In a move that probably doesn’t surprise anyone, officials at Zion National Park have announced it will hold seasonal lotteries to distribute permits for hikers who want to visit Angels Landing in 2023.
Offering the lotteries builds on the success of the park’s Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program in 2022. The program was implemented to make visiting the popular site easier and less stressful for visitors by distributing hikers’ start times throughout the day.
Indeed, since the pilot program started on April 1, 2022, Zion issued nearly 200,000 permits. Importantly, hikers reported that the program successfully reduced crowding and congestion on the last half-mile of trail from Scout Lookout to Angels Landing.
“Issuing permits is something we did after substantial public input, and it has been effective,” Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent, said in a statement. “In 2023, park rangers will continue recording data and enhancing the pilot program to maximize the number of people making the hike while minimizing crowding and congestion on this half-mile, perennially popular trail.”
How To Plan A Visit To Angels Landing
Here’s how the seasonal lottery to visit Angels Landing in 2023 and early 2024 will work.
The lottery for hikes to Angels Landing between March 1 and May 31, 2023, opens on January 1, 2023, at 8 a.m. Mountain Time. The lottery closes on January 20, at 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time and permits will be issued on January 25.
2023 Angels Landing Seasonal Lotteries Chart
The chart below shows when the seasonal lotteries for permits will be held for all of 2023 and early 2024.
You can learn more about the seasonal lottery as well as how you can apply for a permit at Angels Landing Permits & Hiking.
Why A Hiking Lottery Is Needed
When visitors to Zion National Park reach Angels Landing, they immediately understand why it got its name. When Methodist minister Frederick Vining Fisher first saw the spot in 1916, he immediately said that “only an angel could land there,” according to the National Park Service.
Accessing Angels Landing via the West Rim Trail is strenuous. The trail itself is 5.4 miles long and steep, with an elevation change of 1,488 feet. And after hiking to the top, visitors must then hike back down the steep trail.
Importantly, the National Park Service cautions that the hike is also “mentally challenging.” Part of that challenge is due to the section of the trail where a chain is bolted into the sandstone for hikers to use as a handrail.
Then again, the effort is worthwhile. The views are amazing, and so is the 1,500-foot sheer drop to the floor of Zion Canyon below.
The Angels Landing hike is extremely popular due to its amazing views. Indeed, the half-mile chained section of the trail beginning at Scout Lookout drew more than 300,000 visitors in 2019.
What’s more, over Memorial Day weekend 2021, Zion management warned visitors that if they wanted to hike to Angels Landing, they needed to be prepared for a 4-hour wait in line — and that’s after a 2-hour wait to board a shuttle bus bound for the trailhead.
In response to concerns about crowding and congestion on the trail, Zion began requiring hikers to have a permit to visit Angels Landing on April 1, 2022. That pilot program was built around lessons park officials learned when they metered the number of hikers on the trail in 2019 and 2021, as well as when tickets were distributed to use the park shuttle system in response to COVID-19 restrictions in 2020.
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