Hiking with Chains at Angel’s Landing

View of Zion National Park from Angel's Landing

I love hiking and climbing things. I love the thrill of adrenaline pumping activities. (And I should mention that I appreciate the shock value of sending Google images to my parents about what I’ve been up to… just to keep them on their toes.) 

Lovely campsite on the river near Zion National Park

Stella and I left Bryce Canyon to go to Zion National Park. It is one of the most visited parks in the country, and because of that, driving is prohibited to most of the best hiking spots. They operate a very efficient bus system, which cuts down on environmental impact. Props to the National Park Service for this decision. We set up camp maybe a half mile outside of the park on a beautiful little spot on the river. Stella wasn’t feeling well and decided to do laundry and rest. I thought I’d head to the Visitor’s Center and get in a short hike before sunset. We only had one night to stay in Zion, and after talking to park rangers, I decided that I wanted to hike Angel’s Landing (a hike that requires chains) and the Narrows (wet trekking through a gorge).

Angel’s Landing

Angel’s Landing is roughly a 5 mile roundtrip hike from where the shuttle will drop you off. You will walk a flat area of the rim trail before starting up an incline. About a mile in, you will have a nice shady walk through Refrigerator Canyon. It was just what I needed, as even hiking in September was so hot! Then, there’s a zig-zag up the mountain on a series of 21 short switchbacks. This will dump you out on Scout’s Lookout. There is a good view from here and if you don’t wish to hike with chains on the skinny ridge that leads to Angel’s Landing, this is still a great place to hike. I talked to people who decided to wait it out while their friends went up to Angel’s Landing and watched as several people started the ascent and turned around about 15 steps later.

Warning sign at Scout Lookout

Angel’s Landing is not for the faint of heart or for those afraid of heights. I took photos only when I had a safe, flat area to stop and pull out my camera. In some parts where you’re edging your way on a little cliff overhang while holding onto the chains, I couldn’t believe that the National Park didn’t require permits or have more signs up. At least six people have fallen to their death in the past 10 years (it could be more but I can’t remember what I was told at the Visitor’s Center) and I can see how this would happen. One little stumble or slip and you can fall down the sheer side of the ridge. I really loved this hike but there were moments where my heart was pounding, and I really had to watch my footing. Once at the top of Angel’s Landing, the views are spectacular! I sat up there for at least 30 minutes, took photos, caught site of a tarantula (the first one that is- I saw another on the way down),  and spoke with other hikers. If you’re not afraid of heights and enjoy a little adventure, then this trail is for you!




Photos from the Angel’s Landing Trail:

Hikers on the ridge

Peeking over the edge of Angel's Landing to the road and buses below

Ridge to Angel's Landing


And of course… the tarantula:


Have you hiked Angel’s Landing? Did you think it was dangerous?

11 thoughts on “Hiking with Chains at Angel’s Landing

  • I had little shivers just thinking about the height and the thought of chains being necessary. I don’t mind steep hikes that take time and kick my butt, but venturing on such a precarious path would probably stop me in my tracks O:-) That’s fair warning should we get to travel together! I have a feeling you could talk me into a few adventures, however.

    • Yeah I probably should have mentioned that it was scarier going down than going up. I was very relieved when I made it back to the lookout to begin the easy hike down :)

  • I hiked it in 2007 a couple of weeks after someone had died on the trail (and headed to Bryce after, great choice!). It was totally fine climbing up since I started out early in the morning, but it got scary coming down because the trail got more and more crowded, and when it’s just a narrow ledge, a rope, and nothing to fall back on, it’s scary…. but also kind of awesome. Did you go early? Could have also been crowded because it was mid-June.

    • Ava,

      I went in September so it was pretty quiet on the trail. I also thought about what it would be like in the summer and I can’t imagine! Zion is one of the most visited National Parks in the US and I’d hate to be on that trail with a lot of people. Glad you enjoyed it too!

  • Omg… if I did manage to hold it together for the walk (I got tingly feet just from looking that photo that points straight down), I think if I came across one of those spiders I’d freak out and probably fall off the edge anyway.

  • Ahh my hands started sweating reading your description!! I have been eyeing climbing Half Dome for a really long time, but don’t know if I can muster up the courage! It looks soo scary..

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