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Angel's Landing Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Zion National Park
Angel's Landing Trail
Angels Landing
Angel's Landing (view N from near trailhead)

Overview

This strenuous route runs up a steep paved trail for 2 miles to Scout Overlook, an overlook on the edge of the ridge that connects Angel's Landing to the rim of Zion Canyon. The route then runs another 0.5 miles up steep, exposed ledges along the narrow ridge to the summit. Chains along the exposed portions of the route provide handholds that give an illusion of safety, but this trail is not for those with a fear of heights. The views from the summit are spectacular, and this is a great hike.

Link to map.

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...a slip from many places along the trail would result in serious injury, so be careful and watch your kids (other people's kids too). The 4th-class sections on the summit ridge take some care, as a fall from there would result in certain death, but they are not difficult, and there are chains for handholds along the more-exposed sections.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this is a short hike, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Angels Landing
Cliffs and Refrigerator Canyon (view N from trail)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Zion National Park, about 3 hours northwest of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Zion National Park. From the Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 863), drive or ride the shuttle bus north on Highway 9 for about 1.3 miles to Zion Canyon Road (Site 864). Turn left onto Zion Canyon Road and drive north for about 3.3 miles to the Grotto Picnic Area (Site 865). Park here; this is the trailhead.

Angels Landing
Switchbacks through the vertical cliffs (view S)

The Hike

From the shuttle bus stop at the Grotto Picnic Area trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 1), the trail starts across the highway to the west. The trail runs west for about 0.10 miles and crosses a footbridge over the Virgin River (Wpt. 2), then turns north and follows the river upstream. The trail runs north for about 0.37 miles on a bench between the rocky hillside and the floodplain, then turns uphill (Wpt. 3) and begins switchbacking steeply up the side of canyon towards the base of the cliffs that tower above the trail. This part of the trail is fairly steep, but it is paved and easy to walk on, and there are places to stop and rest in the shade of Two-needle Pinyon and Utah Juniper trees.

Angels Landing
Refrigerator Canyon (view N)

After climbing a couple of switchbacks, the trail runs north along the base of the cliffs until the flat space for a trail runs out. The trail then begins working up the cliffside on built-up ledges and blasted-out sections of rock through the cliffs, all of which is paved. When the ledges finally give out, the trail runs steeply up and across the face of the cliff and around a corner through a gash in the cliff that was blasted out of solid rock (Wpt. 4). This section of trail is pretty exposed, especially at the corner. If the exposure gives you trouble here, don't hike past Scout Overlook.

The trail through the blasted-out section of cliff leads to the mouth of Refrigerator Canyon, where the nature of the hike changes abruptly. Up to this point, the trail has been steep, highly exposed, and hot, but now the trail runs in the bottom of a cool, deep, narrow canyon with White Firs, Velvet Ash, and Ponderosa Pine. The paved trail runs northwest along the bottom of Refrigerator Canyon for a few-hundred yards, then starts switch-backing up the eastern wall of the canyon towards the crest of the Angel's Landing ridge. At the top of this section of trail, a series of 21, short, steep switchbacks, called Walter's Wiggles (Wpt. 5), leads to the top of the ridge. The CCC did some nice stonework along here.

At the top of Walter's Wiggles, the pavement ends, and a few yards of sandy trail leads to the trail junction with the West Rim Trail (Wpt. 6). A few feet up that trail, two outhouses are tucked under the trees.

Angels Landing
Walter's Wiggles (view N, from above)

Just past the trail junction, the trail runs onto sandstone slickrock at Scout Overlook (Wpt. 7), a place with a spectacular view down the east side of Angel's Landing to the Virgin River, some 1,200 feet below. A guard rail permits safely walking out to the edge of the cliff. For many people, this is a good place to stop and enjoy the view, fight with the chipmunks for your lunch, and relax before heading back down.

From Scout Overlook, a route runs south and over a knob on the ridge where the trail crosses some steep, exposed slickrock. There is a big chain to hold onto, and the trail crew chipped steps into the rock, so it is exposed but not physically or technically difficult. Nonetheless, this is steep and exposed, so watch the children carefully.

Angels Landing
Scout Overlook (view N to Angels Landing summit)

Past the knob, the trail runs over a saddle (Wpt. 8) on the ridge where the trail is only about 2 feet wide, 1,200 feet down to the Virgin River on one side, and 800 feet down to the bottom of the canyon on the other side. There is a chain, but it is pretty airy. If there are rock climbers on the upper portion of the Angel's Landing route, this is a good place to watch them.

After the narrow saddle, the steep part starts. The route is narrow and extremely exposed, but the views are spectacular in all directions, especially back down at the trail ("Wow, I came up that!?!"). The route is amazingly steep and exposed as it winds up one side and then the other side of the ridge. There are chains at all of the really exposed sections, but there are many places where you could fall to your death.

Angels Landing
Working along the chains just past Scout Lookout

Eventually, the trail climbs one last steep section and arrives at the summit (Wpt. 9), which is a long flat ridgetop. The views from the tip of the ridge, which is slightly past the highest point, are spectacular. The tip juts out into Zion Canyon, so you get great view up and down the canyon, as well as off to the east across the canyon.

To get back to the trailhead, retrace your footprints (such as they are on the slickrock and paved trail).

Angels Landing
It is 1,200 feet down to the river on the right and 800 feet down the other side, but don't worry -- hikers can hold the chain (view north).
Angels Landing
Narrow ridge between Scout Lookout and the summit (view north).
Angels Landing
Zion Canyon (view south from Angel's Landing summit).
more to come ...

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 12S). Note: These are UTM-Zone-12 coordinates.
Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site # Location Latitude (°N) Longitude (°W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
0863 Zion Visitor Center 37.2002 112.9862 323726 4118724 3,896 Yes
0864 Highway 9 at Zion Canyon Road 37.2176 112.9736 324881 4120630 4,048 Yes
0865 Grotto Picnic Area, shuttlebus stop 37.2592 112.9502 327055 4125200 4,281 Yes

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates based on GPS data (NAD27; UTM Zone 12S). Note: These are UTM-Zone-12 coordinates.
Download GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Verified
01 Grotto Picnic Area trailhead (bus stop) 327055 4125200 4,281 Yes
02 Bridge over Virgin River 327018 4125285 4,276 GPS
03 Trail turns uphill 327117 4125829 4,353 GPS
04 Gash in the cliff 327108 4126352 4,640 GPS
05 Walter's Wiggles 327052 4127032 5,000 GPS
06 West Rim Trail junction 327111 4126950 5,291 GPS
07 Scout Overlook 327127 4126930 5,332 GPS
08 Narrow neck 327162 4126718 5,444 GPS
09 Summit 327352 4126321 5,790 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120510

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