Zion National Park is known for many things. In 2021, it became the second most-visited national park, welcoming more than 5 million visitors through its gates. The park’s stunning peaks are easily recognizable among outdoor lovers. And the park offers a variety of options for exploring it, from rugged hikes to shuttle buses and accessible overlooks. But one of Zion’s most iconic features is Angels Landing. Known as one of the nation’s most beautiful trails, the hike is a big part of what draws millions of visitors to Zion lodging each year.
Dreaming of taking on this unique hike? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know, from the trail’s dangerous reputation to how to enter the lottery for a permit to hike it.
Angels Landing’s Dangerous Reputation
While the park offers plenty of family-friendly trails, Angels Landing often earns the title of one of the most dangerous trails in the U.S. The trail is 5.4-miles roundtrip, with more than 1,500 feet of elevation gain. In the middle of the summer, when most of the park’s visitors make their way to Zion, temperatures regularly reach the triple digits, and shade is rare on the trail. There’s nowhere to stop for water along the way. In the winter months, the steep, rocky surfaces may become coated in ice. And before the new lottery system was implemented to limit the number of people, the trail regularly had more than 1,000 hikers a day.
But all of this is only a small part of what’s earned the trail it’s dangerous reputation. Near the summit of the trail, hikers walk and climb narrow ridgelines, with steep drop-offs on either side, and only a metal chain handrail to hold on to. After traversing this difficult section, though, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Zion’s stretching out far below.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a safe hike on Angels Landing. However, it’s important to make sure that you’re mentally and physically prepared for this challenging hike, with the right gear for the season you’re hiking it.
Getting a Permit to Hike Angels Landing
In recent years, crowds on Angels Landing have made the trail even more dangerous. Following hours-long waits to hike the trail last year, the National Park Service implemented a new permit system in early 2022. Now, hikers looking to hike past Scouts Lookout, which marks the start of the most famous section of the trail, need a permit to do so.
Permits can be obtained by entering one of two lottery systems. The first is a Seasonal Lottery. This lottery is open four times a year, and awards permits for the following season. For instance, the last Seasonal Lottery, which was open from October 1 to October 20, awarded permits for the following season, which will run from December 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023.
Hopeful hikers can enter the lottery online by following a link on this NPS page for the lottery they’d like to enter. Each entry costs $6 but can be used to apply for permits for up to 6 people, and for up to 7 dates and times or windows of days and times that you’d like to hike the trail. If you do receive a permit in this lottery, you’ll need to pay an additional $3 per person. You can cancel your permit up to two days before your chosen date for a refund of the $3 fee.
The second lottery is the Day-before Lottery. This lottery has the same fees and rules. But instead of opening seasonally, it opens each day to award any available permits to hike Angels Landing the following day. This lottery is open daily from 12:01 a.m. and 3 p.m. MT.
Preparing for Your Hike
After getting a permit, there are a few things you’ll want to do to prepare to hike Angels Landing. First, it’s important to make sure that you’re physically prepared. Planning at least a few challenging practice hikes in the weeks and months leading up to your Zion lodging stay can help with this.
Next, pack your bag and choose your gear. You’ll want to wear hiking boots with good grip, and that you’ve broken in before your trip. Choose clothing that’s moisture-wicking. If you’re visiting in the shoulder season or winter, dress in layers that you can add or remove throughout your hike as temperatures change.
In your day pack, you’ll want to pack more water than you think you’ll need, as well as some trail snacks to help you stay fueled. A small first aid kit is also great to have on hand, as well as sunblock, a flashlight, and rain gear.
On the day of your hike, aim to catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle at least an hour before the time block on your permit, just in case delays occur.
Choosing the Best Zion Lodging for Your Visit
Planning to hike Angels Landing during your visit? Besides doing some practice hikes and packing your day bag, there’s one more thing that you can do to make sure that your hike goes smoothly. Booking the right Zion lodging can help you get a good night’s sleep before your hike, give you space to enjoy a filling breakfast before you head to the park, and make it easy to get to the park early in the day.
For these and so many other reasons, the Bungalows at Zion are one of the best Zion lodging options. We’re located just a short walk from two stops on the Springdale Shuttle loop. This makes it easy to get to the park without having to worry about moving your car or finding parking in town. Each of our private luxury Bungalows features a kitchenette with a Keurig, microwave, and mini fridge where you can stash trail snacks and breakfast items. Before and after your long hike, you’ll enjoy plenty of space to relax and unwind.
Ready to plan your first hike to Angels Landing? Book your stay at the best Zion lodging today!