We count on your comments

In 2011, Zion National Park recorded about 2.8 million visits, then, in 2021, we recorded more than 5 million visits. We are glad so many people have gotten to visit and enjoy this exceptional place. In the same period, visitors, staff and park neighbors reported increased crowding, longer lines to ride the shuttle, a lack of parking, visible wear on infrastructure like trails and bathrooms and a decline in opportunities for solitude. To understand and measure how those changes might be affecting your enjoyment of the park as well as its scenery, animals, plants and history, we asked what you thought.

We ask for your comments because they help us understand what you think is most important when you visit Zion. Your comments help us improve the ways we manage the park to meet your needs and protect the landscapes, animals, plants and history that may have convinced you to visit in the first place.


Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program comments

Computer generated graphic of Angels Landing in profile with text requesting public comment.

NPS / Abi Farish

In August 2021, we proposed a pilot program to issue day-use permits to hike to Angels Landing, and we wanted to learn what you thought about it. In August and September, more than 1,000 people submitted comments through the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website. As we planned for the pilot program, we also considered comments you shared on social media posts and ideas from meetings with neighbors, elected officials, business owners and other stakeholders.

Read here to learn how your ideas shaped the program.


Our responses to your comments about how you will get permits to hike Angels Landing

Many commenters said that they hoped issuing permits would improve hikers experience and reduce congestion on the trail. Some of the commenters who opposed issuing permits expressed concerns about how the system might make it harder to make spontaneous hikes to Angels Landing or raised concerns about permit's cost.

More of you supported Zion issuing day-use permits to hike to Angels Landing than opposed it, and all of the comments you shared helped us shape the program so that it will not only reduce crowding but also help you enjoy your hikes there.

Read summaries of your comments and an explanation of how we considered and responded to them in the drop-down boxes here. 

Comment summary

Many commenters expressed concerns that the West Rim Trail (which starts at the Grotto), Scout Lookout, and the section of the trail with chains that leads to Angels Landing were too crowded or may be unsafe.  Commenters also often said that they believed the park should change the way it manages access to the trail. Some of these commenters believed that limiting the number of people going to Angels Landing would:

  • Enhance their enjoyment of the park.
  • Reduce stress on the trail.
  • Improve safety on the trail.
  • Make it easier to find moments of solitude and peace.

Other commenters agreed that the trail was crowded but opposed changing the ways the park managed access because that might:

  • Make it harder to take spontaneous hikes to Angels Landing.
  • Be complicated or ultimately ineffective.


Zion National Park's reply

We know that hiking to Angels Landing is one of the most popular things that visitors travel to Zion National Park to do. In fact, more than 300,000 visitors ascended the trail there in 2019.  In 2017, we managed a study to understand hiking patterns and collect data on visitors' experiences at Angels Landing and in The Narrows. The study showed that visitors thought the both of these areas were crowded and sometimes congested (this means visitors found the number of people around them sometimes made it harder to move on the trail than they would have liked). This was especially true on the half-mile section of the trail with chains that starts at Scout Lookout. In later years, we observed continued crowding and congestion as the number of visitors in the park continued to increase. 

In response, and in order to see whether there was an effective way to address visitors' concerns and reduce crowding and congestion, in 2019 and 2021 NPS staff went to Scout Lookout to manage the number of hikers going to Angels Landing on some holiday weekends. We observed that having NPS staff manage access from Scout Lookout to Angels Landing reduced crowding and congestion.

Based on the public's comments and on our experience with managing access on some holiday weekends, we decided it was appropriate to begin a pilot program in the spring of 2022 issuing permits to hike to Angels Landing.

Comment summary

Some commenters asked questions or raised concerns about when we would issue permits to hike Angels Landing. Specifically, some commenters thought that the NPS should:

  • Issue permits only during peak season, on weekends, or for parts of days (e.g. in the morning, until noon, until 5 p.m., etc.).

  • Issue permits uniformly thoughout the year to avoid giving visitors a reason to hike in more dangerous conditions (possibly during the winter when it can be cold or icy). 

  • Allow some kind of flexibility in case a permit holder arrived late due to unexpected travel delays.

  • Clarify whether hikers departing from Zion Valley and going up the West Rim Trail would need a permit if they were going to pass Scout Lookout without going to Angels Landing.

Zion National Park's reply

The NPS believes we can most effectively reduce congestion and crowding on the trail to Angels Landing by issuing hiking permits at all times of the day and year. We believe this is the most effective solution because it will spread hikers start times out more evenly. Since we plan to issue permits that will allow hikers to start their hikes not at specific times but in three time-windows (in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon, respectively), hikers will still have flexibility to set or adjust their schedules . We are not issuing permits to travel on the West Rim Trail, so hikers who plan to go to or from Zion Canyon on the West Rim Trail and who do not plan to visit Angels Landing do not need to get a permit.

Comment summary

The topic that came up most consistently in comments was whether or how the NPS might use a permit lottery. Commenters expressed:

  • Past frustrations with lottery systems used to award permits or tickets to visit other public land and recreational destinations.
  • Familiarity with first-come, first served reservation systems. 
  • That you believe you have a better chance of getting a permit using a first-come, first-served reservation system.
    • Many commenters specifically said that they would rather accept responsibility for navigating and taking time to compete to get permits at a set time rather than take the chance of being entered in a randomized lottery.
  • A preference for a system that would give an answer immediately upon entry so that you could begin planning trips to Zion National Park.

Other commenters argued that the National Park Service should make it a priority to award permits fairly. These commenters said the NPS should not require hikers to be at the park to apply to get a permit and/or that we should consider alternatives to get a permit that did not require access to a computer or the internet.

Zion National Park's reply

After we decided issuing permits would be an effective way to reduce crowding and congestion on the trail to Angels Landing, the NPS considered several different ways for you to get one. We decided to use a lottery system because:

  • We believe it is the fairest choice.

  • We want to avoid causing frustration

We believe using a lottery is the fairest choice because it allows everyone the same chance to enter to get a permit. Since we plan to host four seasonal lotteries with entry periods of more than one week each as well as a day-before lottery (open for about 8 hours each day), you will have a chance to enter when it is convenient for you. We believe this is fairer than potentially requiring some visitors to build their schedules around applying for a hiking permit at a single, set-time. Not making the system first-come, first-served also prevents putting you at a disadvantage if you do not have easy access to high-speed internet or a computer. During the lottery application periods, you can apply anywhere, anytime before the deadline. Everyone who enters will have the same chance of getting a permit, and no one needs to be in the park or at a computer with a high-speed internet connection to apply.

Our decision to use a lottery permit system was also informed by visitors' negative comments regarding the first-come, first-served shuttle ticket reservation system we managed starting during 2020 in response to COVID-19. Visitors said that it was hard for them to figure out how to use the system quickly enough to enter and get a ticket and many expressed frustration. They also said they did not like needing to set aside part of their day to use a website at the exact time we released tickets.

We also believe this system will help visitors plan their trips. Not only do you get to pick your own ranked-choice list of hike dates to enter the seasonal lottery (everyone gets to pick a first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh choice hike date/time), but will have at least one month or as long as three months after we tell you you are getting a permit to plan your travel to Zion.

This is a pilot program, and the NPS will monitor and adjust it as needed throughout 2022.

Comment summary

Some commenters said they were worried that needing to apply for a permit would make it hard to plan trips to Zion National Park. Commenters said:

  • They wanted to be able to plan their trips far in advance of travel and were worried that they might not know if they had a permit in time to make their plans, and we should issue permits months or a year ahead of time.

  • Getting a permit far ahead of time did not suit their desire to plan trips at short-notice, and we should only issue permits a week or the day before hike dates.

In response, commenters suggested that we release some or all of the permits to hike Angels Landing months or even a year ahead of hike dates or no sooner than weeks before or the day before hike dates.


Commenters often suggested that we should issue the permits at different times and have some available long ahead of time and others available at shorter notice. Some commenters also suggested that we should sychronize the timelines to get permits with the reservation periods for camping reservations and other activities for which we issue permits.

Zion National Park's reply

In response to your comments, we set up two systems to enter permit lotteries. You can enter seasonal lotteries to get a permit at least a month (or as long as three months) before your planned hike date, or you can enter a lottery the day before you want to hike Angels Landing. If you enter a lottery, we will send you an email to tell you if you got a permit.

This is a pilot program, and the NPS will monitor and adjust it as needed throughout 2022.

Comment summary

Some commenters expressed concern about whether we would consider changing an Angels Landing pilot permit program if we decided to manage one. Commenters said that they wanted to make sure we would respond to make the program better if we discovered problems wth it, if commenters reported that they could not get a permit at all or if commenters report significant problems with the way they got their permits. 

Zion National Park's reply

We appreciate commenter's concern about making sure this program is effective. This is a pilot program, and the NPS will monitor and adjust it as needed throughout 2022. In fact, the reason we scheduled four seasonal lotteries is that it meant we would have four chances to optimize access so that we achieve our overall goal of reducing crowing and congestion on the trail and protecting the scenery, animals, plants and history of the park while issuing as many permits as possible. If we make changes, we will share updates on our website, social media and we will share news releases with the media.

Comment summary

We specifically asked you to share what you thought about our charging a fee for a permit to hike Angels Landing.

Commenters who supported paying a fee:

  • Argued that the NPS should charge more than the $3 we proposed (suggestions ranged from $9 to $50).
  • Stated that permit fees were a relatively small expense compared to other costs they paid to get to Zion. 
Commenters who opposed paying a fee:
  • Expressed concerns about whether the expense might prevent underpriveliged visitors from hiking Angels Landing.
  • Wanted the NPS to allow locals (park neighbors) to hike Angels Landing without paying for a permit.
  • Felt that the NPS's existing appropriation from Congress should cover costs associated with managing a permit program.
  • Felt that their park entrance fee should cover the costs associated with managing a permit program.
  • Opposed paying additional fees to visit/use specific parts of Zion after entering the park.

Zion National Park's reply

Managing a program to issue permits to hike Angels Landing involves new expenses for the park including paying for additional staff and a contractor to manage the online lottery and permit system. The $6 application fee we proposed covers the cost for a private contractor to build, maintain and manage the online permit lottery system.  The $3 per person fee people who get permits pay covers the cost for Zion National Park to hire additional rangers who will answer visitors' questions, facilitate emergency services and enforce the permit program, monitor trail conditions and collect data in the field. The costs to provide these services would have been the same if we had chosen to use a first-come, first-served reservation system instead of a lottery system.

Comment summary

Many commenters said they did not want to pay the program's $6 lottery application fee and argued that we should charge less or nothing at all. The reason many commenters said they objected to paying the fee was that they did not want to spend money on applying for a permit that they might not get and that would not benefit Zion National Park. 

Zion National Park's reply

To pay for recreation.gov's services managing lotteries and issuing permits, we need to pay them. The registration fee you pay gives access to a website along with call-center support year-round from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. ET daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day).

The reservation fee reflects the cost of providing an online reservation service, which includes recreation sites and activities for seven participating agencies for more than 3,600 locations and 103,000 individual sites across the country. 

Comment summary

Commenters said they supported paying a fee to hike at Angels Landing (suggestions ranged from $3 to $10 per person), and they strongly supported the NPS using fees to pay for more park staff and trail maintenance. 
Some commenters expressed support for paying a fee but said that they wanted to know how the NPS would spend that money.

Zion National Park's reply

Entering a lottery for a permit to hike at Angels Landing costs $6 to apply. This fee is not refundable. Read more about this in our "Permit application fee" summary and reply on this webpage.

Lottery applicants who get permits will pay $3 per person. The NPS decided $3 was the best price to charge because it would help us pay for the field staff who will manage the Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program. The fee is also on par with the price hikers pay for similar permits issued by the NPS and other federal land management agencies.

We plan to use the fee money to hire staff who will focus on helping visitors at and around Angels Landing. Every per person fee dollar goes directly to the National Park Service.

Comment summary

Some commenters expressed concern about permit holders reselling Angels Landing permits at inflated prices. These commenters often said they were concerned about malicious use of automated programs (bots) to get permits or that some hikers might attempt to misuse the permit system. These commenters said they believed misuse of the lottery systems might make it harder for hikers to get permits when they want to go to Angels Landing.

Zion National Park's reply

Based on our experience with the COVID-19 Shuttle Ticket Program, the NPS shares some of these concerns, and we designed the Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program to proactively address them.  We are taking action by:

  • Voiding any permit purchased from a third party (not from Recreation.gov).
    • Bring a government or school issued form of identification with your name and picture on it so that we can confirm you are the person whose name is on your permit.
    • Permits are non-transferable, and you will not be able to use a permit that we did not issue to you. 
  • Working with Recreation.gov to detect suspected automated programs (bots) or resellers. We are taking steps not to issue permits to bots or resellers.
  • Using lotteries to distribute tickets instead of a first-come, first-served permit reservation system that would privilege potentially fraudulent automated programs (bots) which sometimes operate at especially high internet speeds.

Comment summary

Some commenters expressed concern that the NPS might not check to confirm that hikers going to Angels Landing had permits. Commenters said that they did not think a permit system would accomplish the park's goals of reducing crowding and congestion unless someone made sure that everyone going to Angels Landing had a permit. Some commenters said that they thought additional NPS staff should be present near Scout Lookout or the Grotto, available for search and rescue operations as needed, providing interpretive or educational services, matinaining the restroom at Scout Lookout, and/or enforcing park rules and issuing citations.

Zion National Park's reply

The NPS believes that having additional park rangers on and near the trail to Angels Landing will make the pilot permit program more effective at reducing crowding and congestion as well as provide other services to visitors.

With this in mind, visitors will need to have printed or digital copies of their permits to show to park staff both in Zion Canyon at the Grotto (shuttle stop 6) and at Scout Lookout (at the top of Walter's Wiggles just before the section of the trail with chains). Rangers will do spot checks along the trail to Angels Landing and will spend time speaking with visitors as well as providing other services. If you do not have a permit, you may get a citation.

Hikers who are traveling from areas other than the Grotto will see a ranger at Scout Lookout.  If you do not plan to go to Angels Landing, you do not need to have a permit to go past Scout Lookout on the West Rim Trail.

Comment summary

We asked you to share your ideas to reduce crowding and congestion on the trail to Angels Landing. While many commenters wrote that they supported the NPS issuing permits, some commenters made suggestions about what we could do instead of issuing permits. Commenters suggested that we should:

  • Build new trails elsewhere in the park.
  • Expand existing trails to Angels Landing and elsewhere in the park.
  • Add new facilities with additional parking, bathrooms and/or showers in Zion Valley.

  • Build additional bathrooms at Scout Lookout (where the chains on the trail to Angels Landing start).

  • Reopen trails that are covered by unstable rock from a landslide at Hidden Canyon and on the East Rim.

Commenters said that they believed taking these actions would give alternatives to hiking at Angels Landing so that more people would hike or visit elsewhere in the park.

Zion National Park's reply

Angels Landing is an iconic destination in Zion National Park, and hundreds of thousands of visitors travel there every year to hike. While we appreciate commenters' suggestions about alternatives to hiking at Angels Landing, we are concerned that new trails will not, in fact, reduce demand to hike there. We would need to understand how new construction might affect the park's scenery, animals, plants or history. While we may consider adding infrastructure in the future, that is outside the scope of the Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program.

With regard to infrastructure and trail development and maintenance in general, Zion National Park is preparing a comprehensive Environmental Assessment for our Visitor Use Mangement Plan.  This plan will address some of the commenter's concerns not only at Angels Landing but throughout the park. Our experience issuing permits to hike Angels Landing will shape the way we approach the plan. We have shared this plan for you to read, and we will share more information about it in the future.

Regarding commenters who suggested that we should reopen the East Rim Trail from Weeping Rock to Echo Canyon (including Hidden Canyon), we have been monitoring that area for two years, and we are concerned that reopening it may not be not safe for vistitors or park staff. We continue to assess the area and will take action to reconstruct the trail there and reopen it to visitors when we have evidence that the fallen rock is stable and that large rock falls are unlikely.

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Last updated: February 28, 2022

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