If a fear of heights doesn't stop you from hiking Zion National Park's iconic Angels Landingnot having a permit will. 

Starting April 1, 2022, as part of a pilot program to reduce crowding on the trail, the Utah park will require a permit to access the iconic chained section. 

With a change in altitude of 1,488 feet, Angels Landing draws in hikers for its breathtaking views and its reputation as a dangerous trail not suited for those who are afraid of heights. The strenuous hike's final half-mile is narrow, measuring less than three feet wide with steep drop-offs to the side. Hikers grip chains on the trail as they make their way to the top where they’re rewarded with breathtaking views of the park.

Read More: Zion or Bryce Canyon? How to choose between Utah's top national parks

In places, the trail is too narrow for people to safely go up and down at the same time, creating bottlenecks and long waits to finally pass along the vertigo-inducing trail. Zion National Park superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said the permitting system would make accessing Angels Landing "fair for everyone." 

“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," Bradybaugh said.

A woman hikes along a high path in Utah.
Zion National Park requires permits to hike Angels Landing's iconic chained section. © Getty Images/iStockphoto

Like many of America’s national parks, Zion National Park has worked to balance the growing number of visitors to the park with the visitor experience. In 2011, the park recorded 2.8 million visitors. In 2019, that figure grew to 4.5 million and the park says it anticipates that number will rise. 

In 2019 and 2021, park rangers metered the number of hikers on Angels Landing trail during busy days, leaving visitors sometimes waiting hours just to start their hike along the trail. The park said the permitting system is a pilot program developed from the lessons learned from that metering system, as well as hearing from members of the public about how to manage traffic along the trail. 

How do you get a permit for Angels Landing?

You have two avenues to secure a permit, both accessible through the National Parks Service website Recreation.gov.

The NPS holds seasonal lotteries for the permits. The next permit lottery opens on April 1, 2022 for permission to hike the trail on dates between June 1 and August 31.  

You’ll have to pay a nonrefundable $6 fee to enter the lottery, which closes on April 20, 2022. If you are chosen for a permit on April 25, you’ll then pay an additional $3 fee per person listed on the permit. The NPS said the fee helps offset the cost to administer the program, as well as pay for the rangers who will check permits and help visitors on the trail. 

If you don’t get a permit through the initial lottery, you can try to enter a second lottery the day before you plan to hike. The lottery will open each day at 12:01 am. Mountain time and close at 3 pm. Rangers will draw permits at 4 pm Mountain time. 

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This article was first published December 2021 and updated March 2022

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