By LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Zion National Park will soon require reservations to hike a famous southern Utah trail perched on the edge of a red rock cliff, officials said Friday.
Starting April 1, people who want to do the Angels Landing narrow hike will need permits provided through a lottery system.
The lottery will be fairer for visitors and reduce crowds on the trail, Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. Crowding is a major concern on the steep cliff-lined trail, where small numbers of people typically fall and die each year, park officials said.
The number of people visiting Zion has grown rapidly in recent years, from around 2.8 million visits in 2011 to nearly 4.5 million visits in 2019.
Angels Landing is one of the most sought after destinations and more than 300,000 people hiked it in 2019, according to park officials.
There will be two lotteries, one seasonal and one for a day before the scheduled rides. Each drawing costs $6 per person to enter, and people who win must pay a $3 per person fee. This will cover the cost of running the lottery and rangers to check permits on the trail.
The permit system will apply specifically to the narrowest section of the trail, often referred to as the “chain section”, as it has metal handholds set into the rock.
Park officials did not immediately specify the number of people allowed per day, but planning documents described a previous experiment that limited visitors over Memorial Day weekend to 120 people per hour on the trail.
The idea was first announced in August and the new trail lottery plan reflects feedback from more than 1,000 people, officials said.
The new system is considered a pilot project and could be adjusted as needed. Zion is located approximately 160 miles (250 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas and 300 miles (483 kilometers) south of Salt Lake City.
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