Want to hike to Angels Landing in Zion National Park?
You’ll have to be a little bit brave, and a little bit lucky.
As of April 1, hikers will need a permit to make the strenuous 5-mile trek, which climbs 1,488 feet and is definitely not for anyone with a fear of heights.
The new policy comes in response to a rise in visitors to the park in recent years. June was the busiest month ever for Zion, which opened its doors in 1919, and the park is on course to have its busiest year ever, surpassing 2019′s 4.5 million visitors.
The Angels Landing trail, in particular, has become increasingly crowded — and dangerous. At least 13 people have died on the trail since 2000.
“Angels Landing is one of the most iconic destinations in Zion National Park and issuing permits will make going there fair for everyone.” Jeff Bradybaugh, park superintendent, said in a statement. “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.”
How to Get a Permit for Angels Landing
People will be allowed to enter the lottery for a permit online beginning Jan. 3, 2022. It’ll cost $6 to enter the lottery and $3 per person among lottery winners of a group. The initial lottery will close on Jan. 20, 2022, for permits between April 1 and May 31, 2022.
Another lottery window will begin April 1, 2022, for permits between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2022. On July 1, the window will open for permits between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, 2022. Permits for Dec. 1, 2022, through Feb. 28, 2023, will first go on sale on Oct. 1, 2022.
The $6 application fee is nonrefundable, according to park officials. Lottery winners can receive a refund for the $3 per person if they cancel two days before their permit date.
Park officials say people will need to print or download their permits before they get to the Angels Landing trailhead. A ranger may ask for a permit at the Grotto, Scout Lookout or along the trail. They may turn a hiker around if they do not have their permit with them.
Why did this happen?
The new permit program is in response to safety concerns and congestions along the hike that have risen in recent years. Last month, preliminary visitation data shows Zion National Park, at over 4.5 million, has already broken its visitation record this year.
The figure, through October, is about a 60% increase from visitation numbers reported in 2011. With 2021 trends at Angels Landing mirroring 2019 trends, when the park began counting people going up Angels Landing, officials said they knew it meant they needed to do something to address overcrowding on the trail.
Rangers started testing out the system during the summer holiday season in an effort to manage the number of hikers especially along the chain section of the hike, which posed safety concerns. Park officials then proposed the concept as a mainstay in August.
The plan received close to 1,000 responses during the public comment period and enough support that they moved forward with the idea. A spokesperson for the park said that since the permit lottery is a pilot program, the National Park Service will monitor it and make adjustments “as needed.” Officials also plan to seek feedback on the plan after it is implemented to see what does and doesn’t work.