One of the things that makes Zion National Park such a popular destination is that it has something to offer every visitor. You could take on a challenging hike, or simply enjoy a ride through the park on the shuttle, allowing you to hop off at various stops to take some photos and enjoy some sightseeing. Even if you spent weeks staying in vacation rentals near Zion, you’d still find new places in the park to discover.
One of the park’s most iconic attractions is Angels Landing. This famous trail is often called one of the most dangerous hikes in the U.S. But this hasn’t stopped millions of hikers from making their way to the summit over the years.
Thinking about making the trek to Angels Landing during your stay at Gooseberry Lodges, one of the region’s top Zion accommodations? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about hiking this unique trail and entering the new lottery system.
What is Angels Landing?
Located in Zion’s Lower Canyon, Angels Landing is a challenging 5.4-mile out-and-back trail with nearly 1,500 feet of elevation gain. The hike’s tall peak, visible from nearly everywhere in the park, got its name from early park visitor Frederick Vining Fisher, a Methodist minister who visited the canyon in 1916. Fisher commented that only an angel could land on the tall red rock peak.
While thousands of visitors prove Fisher wrong each year, the hike to Angels Landing isn’t for the faint of heart. The steep climb, long distance, and high summer temperatures have earned the trail a “strenuous” rating. But the final section of trail has hikers climbing 500 feet in elevation along a narrow ridgeline, with only a chain link handrail between them and the steep drop offs on either side.
The popularity of the trail, as well as the narrow stretches, both in the final section and on the famous Walter’s Wiggles — a series of 21 short and steep switchbacks — has led to crowding on the trail. During the busy summer months and on holiday weekends, lines often formed, with hikers sometimes waiting up to 4 hours for their turn on the trail. In an effort to keep park visitors safe and protect the delicate ecosystems on and around the trail, the National Park Service implemented a new permit and lottery system in early 2022.
The New Lottery and Permit System for Angels Landing
Visitor numbers in Zion National Park have increased rapidly in recent years. Which also meant more hikers taking to Angels Landing. In response to growing concerns about crowding and congestion, the National Park Service launched a pilot permit and lottery program on April 1, 2022. Starting from that date, all visitors hoping to hike Angels Landing need to have a permit in hand in order to do so.
Visitors have two chances to get a permit for their choice of dates during their stay. The first is the Seasonal Lottery.
The Seasonal Lottery
Four Seasonal Lotteries will be held each year, and will award permits for a future block of dates. The dates for the first four Seasonal Lotteries are as follows:
- For hiking dates between April 1 and May 31, 2022, the lottery ran from January 3 to January 20, with permits issued on January 25.
- Permits for hiking dates between June 1 and August 31, 2022 were awarded on April 25, following a lottery that was open from April 1 to April 20.
- For hiking dates between September 1 and November 30, 2022, the lottery will run from July 1 to July 20, with permits issued on July 25.
- Permits for hiking dates between December 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023 will be awarded on October 25, following a lottery that will run from October 1 to October 20.
Each of the two lotteries can be accessed via the National Park Service’s website. To enter the Seasonal Lottery, visitors will need to pay a non-refundable fee of $6, which allows them to enter the lottery for up to six hikers at a time. If you are chosen in the lottery, you’ll need to pay $3 per person for the permit. This permit fee is refundable if your permit is canceled at least two days before your hike.
The Day-before Lottery
If you don’t get a permit in the Seasonal Lottery, or if you’re staying in vacation rentals near Zion for a last-minute trip, you can also enter the Day-before Lottery. As the name suggests, this lottery is open from 12:01 a.m. to 3 p.m. MT each day, and awards permits for the following day. Winners of permits for the next day are announced at 4 p.m. MT.
The same $6 application fee applies, and can be used to enter up to six hikers in the lottery. You’ll also need to pay $3 for the permit if your name is chosen in the lottery. For this lottery, both fees are nonrefundable.
Choosing the Right Vacation Rentals Near Zion National Park
Whether you’ve already entered the Seasonal Lottery or not, if you’re hoping to hike to Angels Landing during your stay, choosing the right vacation rentals near Zion National Park is a must. Staying close to the action will allow you to hit the trail early if you do get a permit, to avoid being on the trail during the hottest part of the day. You’ll also want to opt for Zion accommodations that allow you to get plenty of comfortable rest and relaxation before and after this challenging hike!
Ready to try your luck at getting a permit and hiking to the top of this iconic trail? Book your stay at the best vacation rentals near Zion National Park today!