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With record-breaking crowds straining resources at the national parks, more and more units have turned to reservation systems to keep visitation manageable. Now, you can add Zion National Park to that list: Starting on April 1, 2022, anyone who wants to hike the park’s popular Angels Landing Trail past Scout’s Lookout will need a valid permit.
If you’re interested in standing on top of Angels Landing, the lottery system for the hike will open January 3 on Recreation.gov. The first lottery window will cover dates between April 1 and May 31, and entering the lottery will cost $6. Additional names on the permit will cost $3 each. The initial lottery window will close on January 20.
The next lottery will be rolled out on April 1 for visitors that will be in Zion from July 1 to August 31. Subsequent lotteries will open on July 1 and October 1. A number of permits will also be reserved for a “day before” lottery, allowing a few lucky visitors to snag a permit while visiting the park.
After collecting community feedback and monitoring traffic levels on the feature over the past several years, park officials determined that enacting a permit system may be the best measure to help control crowds.
Overcrowding is not only uncomfortable, it’s also a safety concern on the narrow path that leads visitors to Angels Landing. According to the National Park Service, Angels Landing received its name when visitor, Frederick Vining Fisher, joked that “only an angel could land there,” because the hike is notorious for its exposed cliffs. The hike involves hiking past 1,000-foot drops, and many hikers rely on the installed chain system to enhance safety while hiking. At least 14 people have died in falls from the trail there.
In a statement, Zion National Park’s Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh reflected: “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.”
As a pilot program, park officials will be closely monitoring the system and its effects on visitors. There may be additional changes to the system in the future.