Angel’s Landing is consistently cited as one of the world’s most dangerous hikes. It is not hard to see why: queues, huge drops and slippery sandstone can make for a deadly combination! Yet the popularity of this hike draws a huge number of hikers each year. Of course, most hikers survive the trail but there are a few other reasons apart from death why you should consider not hiking Angel’s landing. From protecting the landscape to alternative viewpoints, you should read this before attempting Angel’s Landing hike. So, if you are not sure whether you should hike Angel’s landing or not read this post which lists 8 reasons on why you should NOT hike Angel’s Landing.
8 Reasons why you should NOT hike Angel’s Landing
- You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t want to die
- Admire Angel’s Landing from below
- Admire Angel’s Landing from above
- You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t like crowds
- You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you have too much pride
- You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t have enough water
- Footpath Erosion on Angel’s Landing
- You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t like stress
I chose not to hike Angel’s landing trail.
As an avid hiker, I had heard about the infamous Angel’s Landing trail years ago. It looked incredible and terrifying. I suffer from vertigo yet still love rock climbing and scrambling. Could I mentally complete Angel’s Landing trail? We only had two days to spend in the park so I wanted to choose the right trail. After research, the Canyon Observation point looked like the hike I wanted to do.
When we arrived in Zion for the first time in November 2019, most of the trails were shut. An unusual amount of rockfall had forced many of the Zion trails to close. The East Rim Trail to Canyon Observation point was also shut. These trail closures had forced more people to consider Angel’s Landing hike than normal. I watched YouTube videos as I was considering whether I could do Angel’s Landing. I also try to be a sustainable hiker for as much as possible – the idea of going on this popular trail went against my ethics of overtourism and footpath erosion. Furthermore, just two days before we had arrived, a woman in her twenties had died whilst attempting Angel’s Landing hike.
As we got off at the Grotto shuttle stop, we began to climb up the West Rim trail. As we climbed, we both knew that we probably would not hike Angel’s landing. We still thought we would go and have a look at it.
Other hikers were talking about the woman’s death. I gulped as I looked at the huge orange cliffs. We raced up the West Rim trail to the start of the Angel’s landing trail. I was determined to get there before the crowds did.
When we got to Scout’s Landing at 9:30 am there were already small queues on the narrow path. I felt stressed just looking at it! I tried the first section with the chains. The drop was so far down. We stopped at the top of the first section and sat down. More and more hikers were arriving. I felt very stressed – this is not how I normally feel on a hike! Hiking makes me feel free, at peace with the world and happy. On the Angel’s landing trail my brain was panicking. I started to shake which I knew was the final straw. If I was shaking, I knew I could not safely do this trail. I would be a danger not only to myself but to others. We decided not to hike Angel’s landing.
I still had an amazing two days in Zion without hiking Angel’s landing! I am pleased that we did not hike Angel’s landing in the end. Here are 8 reasons you should consider not hiking Angel’s landing too!
8 Reasons you should not hike Angel’s Landing
You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t want to die
People have died on Angel’s Landing. Around 15 people have fallen to their deaths from Angel’s Landing. Death is a reason why you should not hike Angel’s Landing.
Angel’s Landing is a narrow arete with 1000-foot drops either side. Just one wrong step and you could fall to your death. Angel’s Landing requires a head for heights, being comfortable with scrambling and not getting stressed by the crowds or trying to overtake on narrow sections. There are many things that can go wrong from fatigue to icy weather. Whilst most people complete the Angel’s Landing hike without falling to their deaths there are safer trails in Zion to choose from! There is no guarantee that you will make it back.
You might also enjoy this safety guide to Death Valley. Every year people die in Death Valley and here are several things that can kill you in Death Valley!
If you want to be sure to make it back home after visiting Zion, don’t hike Angel’s Landing!
Safety Note: That is not to say you should not be careful on other Zion trails – deaths have been reported from the Watchman trail, 2 people have died on the East Rim trail and several canyoners have died in Zion. Always be vigilant whilst hiking.
Admire Angel’s Landing from below
You don’t need to hike on Angel’s landing to admire the incredible rocky outcrop. In fact, you don’t even need to get high to see Angel’s Landing if you don’t want to.
As you travel through the park on the shuttle bus, you will be able to see the huge orange rock jutting out of the side of the valley. To really admire it, get off at either the Grotto stop of the Big Bend stop.
From the Grotto shuttle stop walk over the bridge towards the West Rim trail and go down to the Virgin River. From there just look up and admire Angel’s Landing. No need to hike all the way to the summit to see how beautiful it is. Also, you can appreciate the sheer cliffs and be happy you are safe on the valley floor!
From the Big Bend shuttle stop you can see the entire length of the Angel’s Landing arete. Angel’s Landing creates an L-shape as it juts into Zion valley. The Big Bend stop is at the furthest tip of the L. You can see the summit in the distance and admire the whole shape of Angel’s Landing. Also, if you time your visit to Big Bend right, you can catch one of the most beautiful sunsets in Zion. Go down to the Virgin River in the late afternoon. The sun sets between the highest point on Angel’s Landing and the end of the orange outcrop. This is a much better and safer place to watch the Zion sunset from!
Angel’s Landing is beautiful. It is one of the most well-known spots in Zion and indeed Utah. Yet you don’t have to hike Angel’s Landing to admire the beautiful spot. Check out the views of Angel’s Landing from Big Bend or Grotto to appreciate the beauty of Angel’s Landing from below.
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Admire Angel’s Landing from above
If you are an avid hiker, you might enjoy the view of Angel’s Landing from above. There are two places in Zion to admire Angel’s Landing from above. Both of the Zion views will require a good hike to reach – but your efforts will be rewarded with an amazing view!
There are two great spots to admire Angel’s Landing from above. One of these is from the West Rim Trail and the other is from Canyon Observation point. There is no need to hike Angel’s Landing with these great places!
To admire Angel’s Landing from the West Rim Trail, get off at the Grotto shuttle stop. You will start your hike in the same place as the Angel’s Landing hike. The West Rim Trail is a great trail that was paved in the 80ies. You will have to tackle the infamous Walter’s Wriggles too! Once you pass them you will arrive at Scout’s viewpoint. This is where most hikers choose to start the Angel’s Landing hike or see how scary it is and turn back instead. Few, continue to head upwards on the West Rim trail. Don’t go onto Angel’s Landing, but keep following the West Rim trail instead. This is a beautiful path with far fewer people than at the start of the trail. You pass lovely wildflowers, orange as well as white cliffs, secret canyons and hardy trees. Keep going upwards and occasionally look behind you. There are several points when you can then look down onto Angel’s Landing. These spots are also great places to stop for a bite to eat. Once you have taken a few pics you can either carry on as long as you like or the white dome is a great place to turn back at. This is a much more relaxing experience than tackling Angel’s Landing trail!
If you want a proper bird’s eye view of Angel’s Landing consider hiking up to Canyon observation point. To reach Canyon Observation point, you can hike up the East Rim trail (please not this was closed as of 2019 due to rock fall) or drive to the East mesa trail. The East Rim trail is a strenuous day hike or the East mesa hike takes about 90 mins one way. Whichever trail you pick, you will be rewarded with epic views of Zion and a wonderful view of Angel’s Landing! Some argue that this viewpoint is better than the view from Angel’s Landing!
You don’t have to hike Angel’s Landing to admire the view of Zion! Canyon Observation point allows you to admire the whole of Zion including Angel’s Landing and the view from the West Rim trail lets you see Angel’s Landing from above.
You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t like crowds
Another reason you should not hike Angel’s Landing are the crowds. It can get very crowded on the Angel’s Landing trail! If you prefer your hikes crowd-free you should not hike Angel’s Landing.
As lots of the trails in Zion national park are still shut due to various rock falls hikers have fewer trails to choose from. One of the few trails that is still open is the Angel’s Landing trail (click here for up-to-date information on which trails are currently open in Zion).
Of course, Angel’s Landing’s notoriety means it is a popular trail in itself. Yet if you like hiking to escape people and just experience nature you should not hike Angel’s landing. There are no exact figures, how many people hike Angel’s landing a year. However, out of the 4.3 million people who visit Zion a year, many of them attempt Angel’s landing. This leads to queues and lots of people on a very narrow path. There are a few ways to avoid the crowds in Zion such as by visiting the lesser-known Kollab Canyon or just by continuing upwards on the West Rim trail and not going onto the Angel’s landing arete.
If you like your hikes crowd-free, you should not hike Angel’s landing.
For more crowd-free inspiration, check out our post on the Wire Pass Slot Canyon Day hike. The Wire Pass Slot Canyon Day Hike is a great alternative to the much more crowded Antelope Canyon hike.
You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you have too much Pride
Another reason you should not hike Angel’s Landing can be pride. This might seem like a strange reason but it is an important one to list.
Some of us struggle to admit defeat. I have often been on walks with my partner and if we have taken a wrong turn, often rather than just go back to the path, he insists on carrying on. Sometimes, not admitting defeat can be a great thing and makes us complete difficult tasks. On Angel’s Landing, not knowing when to turn around can be fatal.
If you feel dizzy, scared or fatigued on Angel’s Landing there is no shame in turning back. You are not admitting defeat, you are protecting yourself and other hikers on the route. There are 1000 feet drops either side of the Angel’s Landing arete. There is no room for error on here. Also, the sheer number of hikers can make for a stressful experience. I panic more in a dangerous situation when there are more people. What if they accidentally push into me? What if someone else pulls on my chain when I’m not expecting it. If you feel unsafe, it is fine to turn around and recommended. No hike is worth your life! Do not let pride stop you from staying safe.
You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t have enough water
If you do not have enough water you should not hike Angel’s landing.
Zion is a desert landscape. It gets hot! Not to mention, Angel’s Landing is a strenuous hike which requires a lot of concentration. Furthermore, the hike on the West Rim trail to the start of the Angel’s Landing hike is a good hike in itself. Therefore, you may have used more of your water supply then you realised. If you do not have at least one litre of water at the start of the Angel’s Landing trail please do not attempt the Angel’s landing hike.
You need plenty of fluids for the Angel’s landing hike. If you do not have at least 1l of water you should not hike Angel’s Landing.
Footpath Erosion on Angel’s Landing
Zion canyon has been carved out by erosion. The virgin river has helped form the beautiful landscape we see today. Yet sadly, humans can erode the landscape too at a faster rate than nature.
Footpath erosion is caused by humans not sticking to paths. When trails become wet, hikers can go onto dryer patches which makes the path wider. This wider path also becomes wet so the process repeats itself until the path is much wider than it was originally. Also, the soil can become very compact which helps streams to flow along the path rather than be absorbed by the soil. Most of the start of the West Rim trail has been paved due to the heavy foot traffic. Given the nature of the narrow arete on which hikers climb to reach the summit of Angel’s landing, it is not practical nor possible to pave this path. Also, the dry sandstone is easy to erode. This means that by hiking on this trail, we are damaging the incredible arete that is feared and respected by visitors to Zion. Let’s protect this trail by choosing lesser-known trails or well-paved ones instead.
You should not hike Angel’s Landing if you don’t like stress
If you like your hikes stress-free you should not hike Angel’s Landing!
Many of the trails in Zion were shut in 2019 due to rockfall. This meant that visitors were forced onto the few trails that were open – one of these was Angel’s Landing. A huge amount of people who had not planned to hike Angel’s Landing were now attempting it. This has led to queues on the Angel’s Landing trail. If you are impatient you may get frustrated at having to constantly overtake on a very narrow ledge. If you are slower, you may panic with the hikers overtaking and shaking the chain. As hikers, we often look to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life – queuing on a mountain side does not sound like the relaxing experience I look for on a hike! Of course, the earlier you arrive at the Angel’s landing trail the better. If you arrive early at the start of the Angel’s Landing hike, you should be able to avoid the midday crowds.
If you don’t want to be queuing on your hike you should not hike the Angel’s landing trail.
Have you been convinced NOT to hike Angel’s landing?
Would you like to hike Angel’s landing? Of course, as I am afraid of heights and prefer crowd-free hikes Angel’s landing is not my kind of hike. Yet I also think that there are many other ways to see epic views of Zion, admire Angel’s landing from afar and protect this desert landscape. It is important to consider how much water you have and how you feel on the day of your hike. I cannot stop anyone from hiking on this trail but I feel that a permit system should be put in place for this hike to prevent further deaths. A permit system like the one for Half Dome in Yosemite would protect hikers and ensure that only those who are capable could hike the trail.