Angels Landing in Zion National Park was on our must do list during our October 2020 trip. It is one of Zion’s iconic hikes and we were ready for it!
We awoke fairly early and started on the hike before the first bus arrived, hoping for less of a crowd. Fortunately, our hike up was not overly crowded. We did come across a lot of people coming down who had started the hike before sunrise. Some had spent the night camped somewhere beyond the landing.
Our trek started from the Grotto Trailhead right by the Zion Lodge bus stop. We continued walking to the next bus stop and crossed the road to the trail. You will find Angels Landing Trailhead just across the bridge over the Virgin River. This is the same trail that takes you to Emerald Pools. Instead, follow the trail to the right for Angel’s Landing.
The trail is pretty a easy walk until you reach the first set of switch backs going up. Even then, the trail isn’t very technical until you get close to the landing. It is just steep with many switch backs. The scenery is very beautiful and the further up you ascend the prettier it gets.
Lower Refrigerator Canyon
After the tough ascent you will enter the mouth of lower Refrigerator Canyon. The walk through this narrow canyon is easy and shaded. You will notice a definite cooling here which is refreshing after hiking up in the sun.
After the short reprieve you will reach Walter’s Wiggles. This area is a steep incline consisting of 21 switchbacks. The switchbacks, built in 1926, are basically cut into the side of the canyon.
At the top of Walter’s Wiggles you will find Scouts Landing. Scouts Landing is the last stop before ascending the chains on the way to Angels Landing. This is where many people end their trail if they do not want to climb along the chains to Angels Landing. Considering the trail was not extremely busy, it was a surprise to find Scout’s Landing crowded. We took photos and found a spot and took a rest before continuing.
Angels Landing (attempt)
We debated on whether to go to Angels Landing. The climb at the chains did not bother us. There was quite a crowd though. Our concern wasn’t necessarily because of Covid and distancing but because of the danger of so many people climbing up at once.
First Set of Chains
We decide to climb up the first set of chains and then decide if we would go further. Once we made it to the top of the first set of chains we found it even more crowded and unfortunately there were a few people rather pushy. We took some photos and chatted with some folks who had just returned from the landing. They said they had arrived over an hour earlier and it became increasingly crowded the closer they were to the landing. These young guys mentioned that this type of crowding just isn’t safe and they were glad they were on their way down and not going up.
Climbing Down the Chains
So we decided we would head back down to Scout’s Landing. Right or wrong it seemed the right decision for us. I was surprised Steve decided to head down too, which is not like him, but I was glad he did.
It was interesting trying to climb down. It is a one way chain so if people are going down then people at the bottom need to wait and the same if people are climbing up.
The people in front of us hollered down to the people below that there was no room and they needed to wait for people to climb down so there would be room for them. So the people waited and about 15 of us headed down. As we were climbing down a group of 6 or so made their way to the chains and commented that they weren’t going to wait all day so they started climbing off to the side next to us without any chains. This is exactly why I don’t like crowds at these places. I actually think this displays a total disregard for others and represents the worst display I’ve seen hiking over the years.
Back on Down
The way down was uneventful, but just in the short time where we climbed up the chains and back down, Scout’s Landing had become quite crowded. We followed the same trail back and were amazed at how many more people were on the trail. I would say this was probably one of the busiest I had seen a trail in all of my hikes, and definitely on this trip.
Steve graduated from Ohio State and is a big Buckeye fan. He was chatting with some guys about the trek down the chains and the crowds. Somehow he found out they were Ohio State Alumni so they all posed for an O H I O photo on Scout’s Landing!
Although we did not make our Zion goal to the top of Angels Landing, we still really enjoyed this hike. Regardless of the crowds and heavy traffic, it was still a beautiful hike. If we were to do it again, we would definitely get up before the sun rises and start then to avoid the crowds. Starting the hike before the shuttle buses helped reduce the crowds but not enough.
Even though we did not get to hit our Zion bucket list item of climbing Angels Landing I feel we did the best thing for us. To our knowledge no one was hurt that day climbing to the landing and we probably would have been fine. I for one though, even though I don’t mind a good adventure or crazy hike, I do not like to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
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42 thoughts on “Angels Landing in Zion”
Sounds exciting, very beautiful place! We hate crowded places and know exactly how you feel when people are rude! Thanks for sharing this adventure🥰
Thank you for reading. We are not fans of crowds but I think this is one of those places that will always be crowded!
the Ohio photo needs to be sent into the alumni magazine! and it’s a shame you ran into some rude people, takes away from the experience a bit…
He loves that Ohio Pic! I swear every trip we go on we hear “O-H! I-O” And “Go Bucks” at least once. They are everywhere! I agree, rudeness does take away a bit but thankfully it was just a few.
you gotta love the school loyalty…
Yes I do!
This is on my bucketlist! Too bad to see all the rude people on the trail…I’ve found that’s often the case at touristy type places. It’s all the people who aren’t used to hiking and have no idea (nor care to learn) about hiking etiquette! What time did you start?
I think we started around 8 am which is late for us but we had figured we would beat the buses by an hour. Guess that didn’t work for us in the long run. Different people we talked to on the trail had said they started before dawn and wore headlamps on the way up. They said it was busy at the chains at sunrise but there was a break after sunrise until just before we got there! So that would be my strategy if we went again. I also heard late afternoon is good but it is dependent on the heat. As for hiking etiquette it gets frustrating. That is why we like to find trails that aren’t as popular. Hope you get to go soon!!
As your photos show, there’s a world of beauty at every turn.
I agree! Such a beautiful park!
Sorry we missed that hike when we were there, but it would have been icy in January, so likely just as well. I do not know what it is with people who can not/will not follow the rules or proper trail etiquette. They want what they want, when they want it, damn it! It is the same on the ski hills and lifts. WE also encountered this a bit on our Jasper hikes with people trying to squeeze past on the s=narrow sections. Glad you enjoyed it anyway. Thanks for sharing Lori. Allan
I agree! I haven’t went skiing for a couple
of years but there is a lack of etiquette at times as well. Nothing worse than people
trying to get around you on high places with drop offs or squeezing by narrow sections. We still had a great time and even thinking back we have no regrets!!! Thanks for reading!!!
Gorgeous photos! a shame that some people have no respect for others.
Thank you! It is so beautiful there!
What a beautiful hike! I don’t blame you for turning around when I tbwas so crowded. Better safe than sorry especially considering it sounds like there were some inconsiderate, impatient hikers on the trail.
Normally I take it in stride but when there are steep drop offs I don’t want to chance it!!
Sorry you couldn’t make it all the way, but it sounds like you did the right thing and had a good time anyway. Glad to see you’re continuing to travel and staying safe.
This hike was back in October, would love to be traveling now but I think it’s going to be awhile!!
I love all of the gorgeous colors and textures you captured on your trip to Zion! I don’t believe I’ve been to Zion, but I’ve been to the nearby Bryce Canyon way back in the day…you and your husband are quite the adventurers; I don’t think I’d be as brave as you to attempt those chains! Thanks for sharing your travels there, and I look forward to more from you soon. 🙂
Thanks for reading and commenting! Steve and I do love adventure and can’t wait to travel again! Take care! Lori
My goodness, what a mess. Bummer that you weren’t able to make it but it looks like you got some great photos and views!
We did get some great views and in retrospect we probably would have been fine. Next time!!
An amazing place to see.
It definitely is!
We climbed it many years ago and I’m so grateful it wasn’t that crowded. That can be a dangerous hike at the best of times, so hiking it with all those people would be really risky. You made the right decision.
Thank you! We just weren’t sure what to do but decided to go the safety route!
What a beautiful place to visit. You’d think the crowds would be less in October but I guess not. The downhill climber has the right of way, so good for you to try and enforce that. If the other hikers were in that much of a hurry, then they should have started earlier 🤣
Thanks for commenting. Zion is beautiful!!
That looks like such a pretty hike! Since arriving in Las Vegas, my husband and I have barely left, but Utah’s hiking sure is tempting me. I think we would need to find a good airbnb so we can wake up in Utah and hit the trails before all the crowds you ran into.
That sounds like a great plan!! There is so much to do in Utah!!
Lovely captures and a beautiful post Lori!
We were at Zion in Nov, but we didn’t attempt Angel’s Landing. I did hike to Observation Point twice using the East Mesa Trailhead that is behind the Ponderosa Lodge. No much scenery til the last half mile, but then wow!
Zion is pretty amazing!!! So
Much to do there.
Wonderful! We were there in 2011 (wife, four kids and I) in our road trip in the US West. Unfortunately, we were evacuated due to a flash-flood emergence!… This shows me what we missed. Thank you!
Beautiful area! I bet when it floods it is pretty quick!!
Looks really amazing. Keep it up … check my travel website http://www.iamtravelgenius.com
Thanks for reading! I will check it out!
I’m have a tendency to be scared of ledges and the situation of crowds with people disregarding others is a big reason why I haven’t done this hike. Curious, did you go on the weekend or weekday? Also, aren’t buses only allowed in the park? Did you have to walk far to get to the trailhead?
We went on a weekend and that is probably the issue. I have a co worker who went the following week on a Wednesday and she said it was not very crowded! We walked about half a mile to the trailhead from our lodge room. There is a bus stop closer there but we did not have a reservation pass for it.