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Zion National Park – Hiking Angel’s Landing & The Narrows

hiking the angels landing trail

Hiking Zion National Park: Angel’s Landing Trail & The Narrows

hiking angels landing trail in zion national park, utah

  • Hike Location – Zion National Park
  • Land Administration – National Park
  • Hike Type – Point to Point
  • Fees & Permits – $20/person per 7 days, $35/vehicle 7 days, or $80/year annual pass to ALL national parks
  • Length Of Time Hiked – 5-6 hours total
  • Miles Hiked – 6.78 miles @ Angels Landing, 5.6+ miles @ The Narrows = 12.38 total
  • Route Difficulty – 5
  • Scenic Beauty – 9.5
  • Solitude – 0

Video: Hiking Zion National Park: Angel’s Landing Trail & The Narrows

Map For Hiking Angel’s Landing & The Narrows

Here’s the caltopo map of the Angela Landing Trail and The Narrows hike:

Download GPX file for the Angel’s Landing Trail & The Narrows Hike

Pre-Hike Planning Notes

Zion is a madhouse. If you are used to visiting National Parks, the sheer amount of people here and the quasi-Disney World vibe may be normal to you. It can be a bit overwhelming if you are used to avoiding the crowds, visiting places like BLM land and Wilderness areas. But this is Zion, remember? Zion!

Here’s the deal: you can’t drive in Zion. Huh? Yeah, crazy, I know. The visitation to this park is so high now that they have visitors park their cars outside of the park itself, and take shuttle buses into the park. Well, you CAN drive through part of the park, but public access ends at the Canyon Junction. Visitors must either take the shuttle up the canyon or go on foot, bike, or horseback. This is supposed to help reduce traffic congestion. So, you have to find a place to park outside of Zion. Fine. Where? There are a few stores that allow you to park on their property if you buy $20 worth of items from the shop. For many, you were likely going to spend $20 somewhere, so might as well get a parking space out of the deal. There are other paid parking lots and spaces throughout the town of Springdale.

Now you walk or take a shuttle bus to get to the entrance of Zion National Park. This is a free shuttle. Here, you will need to purchase your entrance pass, if you don’t already have an annual interagency pass. Then, you wait in line to get another shuttle bus that takes you into the park. This shuttle is also free. Buses come every 10-15 minutes.

Shuttle stop map of Zion National Park

Once in the park, the shuttle bus drives around and makes stops at 9 preset locations. Get off at the stop you wish to explore. When you are done at that location, you can hop back on the shuttle which will take you to any of the other stops along the shuttle route.

There are not many dispersed camping opportunities outside of Zion National Park and the surrounding communities of Springdale, Rockville, Grafton and Virgin. However, we did find a suitable spot for my camper van along Kolob Terrace Rd a few miles before the Zion park entrance.

When I hiked Angel’s Landing in 2021, there was no permit needed. Now, new for 2022, a permit is needed to hike Angel’s Landing. It’s a lottery system, with a seasonal and “day before” lottery. It costs $6 to enter the lottery. Read more on this here: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/angels-landing-hiking-permits.htm

 

Hiking The Angel’s Landing Trail

We rode the Zion shuttle bus into the park and stopped at The Grotto, stop #6. Angel’s Landing Trailhead is across the street from the shuttle parking lot.

hiler's view of angels landing from below

First view of Angel’s Landing

Zion Canyon

We walk across a bridge that spans the Virgin River. It’s late August, and the flow is quite low. On the other side of the bridge is a paved pathway. Paved! Only the finest for the Angel’s Landing Trail. There are many other people hiking in both directions. The view quickly opens up to a view of Angel’s Landing’s sheer south side. Impressive.

hiking the switchbacks on the angel's landing trail

Switchbacks begin here

hiking to angels landing zion national park

Easy hiking on the paved path and gentle grade

The pathway leads us to the base of a sheer rock wall, which would be pretty much impossible if it weren’t for the switchbacks cut through it. The mad-made path snakes it’s way up the rock wall at a very easy-to-hike grade.

hiking refrigerator canyon zion national park

Refrigerator Canyon

At the top of the climb, we enter Refrigerator Canyon. Here, the trail runs through a deep and very straight canyon for a half mile. Then, another set of switchbacks begin.

view of zion canyon from angels landing trail

hiking angels landing trail in zion national park, utah

hiking the angels landing trail

The route up Angel’s Landing

After climbing the switchbacks, we reach Scout Lookout. A ton of people are gathered here; resting, or perhaps, not going any farther. The views are excellent, overlooking Zion Canyon, the Virgin River and a 360 degree view of incredibly beautiful mountains. Along with the deeply carved canyons, the color of the mountains in Zion is what makes them unique. They seem to display a rainbow of colors, from red, orange and pink to white and green.

hiking angels landing trail on the knife edge

The “knife edge” section of the Angel’s Landing Trail

zion canyon view from angels landing

View over Zion Canyon

Scout Lookout is basically the saddle along the ridgeline before the big ascent to the top. The perspective here, the angle at which you see Angel’s Landing from, is truly incredible. Everything about it is attractive; the sheer rockface, the knife edge, the backdrop, everything.

hiking the kife edge narrow section of angels landing

The knife edge section

angels landing knife edge

view of the final ascent to angel's landing

Final push to the summit of Angel’s Landing

Now the trail gets funneled down to an occasional knife edge. There’s a chain to hold onto along the way, if needed. Even on this thin knife edge, there are still trees growing from the rocks, eeking out an existence here. Remarkable.

on the summit of angel's landing, zion national park

Angel’s Landing Summit

Angel’s landing summit view

The summit of Angel’s Landing is a broad, flat top. Many people are congregated here. The views are excellent, and this is the obvious spot for a lunch break. Great views of Zion Canyon. It’s a bit of a shame to have such a beautiful place marred by the existence of the road through Zion Canyon though. The buses can be see and heard pretty much non-stop from Angel’s Landing.

After 20 minutes at the top of Angel’s Landing, we start the descent down. We make good time going down, following the same trail back to the trailhead at The Grotto.

 

Hiking The Narrows

Leaving The Grotto at shuttle stop #6, we ride the shuttle to stop #9, The Temple of Sinawava. It’s early afternoon now, and it’s a Saturday… there are a lot of people here, seemingly even more than Angel’s Landing. Many people have these special water shoes on, the kind the tourist companies rent. Save your money, these are not needed here. Just wear your normal hiking shoes in the water (you wear trail runners, right??), and a pair of gaiters helps keep the debris out of your shoes.

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

Hiking The Narrows

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

The canyon, well, narrows…

It’s a short walk from the shuttle stop down to the Virgin River. Zion Canyon begins to narrow here, and the name “The Narrows” suddenly comes to life. We take our first steps in the water, which is surprisingly a pretty comfortable temperature. There is no “trail” to follow, you simply hike upstream. Walk through water, rocks, sandbars and outcrops of dry land.

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

Waterfall down the cliff walls

Not far upstream, the canyon walls narrow considerably and the walls become “slabby”. Waterfalls pour down these slabs right into the Virgin River. That’s pretty cool.

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

Around each bend in the river, the lighting changes. Sometimes we’re in the sun, sometimes the shade. The top of the cliffs are 1,000ft above the river, more if you include the summits behind them, out of sight. It’s a stunning place to be.

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

We pass Mystery Canyon, Mountain of Mystery, and reach the junction with Orderville Canyon. It’s getting late in the afternoon, and this is where we decide to turn around and head back. We’ve hiked 2.8 miles to this point, so it should be 5.6 total round trip.

hiking the narrows at zion national park through the virgin river

Hiking The Narrows was cool, but crowded. Too crowded. It makes me want to explore some of the lesser visited parts of the park if and when I make it back to Zion.


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