Planning a visit to Zion National Park this year? If it’s been a few years since your last visit, you might be surprised to see some of the ways that the park has changed. While you’ll still get to enjoy the same incredible views, increasing numbers of visitors have led the park to put measures in place to control and manage the crowds that flock to Zion during the summer, weekends, and holidays.
It’s been over two decades since the National Park Service created the Zion Canyon shuttle system to reduce traffic and parking problems in the lower canyon. But now, busy roadways aren’t the issue that the park service is looking to manage; it’s crowding on trails. And, in particular, on the trail to Angels Landing. Starting in 2022, visitors looking to hike to the summit of this popular trail and landmark will need to obtain a permit in order to do so. Unfortunately, getting a permit isn’t as easy as simply requesting one.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the big change coming to Zion National Park this year.
Zion’s Most-Famous Landmark
Angels Landing is more than just one of Zion’s most popular trails; it’s also one of the most popular and well-known trails in the world. The trail’s popularity stems from its incredible views at the summit, as well as the challenging—and potentially dangerous—summit.
The trail is an out-and-back hike that’s just under 5 miles round-trip and usually takes hikers between 4 and 5 hours to complete. After hiking a couple of miles up steep trails and 21 challenging switchbacks, hikers arrive at the final half-mile section. Here, the trail follows a narrow ridgeline with steep cliffs on either side. There is a chain handrail to provide a handhold for hikers, but the trail is still intimidating, and treacherous in wet or icy conditions.
Despite these challenges, the trail attracts more than 300,000 hikers every year. These crowds pose a number of problems. They can make the trail even more dangerous, as the narrow sections see hikers trying to pass one another. Hikers waiting for their turn to cross the ridge are left waiting in the direct sun, and on a summer day, in triple-digit temperatures. The crowds are also causing damage to the trail and the plant and animal life close to it.
Getting a Permit to Hike Angels Landing
In an effort to curb the crowds making their way to Angels Landing, Zion is implementing a big change in 2022. Starting on April 1, all hikers will need to get a permit in order to take on the hike. This permit will help to reduce crowds to reduce the impact on the trail and also allow visitors to enjoy a safe hike.
Permits will be awarded using a lottery system. Each year, there will be 4 seasonal lotteries to allot permits for the next season. The schedule for these lotteries for 2022 is as follows:
- For hikes between April 1 and May 31, the lottery will run from January 3 to 20
- For hikes between June 1 and August 31, the lottery will run from April 1 to 20
- For hikes between September 1 and November 30, the lottery will run from July 1 to 30
- For hikes between December 1 and February 28, 2023, the lottery will run from October 1 to 20
If you want to enter one of these 4 lotteries, you’ll need to go online within the open window and submit an application. On this form, you’ll need to choose your top 7 date and time windows, and rank them by your preference. Entering a lottery will cost you $6, but allows you to apply for a permit for up to 6 hikers.
If you don’t get a permit through one of the seasonal lotteries, you’ll have one more chance; another lottery for the day before you want to complete your hike. Each day from 12:01 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., visitors will be able to apply for a permit to hike Angels Landing the next day. Permits are awarded at 4 p.m. Entering this lottery also costs $6 and allows you to apply for 6 hikers total. If you’re lucky enough to win a permit in either lottery, you’ll also need to pay $3 per person for the permit.
Planning Your Visit to Zion National Park
Whether you plan to try to get a permit to hike to Angels Landing or not, if you’re planning to visit Zion National Park this year, you’ll want to start your planning earlier than in years past.
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