Hikers wishing to see the surreal vista of Zion Canyon from atop Angels Landing will soon need a permit to do so.
Zion National Park officials announced Friday they will move forward with a plan to use a permit lottery system to allow people to complete the full Angels Landing hike. Permits will be required beginning April 1, 2022.
"Angels Landing is one of the most iconic destinations in Zion National Park and issuing permits will make going there fair for everyone," Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh 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."
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.
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.