Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to, and everyone should experience the beauty of this place at least once in their lifetime. But if you’re going to Zion to hike Angels Landing, you might want to read this before you go.
Are you guys ready for a controversial post? Here goes: I don’t believe the Angels Landing hike is worth the hype. Why? I’m going to get into it in this post, so stick around!
This blog post is divided into two different sections:
- The first section is a list of reasons why hiking Angels Landing is not the best idea and why it’s overrated.
- The second section is a list of trails that are better than Angels Landing and other great hiking alternatives in Zion.
ZION NATIONAL PARK AT A GLANCE
Before diving in, here are a few highlights for planning a trip to Zion National Park.
- Getting There: The closest airport to Zion is Harry Reid International in Las Vegas, about 3 hours from Zion Canyon. Book your flights here.
- Entrance Fee: $35/vehicle or FREE with an America the Beautiful Pass
- Where to Stay: Camp in the park, reserve a room in the Zion Lodge, or stay right outside the park in the town of Springdale.
- How to Get Around: Take the shuttle around Springdale and Zion Canyon. You’ll need to rent a personal vehicle for Kolob Canyons.
- Best Time to Visit: August – October
- How Long to Visit: 3-5 days. Here’s what to do if you only have one day in Zion.
Reasons NOT to Hike Angels Landing
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Here are some reasons why the Angels Landing hike is overrated and why it might not be a good idea to hike it.
1. It’s Way Too Crowded
If for no other reason, this is THE reason not to hike Angels Landing. It’s way too crowded.
Before the Angels Landing lottery was put into place, there would be an hour or two wait just to climb the chains. A line would form at the base of the mountain, anxious people waiting for their turn to summit the sandstone spine.
The narrow path is really only suitable for one-way traffic, so it became a safety issue to have so many people on the trail at once – hikers going up the mountain and hikers coming back down.
In a desperate attempt to alleviate the crowds, the NPS introduced a pilot permit system in 2022. Visitors now had to enter a difficult lottery system to vie for their chance at hiking this beloved trail.
Limiting the number of people scaling the Angels Landing chains helped a little bit, but the trail is still choked with people on the daily. The NPS dishes out up to a whopping 1,000 permits per day. That’s still a lot of people on that one narrow mountain!
I can only imagine how many thousands were on there each day before the Angels Landing permit system…
2. You Can Find Similar Views Elsewhere
When I was doing research for our Utah National Parks road trip, I scoured blogs for the best hikes in Zion. Specifically, I wanted info on Angels Landing because I knew it was an iconic Zion hike.
Most bloggers were passionate about Angels Landing being a great hike and convincing readers to experience this crazy hike for themselves. But then I stumbled upon a blog that casually mentioned that you can “find similar views elsewhere in the park…without the danger and without the crowds found on Angels Landing.”
What?! Sign me up!
There are two trails, which I’ll mention later in this post, that provide comparable, if not better views than those offered atop Angels Landing! And you can get these views without feeling like one gust of wind is going to hurtle you off the side of a mountain.
3. The West Rim Trail “Looks Down on Angels Landing”
Angels Landing hikers start out on the West Rim Trail at the Grotto trailhead. Once hikers navigate through Walter’s Wiggles and reach Scout Lookout, they’ll turn right toward the chain section to hike Angels Landing. It’s at this point that the West Rim Trail continues to the left.
Those who choose to continue on to West Rim, like we did, will get to look down on Angels Landing. You heard me right! The West Rim Trail continues up, up, up, until you can actually look down at all of the hikers scaling the chains and reaching the top of Angels Landing.
The West Rim Trail reaches a staggering 7,455 feet while Angels Landing’s summit is 5,790 feet.
Talk about superior views of Zion Canyon!
Angels Landing Elevation: 5,790 feet
West Rim Elevation: 7,455 feet
4. It’s Dangerous
Angels Landing is consistently medaling for one of the deadliest and/or most dangerous hikes in America. At least 17 people have died hiking the Angels Landing trail.
If you’re not familiar with the Angels Landing hike, basically the last half-mile of the trail, you are climbing up the spine of a steep, narrow sandstone mountain. It’s so treacherous that chains have been put in place on the ridge so that hikers can grab onto them to avoid falling 1,000+ feet to their deaths.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve hiked many “dangerous hikes,” and I love a good thrill, but I’ve never hiked a trail quite like this. Most of the danger of the Angels Landing trail is unfortunately due to the thick crowds. If we all got to scale the chains by ourselves and at our own pace, I think the death toll number and the overall danger factor would be much lower.
But alas, this hike never stood a chance after Instagram got ahold of it. Good thing there are some alternatives for safer, less crowded hikes in Zion with comparable views! I’ll mention those next!
→ READ NEXT: 7 Things to Know Before Visiting Zion National Park
Skip Angels Landing: Hike These Trails Instead
These two trails that I’m going to list have similar – if not superior – views of Zion. On your next visit to Zion National Park, you should check out these Angels Landing alternative hikes!
1. West Rim Trail
The West Rim Trail is the trail that Angels Landing hikers start out on. When the Angels Landing hikers veer to the right at Scout Lookout to begin the chained summit, West Rim hikers will continue to the left.
Those who choose to continue on to West Rim, like we did, will get to look down on Angels Landing. The West Rim Trail continues up, up, up, until you can actually look down at all of the hikers scaling the chains and reaching the top of Angels Landing.
West Rim Trail reaches a whopping 7,455 feet while Angels Landing sits at 5,790 feet. Both offer great views, but only one offered us solitude, and that was the West Rim Trail. We were the only hikers for a good two miles past Angels Landing!
Note that if you complete this entire West Rim Trail from the Grotto Trailhead to Lava Point, you’re looking at a 14.5-mile hike (one-way). You can either hike just a portion of it, get a permit to camp on one of the 9 designated campsites along the West Rim Trail, or camp at Lava Point Campground.
2. Canyon Overlook Trail
The views from the Canyon Overlook Trail are consistently compared to the views from the top of Angels Landing. But without the scary hike!
The Canyon Overlook Trail is just 1 mile out & back and gains 187 feet of elevation. Compare that to Angels Landing trail stats: 4.3 miles out & back with 1,827 feet of elevation gain.
When weighing the two options – Angels Landing and Canyon Overlook – Canyon Overlook is the safer, easier choice. You get virtually the same awe-inspiring scene of Zion’s red and cream mountains, and you don’t have to secure a permit ahead of time. Win, win.
Other Great Hikes in Zion National Park
There are plenty of other amazing hikes in Zion National Park! Angels Landing comparisons aside, these are some of the best hiking trails in Zion:
- Emerald Pools
- La Verkin Creek
So should you hike Angels Landing? The Angels Landing hike could be worth it for you if:
- You don’t mind crowds.
- You are physically fit.
- You love a good adrenaline rush.
If all of those things apply to you, by all means, go for it! Just don’t forget to snag your Angels Landing permit ahead of time. And please be careful and take this hike seriously.
And for those who don’t hike Angels Landing, don’t feel bad for not checking off this bucket list Zion hike! There are plenty of other amazing hikes with equally amazing views.
Plan Your Trip to Zion
Need help planning your trip to Zion? I’ve got many guides on the blog right now that can help you with that!
- Complete Guide to Exploring Zion National Park
- One Day in Zion National Park
- Complete Guide to Hiking the Zion Narrows
- 7 Things to Know Before Visiting Zion National Park
- Zion Vs. Bryce Canyon: Which Is Better?
Discover Your Next Adventure
Where to next? I’ve got some suggestions!
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Arches National Park
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
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