After months of consideration, officials at Zion National Park have officially decided to implement a system that will require a permit from all those that wish to hike the Angels Landing trail.
Beginning April 1, 2022, prospective hikers of the iconic trail will be required to enter a lottery to secure the required reservations. Park officials arrived at this decision following concerns regarding overcrowding and congestion on the trail leading to unnecessary danger and a diminished park experience.
“Angels Landing is one of the most iconic destinations in Zion National Park and issuing permits will make going there fair for everyone,” said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “The system we’ve put in place will reduce crowding on the trail, address safety concerns and make it easy for visitors to plan ahead.
This system will include two lotteries: a seasonal lottery and a day-before lottery. Entering either lottery will cost a non-refundable $6 application fee covering up to six hikers and winners will be charged an additional $3 per-hiker to lock-in their reservation which is refundable if you cancel at least two days before the hike. According to the news release, these fees will be used to manage the lotteries and assign rangers to enforce reservations.
The first of four seasonal lotteries will open Jan. 3 and will allow participants to select up to seven preferred dates to hike. The day-before lottery will begin on April 1 and will open every day at 12:01 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. Hikers will know if they have been awarded permits at 4 p.m. for the day-before lottery or on the assigned day for the seasonal lottery.
“This is a pilot program and the [National Park Service] will monitor and adjust it as needed,” read the park’s news release. “[It] reflects comments from nearly 1,000 members of the public, park neighbors and other stakeholders. It also reflects lessons NPS learned by metering the number of hikers on the trail in 2019 and 2021 and distributing tickets to use the park shuttle system in response to COVID-19 in 2020.”
Recent years have seen an unsustainable boost in visits to Zion, an area that sees nearly as many visits as Yellowstone National park with a whopping 4.5 million in 2019 despite being one-fifteenth its size. Angels Landing sees 300,000 hikers a year and has accounted for 13 deaths.
“Angels Landing is one of many places people enjoy visiting in Zion National Park,” the news release continued. “As the number of people who visit Zion continues to rise, NPS is preparing a plan designed to provide high quality visitor experiences and sustainably manage park resources. The Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program will inform that planning process.”
Story by: Jared Clawson
Photo by: National Park Service / Lizz Eberhardt