It’s true. The drop from Angels Landing is a jaw-dropping 1,488 feet from the top to the bottom. The trail is 5 miles round trip, but the last 1/2 mile of the 2.5 mile trail up is the scary part… with chains bolted to the cliff. The rest of the hike is steep, with drop offs right off the edge of the trail, but it is well travelled and doable for anyone in average physical condition.
Most of Zion National Park is only accessible by shuttle now, and Angels Landing starts at the Grotto Trailhead. We arrived in Zion, knowing that my dear mom would be arriving the next day, and if we had any shot at doing Angels Landing before she got wind of it (fearing for her grandchildren’s lives), we better do it that first day. We had heard that you should do it early in the morning to avoid crowds and sun, but our timeframe was limited, so the 14 of us headed off on a shuttle mid-afternoon with half of the group would we have starting the next morning.
We felt so fortunate that much of the trail was in shade, and there were hardly any people on the trail. I have no idea if this was luck, or if most people don’t hike it in the evening, but for us, it was perfect!
The first two miles were lovely, and we stopped several times to check out wildlife, including lizards and two beautiful owls!
The switchbacks were indeed steep, but the trail is great.
As we reached the chains, I stayed down with the 5 kiddos as Chuck went up with the rest of the group to scout it out. You can tell the squirrels are well fed here, as the stalked us while we snacked on trail mix.
Chuck went up and down relatively quickly, and we decided to send the girls down with Patti (despite them begging to go to the top), who had enough of the chains 😉 Chuck, the boys, and I headed to the top to meet the rest of the group, who were still enjoying the view from the top.
We instructed our kids to keep at least one hand on the chains at all times. It looks truly terrifying from photos, but the cliff is solid, and the chains very useful. In the moment, none of us were scared. However, if you are afraid of heights, this is not the hike for you. We saw plenty of folks on this trail who clearly had a fear of heights, and I’m not sure why any of them would do this to themselves. Fortunately and unfortunately, none of our kids seemed to adopt this fear.
We took a few group shots at the top before heading down.
The boys were so proud to do complete what is known as one of the scariest hikes in America, and truth be told, some of the other hikes we have done were much harder with their steep, loose gravelly trails down cliffs.
The girls enjoyed their hike down with Patti and Kyle, and they look forward to the next trip to Zion so they can join us on this amazing hike!
Travel date 6/19
Additional photo credits to the Pienkowskis, Jill Heikilla, and Kim Hoff