Owner system

Angels Landing permit system in Zion is open for business

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A permit is now required to hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park. Some of the first people to hike there on Friday with the new system in place said it was less crowded and they felt safer.

Susan McPartland, the park’s visitor utilization manager, said reducing attendance and improving safety is exactly why the new pilot program was put in place – to improve the experience of visitors. people, as visits have increased in recent years.

“We’re trying to…make sure people have time to go at their own pace, enjoy these beautiful views, and really hope we can improve their sense of safety,” she told KUER-FM.

There are two lotteries for Angels Landing. The seasonal one opens months in advance and the other can be grabbed the day before the hike. McPartland pointed out that this is a pilot program and might need some tweaking. But in the afternoon of the first day, she said everything was fine.

There is a thick metal chain to hold on to, as hikers clamber over steep rocks to the top of Angels Landing. During the busy days of 2021, park officials say people had to wait several hours to make the trek.

Hiking has been on Abbie Crowell’s bucket list for years. The Ohio resident wasn’t too excited about the new lottery system as she had to apply for a certain date months before her April 1 visit.

“But now that I’ve gone through it, I think it’s a good idea, I think so. It wouldn’t have been the same hike if it had been crowded,” she said. “It was fantastic. It’s a wonderful hike. Everyone should do it. But I can’t imagine doing this with people, you know, crawling on top of each other.

Crowell heard about the crowds from friends and families who have done the hike before and said she would have turned around if she saw too many people.

When Tom and Connie Peter were planning a trip to the park from Florida, they chose to go there on day one when permits were needed. They thought that would make it better.

“I think it helped control the number of people on the trail and made it a great experience,” he said. “That was about the right amount of people on the track today.”

The ideal number of hikers per day is around 800, McPartland said. These permit holders are then split into different time slots throughout the day. The program could help inform a potential park-wide reservation system or other trail-specific lotteries, she noted.

Flavio Bonilla, who was visiting southern Utah from New Jersey with his father, applied for a permit Thursday while hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park and was granted one. He said the crowd control was worth it.

“It made it a lot safer, I really feel like it did, especially when we got to the top and went back up,” he said after completing the hike. “(We didn’t have to) worry about bottlenecks or having to slow things down. It was safer.