Updated: Mar 3
Picture it: you're gasping for air, your best friend is looking at you with sheer pain and terror in her face as you begin to scale a sliver-like stretch of mountain side, while grabbing a thick chain hand over hand, wondering if the metal washers holding the chain steady are ready to burst at any moment.
**Mental note: Please consult a therapist about why this experience actually did not frighten me at all...
When I first laid eyes on a photo atop Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, I have craved venturing to this place to hike, standing on that mountain overlooking Utah's most pristine wilderness. Zion National Park is located in Springdale, Utah, a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City Airport and an hour drive from St. George Regional airport. My best friend Maryann and I took the scenic route to drive to beautiful Utah coupled with my move to Austin, Texas.
Although we only spent 24-hours here, I will never say "Have A Good Summer" to Zion. It truly was an unforgettable experience, and I have about 12 other spots I am dying to see within the park. Here is my brief yet prosperous advice on the Angle's Landing hiking experience (humble brag but not really because dehydration is real, kids).
Where Do I Stay?
When a National Park is located as far out as this one, it can be challenging to find a place to lay your head. I booked our hotel stay 4 months in advance, which is really not like me at all. However, I can foresee rates spiking at peak summer months.
We absolutely loved our stay at the Majestic View Lodge in Springdale. For as moderate as the pricing was, I was highly impressed by this hotel for the value.
The Majestic View Lodge had some amazing things to offer, including large mountain-clad rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant, free coffee & water, as well as an entire convenient store that had all the necessary things for hiking. After checking in and purchasing sunscreen for the next day's hike, we headed to our room to sleep after a 9-hour drive.
The best feature of this hotel? The shuttle system is located across the street. Unless you are camping in the park (which also looks amazing), you will most likely be needing to shuttle into the park from your respective hotel. The Majestic View Lodge is stop #9 along the path to Zion and drops you off at the park's front entrance. More on shuttles further down the page, but this gives you quick access into the park!
If you are looking to stay closer or have money to burn (jealous), The Bumbleberry Inn gives off gorgeous boutique vibes, The Driftwood Lodge is breathtaking, & the Springhill Suites by Marriott looks like a magazine. Our stop on the shuttle was the furthest from these three hotels; however, we always had a seat on the bus #smallwin.
Image by NPS
When planning our trip to Zion, my first goal was to stay close to the park as we had to get on the road quickly to make it to Austin by Saturday (I highly advise against a 19-hour road trip, by the way, but that's another story). All of the hotels listed above are less than 20 minutes from the park and are easily accessible to a shuttle that will pick you up directly from your respective hotel.
When conducting my research, I also came across the National Park Service's web page, which actually had a fabulous representation of the shuttle route and the shuttle schedule. I recommend boarding the first shuttle to the park at 6:00 am if you can manage the wake-up call. We ended up waiting in line for quite some time to get into the park, visiting during the peak summer season. In a previous travel planning post, I talked about that traveling during off-seasons, if you can, is ideal!
What Do I Wear?
SUNSCREEN IS THE ANSWER.
Did you think I was going to suggest cute workout clothes? Well, you thought wrong, but I also just got this set today. A workout set would have looked much cuter than sporting what I first grabbed from my car closet.
Wear LOTS of sunscreen, my friends. I want to say, "you can't tell by these photos that I am sunburnt," but you really can if you look close enough to my arm. It seems to be the color of my first car: a cherry red Saturn Vue. Please wear 50 SPF minimum. The sun is POWERFUL, especially in the summer months, and reapply consistently.
My favorite sunscreen forever and always is Sun Bum. It smells incredible and works wonders against harmful rays. Wear a hat and lather up!
How Long is Angel's Landing?
The hike to Angel's Landing is about 5 miles round trip with a little over 5,000 ft of elevation gain. Well, let me tell you, I have done 13-mile hikes that feel like a 'light walk' compared to Angel's Landing. You will experience steady elevation gain the entire way up to the top. At one point, we reached a clearing and were giddy, thinking this was it. A nice passerby informed us that this was not, in fact, it. Contrarily, we were "halfway there!" to which we sighed and questioned all sanity. Do not fret, as the way back is all a downhill climb and will take you a much shorter amount of time. Allot at least 4-5 hours to enjoy the full hike.
If I could shake a photo, it would be this one of smiling Kath realizing she no longer has water for the hike down. FUN STORY, I thought Maryann was being airlifted out of Zion National Park after descending the mountain at a rapid pace, knowing that I would dehydrate if I didn't get water for us as soon as possible. Maryann finally made it back with a friendly group of travelers who lent her water and a story resembling the movie '127 Hours'.
If you have Camelback, I would recommend that plus water bottles in a hydro flask of some kind. Be a smart hiker and bring LITERS!
What is the Difficulty Level?
The hike up Angel's Landing was pretty difficult but not outlandishly impossible for an intermediate or beginner hiker. Absolutely take it slow, take breaks and listen to your body! There will definitely be switchbacks in an uphill trajectory, changes in terrain, & chains you will utilize to climb parts of the mountain as a forewarning before committing to the climb. However, the rocks are not slippery due to their geological properties (SCIENCE).
But in the same breath, always be aware of your surroundings and be kind to yourself. The reward is that you got out there and even attempted it!
Angel's Landing Packing List
I have condensed a quick and easy packing list for your trip up to Angel's Landing. Everything is readily available on Amazon!
-WATER. All the Water.
-A small backpack or camelback to store your belongings
-Trail Snacks (I have a relationship with Lara Bars which I have linked the best flavor & fruit/nut mix I make myself)
-Even more water
-A Hat (Linked my favorite hat just for ya'll!)
There are truly no words to justify this experience & I cannot wait to get back to Zion and do EVERYTHING.
Visiting Zion this summer? I would love to hear your plans!