We finally had a chance to knock off one of the US’s true bucket list trails. Choosing to hike Zion National Park’s legendary Angels Landing in December. Going to Zion in December, especially earlier in the month, has a few advantages. With the top being the number of people in the park. Averaging in the hundreds vs thousands in the summer months. They also shut down the shuttle system and allow you to drive the Zion scenic drive which you can’t do most of the year.
So below is a video from our trip with my top tips for hiking Angels Landing in December.
Key Takeaways for Hiking Angels Landing in December:
- Secure permits and stay updated on regulations.
- Monitor the weather for safety, as snow and ice are common.
- Check the shuttle schedule for park access.
- Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds.
- Bring gloves for using chains and Microspikes for traction.
- Start before sunrise for a quieter summit experience.
- Be cautious on the descent, as it can be more perilous.
- Exercise extreme caution due to the hike’s inherent dangers and steep terrain.
Tips for Hiking Angels Landing in December – Zion National Park
Make sure you get your permits. Starting in 2022 you will need a permit to climb Angels Landing in Zion National Park. Make sure you have all the latest info by checking the Zion National Park Website Here.
Check the Weather
Check the weather at the park. Mother nature can absolutely make or break your trip. This is a dangerous hike already and the weather can make the route impassible for even experts. Snow and ice is very common in December.
Checking the Shuttle Schedule
Check the shuttle schedule. Zion is closed to cars most of the year. Forcing people to take the park shuttle system. The shuttle typically shuts down in early December through just before Christmas. Allowing you to drive the park. If the weather is good, this is the best time of year crowd wise, to explore the park.
Arrive Early to Secure Parking
Get there early. Parking in the park fills up quickly, especially at the trailhead. Remember, Zion Canyon in the National Park is incredibly small. And the East side access is currently closed.
Don’t Forget Your Gloves
Bring gloves. You are going to be using the chains a lot. And they are old, rust, and get very cold.
Pack Microspikes for Traction
Bring Microspikes. If there is ice or snow you need to have some sort of traction beyond hiking or running shoes. I recommend the Kahtoola EXOspikes. They slip in over your hiking shoes/trail runners.
Catch a Quiet Moment at the Summit
If you want some solo time at the summit, start before sunrise. Even in the winter don’t expect to have Angels Landing to yourself. But if you get there early and time it right you should get 10-20 minutes.
Safety Tip: Descending Angels Landing
Going down is more dangerous than going up. Just something to keep in mind. I slipped on the way down on a patch of snow and ice. Had a good grip and fell on my butt (you can see it in the video) but I see how it can happen.
Please be careful. This hike is extremely dangerous for more than a few reasons. The already slick rock has been polished by thousands of people that walk it every year. The easy trail up takes people from 0-100 really quickly. Oftentimes leaving people unprepared or allowing access for people that shouldn’t be there. Then there are the thousand plus foot drops on both sides… Just be safe out there and enjoy one epic hike!