on the chains section to pass you.  This is why we recommend trying to catch the very first shuttle of the day. 

How to Hike Angels Landing: Step-by-Step Instructions For Getting a Permit

There are two different lotteries to hike Angel’s Landing: a seasonal lottery and a daily lottery. The National Parks Service is trialing this pilot program for 2024, and you can read more about the permit process on their website. We’ll go over each lottery in detail here.

Season Lottery

For those who like to plan ahead and want to know if you’ve won a permit in advance, the season lottery is the way to go.  Here are the steps for applying for a seasonal lottery ticket.

  1. Choose your desired hike window according to the following table. 
Table showing seasonal lottery open dates.
Image credit: NPS.gov
  1. Go to recreation.gov within the open lottery window for your desired hike date.  You will need to create an account with recreation.gov in order to apply for permits.  
  2. You can choose up to seven different day and time combinations. Be sure to enter all seven choices, as this will increase your chances of landing a permit. 
  3. You will receive an email notification on the day permits are issued, stating whether you have received one or not. Each permit is valid for up to six hikers.
  4. Make sure to print or download your permit before heading to Zion National Park, as cell service within the park is unreliable.  

Daily Lottery

For those who were unsuccessful in the seasonal lottery or are planning a last-minute trip, you’ll still be able to enter the daily lottery for a chance to win Angel’s Landing Permits.  Each daily lottery opens at 12:01 am the day before your desired hike day and closes at 3 p.m. that same day (Mountain Standard Time).  To apply, follow these steps. 

  1. Go to recreation.gov between 12:01 am and 3:00 pm Mountain Standard Time on the day before your desired hike day.   
  2. You can choose up to seven different day and time combinations. Be sure to enter all seven choices, as this will increase your chances of landing a permit. 
  3. You will receive an email notification at 4:00 pm on the day you applied notifying you if you have received a permit for the following day. 
  4. If you received a permit, make sure to print or download it before heading to Zion.   

Important Things to Know About the Permit Process

You’ll want to keep the following in mind for both the seasonal lottery permits and the daily lottery permits. 

  • Each application attempt costs $6; this is non-refundable.
  • If you are awarded a permit, you will then be charged $3 per person included in the application.  For example, if you applied for a permit for six hikers, your account will be charged $18 (in addition to the $6 application fee) if you are awarded the permit. 
  • The $3 per-person fee is refundable for the seasonal lottery ONLY, and only if you cancel at least two days in advance. It is NOT refundable for the daily lottery. 
  • The person who registered with recreation.gov and applied for the permit is the ‘permit holder.’  This person must bring a valid photo ID with them on the trail.  Park rangers will check this ID with the permit.  The other hikers do not need a photo ID, but they must be hiking with the permit holder. 
  • Any hiker without a permit must turn around at Scout’s Lookout.  Rangers can check for permits at any time after this point
  • Hike permits are awarded for three different time slots: before 9 a.m., between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., and after 12 p.m. Applying for various time slots may give you a better chance of getting a permit. However, keep in mind that starting later in the day will mean waiting for descending hikers on the chains section. 

How Early Do You Need to Start Hiking Angel’s Landing? 

We recommend starting as early as possible because the chain section of the hike is much quicker and easier to navigate if you are not trying to pass hikers on their way back down.

That said, you may be more likely to win a permit if you apply for the ‘after 12’ slot, as this is a less popular time to go.

If you can get a ‘before 9 am’ permit, we recommend trying to be on the very first shuttle of the day. This first shuttle will leave at 7 a.m. from March 3 to May 18 and from September 16 to December 1. The first shuttle leaves an hour earlier, at 6 a.m., during the peak season of May 19 to September 15th.

Line of tourists waiting to get on the Zion Canyon shuttle | How to hike angels landing
Starting mid-morning, the line to get on the shuttle will be long (an hour or more).

PRO TIP: if you REALLY want to guarantee that you’ll be the first hiker on the Angel’s Landing trail, you can always ride your bike the five miles to the Grotto Trailhead super early in the morning before the shuttle begins running.  This is what Kendall and I did when we hiked Angel’s Landing together in 2018.   

Parking for Zion National Park

There are parking lots at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, the Zion Human History Museum, and the Zion Nature Center.  These parking lots fill up fast, especially during the peak summer months. Besides Banff National Park, Zion is where we’ve had the most difficulty with parking out of any park we’ve been to.

We did this hike on Sunday, May 5th, 2024. We arrived at the park around 6:50 a.m. to catch the first shuttle at 7:00, and the parking lot was already fairly full. By the time we left the park around 11:30 a.m., the visitor’s center lot was completely full, and there were cars waiting to take our spot as soon as we pulled out. 

If the parking lot is full, you can park in the nearby town of Springdale and take their free shuttle into the park. 

Zion National Park Entrance Fee

The daily entrance fee to Zion National Park is $35 per vehicle or $20 per person.  An annual park pass is $70 and is valid for the pass holder and all passengers in a non-commercial vehicle.  

Or, you can purchase an America the Beautiful Pass for $80, which covers the entrance fees and day-use fees at all national parks.  If you frequently visit national parks, this pass is definitely the way to go.  It’s an especially good deal for us because active military and their dependents get the pass for free. 

Just remember that the America the Beautiful Pass must be purchased ahead of time; you can’t buy this one at the Zion entrance gate.  You can either purchase this pass in person at a designated pickup location or online at the USGS store

How to Use the Shuttle to Get to Angel’s Landing Trailhead

Zion National Park has a shuttle that runs from the Visitor Center to the Temple of Sinawava. The shuttle season runs from March 3 through December 1st, and during this season, no private vehicles are allowed to drive through Zion Canyon. Since this shuttle season covers all the warm-weather months, you will most likely use the shuttle to get to the Angel’s Landing trailhead. 

side view of the Zion Canyon Shuttle
The Zion Canyon Shuttle is a free service and does not require advance reservations

Here is the shuttle schedule for 2024.  Keep in mind that during the peak season of June through August, there will likely be a long line to board the first shuttle.  If you want to be on the first shuttle to the Grotto stop (Angel’s Landing Trailhead), you’ll want to arrive well before the shuttle departure time.

Zion canyon shuttle schedule
Image credit: Nps.gov

Shuttles depart every 5-10 minutes on the Zion Canyon line inside the park, so don’t stress too much if you can’t get on the first shuttle. 

Angel’s Landing Packing List

Your packing list for Angel’s landing will be the same as for any other day hike and, of course, will depend on the season.  This is what we carried with us when we hiked in May:

  • 1 Liter of water (you will want 2 Liters if you are hiking during the heat)
  • Light Jacket (especially if starting early in the morning)
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm with SPF protection
  • Snacks 
  • Trekking Poles (optional): If you do decide to bring trekking poles, we recommend leaving them at Scout’s lookout so you can have your hands free while climbing the chains.  You can then pick them back up on your way back down.  Alternatively, you could bring collapsible poles and put them inside your backpack (this is what I did).  

When to Hike Angel’s Landing

Zion National Park is open year-round.  However, trying to hike Angel’s Landing during the winter months can be dangerous and is often not possible due to snow coverage.  

We recommend hiking between late April and late October.  April, May, September, and October are the best months to visit Zion in general, as the weather is still fairly warm and the crowds are much thinner. 

group of hikers at Scout's Lookout in May
We did this hike in early May and had fantastic weather with fewer crowds.

Angel’s Landing Trail Map

Here’s the Angel’s Landing trail map provided by the National Parks Service:

Angel's Landing trail map from NPS.gov
Image credit: Nps.gov

As you can see, hikers can hike to Scout’s Lookout without a permit, but they will need a valid permit to continue on the chains section to Angel’s Landing. 

Angel’s Landing Hike Tips

Start Early

If you can, aim to be on the first shuttle of the day.  This will keep you ahead of most of the crowds on the chains section, so you’re not spending half your time waiting for other groups to pass.  And you’ll be ascending the steepest portion of the hike during the cool morning hours. 

Plan for Extra Time on the Chains/Be Patient

Although the permit process has helped reduce the number of people on the chains portion of Angel’s Landing, you will still have to wait for other groups to pass, so budget extra time for this into your schedule and be patient. 

We were on the first shuttle of the day and hiked fast, so we ended up only having to wait for ascending groups on our way back down the chains. 

Bring Trekking Poles for the First Portion of the Hike

Trekking poles can be a lifesaver on the first portion of the hike, especially if you have bad knees. This hike isn’t incredibly long, but it’s quite steep. 

If you do decide to bring poles, we recommend either temporarily leaving them at Scout’s Lookout while you hike the chains or strapping them to your backpack. I use a pair of collapsible trekking poles that I can put inside my backpack when I want my hands free. 

Hike During the Shoulder Season

Our favorite shoulder-season months are the end of April, May, September, and October. If there isn’t snow, the beginning of November can also be a great time to visit Zion. 

Get to the Visitor’s Center Well Before Your Desired Shuttle Departure Time

There will be a line to get on the shuttle, particularly in the mornings, especially during the peak season of June-August. You’ll want to keep this in mind when planning your day.  

If you show up at the Visitor Center shuttle stop right before the shuttle is scheduled to leave, there’s a chance that there will be a long line and that you’ll have to wait for the next shuttle. 

Don’t Feed the Animals

You will likely see many chipmunks along the trail and at the top of Angels Landing. Don’t feed them! This disrupts their normal behavior, and the park fines visitors caught doing so. 

Angel’s Landing Hike Step By Step

Take the Shuttle to ‘The Grotto’

You’ll get off at shuttle stop #6, ‘The Grotto, and this is where you’ll start your hike

River Access: 0.5 mile mark

The very first portion of the hike is fairly flat and runs alongside the Virgin River.  There are a few river access points along this portion of the trail. 

view of the Virgin River in Zion National Park.
You’ll walk alongside the Virgin River for the first portion of the hike.

First Steep Ascent: 0.5 mile to 1.3 mile mark

This is, in my opinion, the hardest part of the hike.  This portion of the trail is a long, steep uphill climb with long switchbacks.  

First set of switchbacks on the Angel's Landing trail.
This first set of switchbacks is, in our opinion, the hardest part of the hike.

Brief Flat Section: 1.3 mile to 1.5 mile

This is a nice rest from the uphill climb.  You’ll walk through a brief flat area.  You’ll notice a few ‘please be quiet’ signs, as this is a popular area for owls to hang out.

Walter’s Wiggles: 1.5 mile mark

This is a second set of narrow switchbacks that zigzag up the mountainside (hence the name).  Personally, I think this second set of switchbacks is a little easier than the first, but they can look daunting at first glance. 

overhead view of the second set of switchbacks on the Angel's Landing trail, also known as 'Walter's Wiggles'
The second set of narrow switchbacks, or ‘Walter’s Wiggles’

Scout’s Lookout 1.7 mile mark

This is a large, open, flat area with great overhead views of the canyon. It will be the turnaround point for those without a permit. Scout’s Lookout does have restrooms, so be sure to use them if needed before continuing. 

Group of tourists sitting on a rock at Scout's Lookout on their way to Angel's Landing.
Our hiking group taking a break at Scout’s Lookout.

Angel’s Landing Chains: 1.7 mile to 2.1 mile

This can be the most challenging part of the hike for those afraid of heights. The trail is only a few feet wide in some places. However, the chains are well placed, and we’ve always felt safe the entire time. However, I would NOT bring young children on this hike

a hiker ascending the chains section of the Angel's Landing Trail.
This chains section can be narrow in some places.

Angel’s Landing: 2.1-mile mark

You’ll have fantastic 360-degree views of Zion Canyon.  There is a large flat, rocky area that makes a great spot for sitting and eating your snack.  Just be sure to leave no trace and don’t let the animals get to your food.  

Depending on the season and the time of day, the top of Angel’s Landing can get chilly and windy; I was glad to have brought my jacket when we went at the beginning of May. 

Zion Canyon view from the top of Angel's landing.
Our canyon views from the top of Angel’s Landing

How to Hike Angel’s Landing FAQ

Is There Water Available Along the Angel’s Landing Trail?

There are no potable water sources along the Angel’s Landing Trail, so you’ll want to be sure to fill up your bottles at the Grotto shuttle stop before starting your hike. 

Can Beginners Hike Angel’s Landing?

Angel’s Landing is a challenging trail that gains over 1800 feet in just 2.1 miles. Beginner hikers may have a hard time with the steep switchbacks, and those not accustomed to heights and sheer drop-offs may have a hard time on the exposed chains portion of the hike. 

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