One of America’s most popular national park hikes will require a permit as of 2022.
Officials at Zion National Park have announced that as of April 1, 2022, visitors who want to tackle the famous Angels Landing hike, which scales a 1,488-foot tall rock formation to reveal sweeping views of the canyons below, will have to enter an online lottery to try and get a permit.
“Angels Landing is one of the most iconic destinations in Zion National Park and issuing permits will make going there fair for everyone,” National Park Service (NPS) superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in a statement.
He added: “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.”
Interested travelers will need to go to Recreation.gov and pay $6 to enter an online lottery. There will be two kinds of lotteries: seasonal and last-minute ones. The first will open on January 3 for permits beginning April 1.
The lucky visitors who get permits will then need to pay $3 per person. The fees go toward supporting the park rangers who will handle crowd flow and permit checks.
Bradybaugh confirms that the new permit system is a work in progress and encourages feedback from visitors once it begins.
The Angels Landing hike is one of the most popular in the NPS network, but it can also be dangerous. There have been 10 known fatalities there since 2004, most recently a 19-year-old hiker who reportedly fell from the rock to her death in fall 2019.
Overcrowding has been a significant issue.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, America’s national parks swelled with domestic travelers. Arches National Park, another of Utah’s “Mighty Five” parks, had to turn visitors away when crowd sizes got too big.
Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, chief spokesperson for the NPS, told CNN that 2021 “will be one of our busiest summers and busiest years ever.”
In addition to the erosion that can be caused by too many pairs of boots walking the same trails, overcrowding can also cause problems in the short term.
Many inexperienced campers and hikers visited NPS sites this year, some of whom left behind trash, posted graffiti or disobeyed other park rules. Unprepared visitors can also run out of water, injure themselves or require emergency services.
Zion National Park had about 4.5 million visitors in 2019, according to NPS data.