Last year, 4.6 million people visited Zion National Park, and many arrived with a goal of taking a hike on the incredible and iconic Angel’s Landing trail.
Located in southwestern Utah, the Angels Landing trail is formerly known as the Temple of Aeolus, named after the Ancient Greek ruler of the winds. This site can be reached by following a well-known trail that was carved into solid rock back in 1926. The trail leads hikers to the summit offering breathtaking panoramic views of the park.
Many consider the Angel’s Landing trail one of the most dangerous in the United States, with notable sections such as Walter’s Wiggles, a challenging portion with 21 steep switchbacks, and an exposed thin trail.
Despite the danger, it is often listed as a “must-do” hike.
The best season to do the hike is spring and fall. The hike is 5.4 miles round trip and takes most people around 3 to 5 hours. The summit stands at 5,790ft and the hike covers an elevation gain of around 1500 ft.
To reach the summit of the mountain, you must cross a narrow natural bridge with a 1000 ft drop on both sides of you, with the guidance of a small metal chain.
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A number of deaths on the trail have occurred, but a variety of sources provide a wide range: anywhere from 14-30 deaths in time periods between 20 years to 100 years.
Even so, Wildland Trekking calls Angel’s landing one of the world’s most dangerous trails, and Marathon Handbook calls it the #1 most dangerous hike in the U.S. It is not recommended for children.
Crowds on the trail contribute to the danger. According to park officials data, an estimated 300,000 people hiked across Angels Landing in 2019. To ease crowding, Zion began using a permit system in 2022, and the chain section of Angels Landing is now only open to permit holders. Zion issued nearly 200,000 permits to hikers last year.
Have you been on the Angel’s Landing Trail? Do you consider it one of the most dangerous in the country? Share your experiences in the comments below.