Zion National Park’s iconic sheer trail requiring permits

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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 bluff, officials said Friday.

Beginning April 1, those who wish to hike the narrow Angels Landing hike will need permits provided through a lottery system.

The lottery will be fairer to visitors and reduce congestion on the trail, said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. Overcrowding is a major concern on the steep cliff-bordered trail, where a small number of people 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 almost 4.5 million visits in 2019.

Angels Landing is one of the top destinations and more than 300,000 people traveled it in 2019, according to park officials.

There will be two lotteries, one seasonal and another one day before the planned hikes. Each draw costs $ 6 per person to participate and winners must pay a fee of $ 3 per person. This will cover the cost of running the lottery and ranger to verify permits on the trail.

The permit system will apply specifically to the narrowest section of the trail, often referred to as the “chain section” because it has metal handles sunk into the rock.

Park officials did not immediately say how many people would be 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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