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Angel’s Landing VS Observation Point | Which Hike Is Better

Observation Point in Zion National Park

Are you stuck deciding between Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point in Zion National Park?

Angel’s Landing and Observation Point are two of the most challenging, yet most spectacular hikes at Zion National Park. Both Angel’s Landing and Observation Point offer stunning views of the iconic Zion Canyon. But both hikes are unique in their own way.

If time allows, you should consider doing both hikes, but if you are short on time, we highly suggest at least choosing one. Let’s discuss the positives and negatives of Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point. This will help you choose which hike is better for YOU!

Angel’s Landing Trail

A view down the Zion National Park valley from Angel's Landing Trail which is one of the best hikes in utah
Viewpoint along Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

5 miles – 1500 ft elevation

Angel’s Landing Permit

The main outlier differing Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point, is Angel’s Landing requires a permit. Permits are offered seasonally on the first of each month for that specific season (January, April, July and October). The cost to apply is $6 per application. You can have up to 6 hikers on each permit.

For the last minute planners or for people who might not have won the lottery permits, there is also an option to apply for a permit the day before hiking. This lottery opens every day at 12:01 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. Mountain Time (MT) via

Angel’s Landing Trailhead

Once you snag a permit, the trailhead is easy to get to if you take the shuttle from the visitor center. It is located at the 6th stop of the Zion Canyon Shuttle (aka: The Grotto Trailhead).

If you didn’t snag a permit, you are still allowed to hike up to Scout Lookout.

Angel’s Landing Trail:

Angel’s Landing will make your stomach turn a few times if you like to look around when you are hiking. The first three quarters of the hike climbs steadily and has some steep switchbacks, but it’s on a crudely paved path that’s easily navigated (although steep). But It’s the final quarter of the hike where things get interesting. 

There are 1500 foot cliffs to each side as you walk along a thin, rocky spine. Along the spine is a chain that is anchored to metal posts about every 10 feet or so. This hike is about 5 miles round trip with a steep 1500 elevation change. 

Emily holding on for dear life on the trail at Angel’s Landing
Jake climbing even higher onto a mound of rocks at angel’s landing

Pros Of Angel’s Landing

You will get a 360 view at the top. Plus, this hike is only 5 miles roundtrip which is 3 miles shorter when comparing Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point. But do note, your adrenaline will be pumping the last stretch of the hike. There is a nice spot to sit and have a snack and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Cons Of Angel’s Landing:

People have died from going on this hike, so you really do have to be extra careful. But don’t let that totally scare you, if you stay in the middle, hold onto the chains and take your time, you won’t have the chance to fall. Always be aware of your surroundings, and be very deliberate with your foot and hand placement.

If you want to look around, stop in a safe place, and proceed when you’re focused. Some spots are too skinny for more than one person, so be mindful of others on the trail. 

One negative is Angel’s Landing tends to be much more crowded than Observation Point.

This hike is pretty exposed, so if you go during the middle of the day you have a higher risk of becoming dehydrated and overexposed to the sun. Just be prepared with the proper sun protection and bring at least 1 gallon of water per person. 

View from the other side of Angel’s Landing, looking up at Observation Point

Don’t do Angel’s Landing Hike if:

We don’t suggest Angel’s Landing hike if you have any fear of heights. And if you are traveling with small children it’s probably best to do a different hike as there are lots of parts that are very dangerous. Also, if you aren’t comfortable scrambling (climbing short sections with your hands and feet) this hike is not for you. Lastly, Angel’s Landing is one of the most popular hikes in the park, so if you want to stay away from the crowds, Angel’s Landing is not the best fit for you. 

Do Hike Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point if:

But if all of those don’t describe you, you should definitely hike Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point because there is a reason it is one of the most popular hike in the park. This hike is very unique! You may never have an opportunity like this one again, and it sure does feel good to say you conquered it!

Observation Point

Observation Point At Zion National Park

8 miles – 2100 ft elevation

Observation Point Permit:

Observation Point doesn’t require a permit. So when comparing Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point, you might want to resort to this one if you don’t get a permit. But Observation Point is definitely more of a challenge in length and elevation.

Observation Point Trailhead:

Getting to the trailhead for Observation Point is easy if you take the shuttle from the visitor center. The trailhead is located at the 7th stop on the Zion Canyon Shuttle (Weeping Rock Trailhead).

Observation Point Trail:

I’m going to start off by saying Observation Point is a difficult hike. This hike is 8 miles roundtrip.

You will be following switchbacks up 2100ft of elevation with little to no shade.

These switchbacks can be scary as they also have a cliff on one side of you. The trail has a man made path carved out of the canyon walls which makes it easy to walk on. 

Heading uphill through Echo Canyon towards Observation Point

Pros Of Observation Point:

When comparing Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point, Observation Point offers more of a bird’s eye view because you are higher up on the rim. 

You can look down on Angel’s Landing and see the little ant-sized humans holding on for dear life! And, you can visually see how much further up you made it in elevation. 

There is a nice place to take a break, relax and eat a snack at the top. This hike doesn’t require any scrambling which is nice when comparing Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point. 

There are a few trees you can grab shade under before you descend down. This hike is exposed at parts, it does get some shade when you go back into the canyon. On the trail you get to see a little glimpse of Echo Canyon with tall beautiful walls surrounding you.

Looking through Echo Canyon on the way back down

Cons Of Observation Point:

With the pros, come the cons. And when comparing Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point, you don’t get the same immersive 360-degree canyon view that Angel’s Landing has. This hike is very strenuous and will definitely take most of a full day.

Since you climbed up 2100 feet you must come down which can be hard on your knees.

Don’t Do Observation Point hike if:

We wouldn’t suggest Observation hike if you don’t have great endurance or aren’t up for a challenge. Also, if you have a fear of heights, this probably isn’t for you as you are climbing to the rim and are standing on the edge of the canyon wall.

Do Observation Point hike if:

Observation Point is a challenge but well worth the climb for the stunning views above. This is the hike Jake and I did first in the park and it was easily one of the most stunning sights we had ever seen.

If you don’t have a fear of heights, are willing to make the climb, we highly suggest this hike to fellow adventurers. 

Takeaway | Angel’s Landing Vs Observation Point

As I’m sure you noticed, they both offer amazing views down the canyon walls.

If you are an adrenaline junky, want a shorter hike, and not afraid of heights I would suggest Angel’s Landing.

If you want to say you’ve made it to the rim, want a longer hike and want some great exercise I would suggest Observation Point.

Ultimately, you won’t be disappointed with either hike, but if you are only there for a short time, choosing one of these amazing hikes will be enough for a great photo opportunity.

For more information on Angel’s Landing vs Observation Point, check the NPS website.

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