Utah's Angels Landing to require hiking permits
A solo hiker will need to spend $9 for a hike up the Zion National Park icon, when it used to be free. Crowding and resource impacts led to the permit system.
Better get used to it, if you haven’t already.
Beginning next year hikers will need to apply through a lottery for a permit to hike Angels Landing in Utah’s Zion National Park
The lottery will be run by recreation.gov, a well-established reservation agent for recreation on federal lands. Read about it here:
As crowds have increased on federal recreation lands, so have permits. People don’t like to give up the spontaneity of getting up and going, but the need for crowd management and resource protection are facts of life these days.
Other permits of this type include the Cables Route on Half Dome at Yosemite, the Wave on Arizona BLM lands, Hanging Lake in Colorado and the Mount Whitney Trail in the California Sierra.
River runners, hunters, backpackers, 4WDrivers, sightseers and probably other groups have long been required to jump through hoops to get access-controlled recreation permits. Day hikers can expect more restrictions as use grows.
Delicate Arch in Utah, Multnomah Falls in Oregon, Logan Pass in Montana and Bear Lake in Colorado could easily be permit worthy. However, parking capacities and vehicle access are used to restrict numbers of visitors, not day hike quotas.
The Angels Landing lottery begins Jan. 3, 2022, for hikes beginning April 1. It’s unclear how the park will distinguish hikers continuing on the West Rim Trail from those going up the Cable Route on Angels Landing.
The cost of a hike for an individual goes from free to $9. The park’s news release justifies it by saying it’s the cost of running the lottery ($6 per application), plus ranger time to check for permits ($3 per hiker).
The lottery also adds a new layer of planning for Zion visitors. Anyone who recreates much on federal permit sites knows that each application process has its own peculiarities. Federal campgrounds, however, mostly have a consistent booking process beginning six months before arrival (Yosemite being an exception).
Zion appears to not offer those camping inside the park or staying in Zion Lodge any special consideration for a Angels Landing permit. With other trails often closed for one reason or another, not having an Angels Landing permit will cut down the option of things to do for those overnighting in the park. But the same can be said about those staying at private lodges in Springdale.
The park news release does not say how many hikers will be allowed each day, nor if permits are time restricted during day of validity. Another unanswered question is how this type of lottery is legal in Utah, which does not allow gambling. There must be a simple explanation.