The National Park Service is using a pilot permit system at Zion National Park’s immensely popular Angels Landing to reduce crowding and make visiting the site less stressful and safer for hikers.
The pilot permit system, which requires hikers to have a permit to visit Angels Landing at all times, was launched on April 1, 2022. Since then, Zion has issued more than 210,000 permits that evenly distribute hikers throughout the day.
Using the system, “rangers observed, and hikers reported, less crowding and congestion on the trail than in past years,” according to the National Park Service.
The lottery for a permit to hike Angels Landing between June 1 and August 31 this year closes at 11:59 p.m. Mountain time on April 20. If you’re planning to visit Zion National Park this summer and would like to hike to Angels Landing, the good news is that the National Park Service has released some tips for improving your chances of securing one of those permits.
Here’s what you need to know.
Strengthening Your Application
“You must have a permit to hike any portion of Angels Landing from the start of the permitted area at Scout Lookout to the summit,” the National Park Service explains. “Permits are needed every day and at all times.”
The lottery to apply for a permit to hike Angels Landing this summer, from June 1 to August 31, is now open. The lottery will close at 11:59 p.m., Mountain time, on Thursday, April 20.
The lottery for hikes between September 1 and November 30 opens on July 1 and closes on July 20.
The lottery for hikes between December 1 and February 29, 2024, opens on October 1 and closes on October 20.
If you plan to register for a permit, the National Park Service explains that it’s important to fill out the entire application to take advantage of the ranked-choice application system. First, that means be sure to pick multiple hike start times and/or days that work best for your group.
Secondly, be sure to also select different group sizes if the number of hikers in your party will vary depending on the date and start times.
You can learn more and even register for the seasonal lottery at Angels Landing: Summer (hikes on June 1 – August 31).
Finally, keep in mind that in addition to the seasonal lottery, there also is a day-before lottery that is open from 12:01 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mountain time the day before your planned hike. You can enter that lottery to – hopefully – secure a permit to hike to Angels Landing the next day from now through May 31, 2023.
You can learn how to enter the lottery for daily permits at Angels Landing: Spring Daily Lottery.
Why A Hiking Lottery Is Needed
When visitors get to Angels Landing, they immediately understand how 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.
Hiking Zion’s 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. After hiking to the top, visitors must then hike back down the steep trail. 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, including being able to see the 1,500-foot sheer drop to the floor of Zion Canyon below.
The Angels Landing hike is extremely popular due to its spectacular views. Indeed, the half-mile chained section of the trail beginning at Scout Lookout drew more than 300,000 visitors in 2019.
Then, over Memorial Day weekend of 2021, Zion management warned visitors that if they wanted to hike to Angels Landing, they needed to be prepared for a four-hour wait in line — and that’s after a two-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 measured 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.
Know Before You Go
While everyone who hikes to Angels Landing needs a permit, keep in mind that hikers going to Scout Lookout do not need a permit and visitors using the park shuttle do not need a permit or reservation. Also, although visitors do not need a reservation to enter Zion, they are still required to pay the park fee.
You can find more information about applying for a permit, find maps of the area, and even learn how to prepare for the hike at Angels Landing Permits & Hiking.
While you’re thinking about a visit, be sure to read all of our Zion National Park content, including: