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what does it really take to hike angels landing

What Does it Really Take to Hike Angels Landing?

by | May 15, 2024

It’s been called one of the most dangerous hiking trails in the U.S. It’s also arguably one of the most famous and one of the most popular. 

Hundreds of thousands of people hike Angels Landing every year. In fact, it’s a bucket list item for many visitors to the park. But if you’re thinking about taking on Angels Landing for the first time during your stay at Zion Wildflower Resort, there are a few things that you should know. We’re not just talking about getting a permit; instead, we’re bringing you the real facts about what you’ll need to do to prepare to hike this challenging trail.

Strength and Stamina

Zion National Park is full of beginner and family-friendly trails. Many can be walked in under an hour, even accounting for time to stop and take in the sights or snap a few photos.

Angels Landing is not that kind of hike.

At 5 miles, it’s considerably longer than many of the trails more popular among new hikers, those with children along, or anyone with trouble walking long distances. But even then, it’s far from the longest trail in the park.

What sets Angels Landing apart is the climb. During that 5-mile trip, you’ll be climbing more than 1,500 feet in elevation. At times, that elevation is gradual. But as you near the top, things get steeper. Even active, healthy individuals will feel the burn just a mile or two in. 

Because of the trail’s popularity, many first time hikers don’t realize how challenging it really is. If you’re dreaming of taking on this trail, you’re going to want to do some training ahead of time to ensure that you have the stamina to make it to the top.

Balance — And No Fear of Heights

The view from the top of Angels Landing is arguably one of the best in all of the United States. But surprisingly, that isn’t the only thing that draws people to this famous trail. Instead, it’s the trail’s unique challenges, including the most famous; a narrow strip of rock that perches hikers right on the edge of a sheer cliff face, hundreds of feet above the ground.

Walking the spine, at times you’ll have just a foot of trail between you and that drop-off. And this isn’t a paved foot of trail; it’s uneven and rocky, and can at times be slick.

There are chain handrails spaced along the trail. But these can sometimes be as tough to navigate as the trail itself if you’ve never used them before. If you don’t have a good sense of balance, what was supposed to be a fun and memorable adventure could quickly turn deadly.

Good Hiking Boots    

This isn’t a trail to tackle in your favorite sneakers.

A well-fitting, high-quality pair of hiking boots is a no-brainer for anyone hiking Angels Landing, or any of Zion’s other moderate or strenuous trails. On uneven, rocky surfaces, they’ll help keep you steady and prevent rolled or sprained ankles. Smooth rock faces can be slick, even when they’re dry. The rugged rubber soles of your boots will help keep you upright, preventing dangerous slides and falls.

Make sure that hiking boots are not only on your packing list, but are something that you take the time to break in ahead of time. That way you won’t get blisters during your hike.

Water

Everyone’s hiking style is different. Some will hike quickly along the trail without many stops, eager to get to the top of the landing to see the sights, then continue on to hike a different trail or two in the same day. Others take it slower, stopping often to rest or take pictures of the stunning scenery.

If you fall into the second category, the hike to the top is likely to take you around 5 hours to complete. Even if you are in that first group of fast hikers, you’re still looking at several hours on the trail.

Add in the steep climbs, the distance you’re hiking, the elevation, and the hot sun, and you’ll see why it’s so easy to get dehydrated on the trail. Active hikers need to drink an average of 1 liter, or 32 ounces, of water for every two hours. That’s just a starting point; you know your body and its unique needs better than anyone. You might be someone who needs to drink more in order to stay hydrated and comfortable while on the trail. High temperatures can also speed up how quickly you consume your water supply.

It’s always best to pack more water than you anticipate needing. That way if you get hotter or more tired than you expected, or if you get delayed on the trail, you won’t run the risk of falling ill from dehydration.

Sunscreen

It’s no secret that much of Southern Utah is a desert. While Zion’s valleys may look lush and green, once you start to climb, any sort of shade quickly disappears. Even if you start your hike early in the day, you’re looking at spending at least a few hours under the heat of the sun.

Forgetting to pack sunscreen is a painful mistake. Be sure to choose an SPF high enough to block out the UV rays and that will stand up to sweat.

Hiking Angels Landing During Your Stay in Zion Wildflower Resort

If you’re dreaming of hiking Angels Landing during your stay at Zion Wildflower Resort, it’s important to make sure that you know exactly what you’re taking on first. Long before you enter the Seasonal Lottery to try for a permit, you should be doing some hiking in your hometown to help yourself prepare for this long, steep hike.

We’ve already covered what you need to do to physically prepare for your hike. But there are a few other things you need to know before you arrive. Click here to learn some important tips you need to know to hike Angels Landing during your visit.

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