As far as national parks go, Zion is actually fairly small. The four largest national parks in the country are all located in Alaska, with the largest, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, covering as much land as the nation of Moldova — over 8.3 million acres. Outside of Alaska, the next largest national park is Death Valley. This park covers more than 3.3 million acres across California and Nevada.
Zion ranks 36th on the list of the largest national parks in the U.S. It covers 147,000 acres. But despite its comparatively small size, the park is still home to a number of hiking trails that are famous among hikers and travelers around the world.
The Narrows is one such trail. This trail is unique in that it requires hikers to get their feet wet as they hike up or down the Virgin River. During the winter months, this means bundling up in waders and wet suits to brave the chilly water. In the summer, the cool river is a welcome respite from the heat.
Another famous trail is Angels Landing. While the hike does offer incredible views, it’s also known for being one of the most dangerous trails in the U.S. Despite this, thousands of people visit Zion in hopes of hiking this trail. But in 2022, doing so will get a bit more complicated.
Hiking Angels Landing
By some estimates, more than 1,000 people on average attempt to hike to the summit of Angels Landing each day. The popularity of the trail can sometimes lead tourists to overlook its dangers and the challenges of taking on this difficult trail.
Angels Landing is 2.4 miles one-way, and 4.8 miles to hike roundtrip. It takes more hikers between 3 and 6 hours to complete, depending on their experience and fitness levels. The dangers of Angels Landing start early. The hike is rated strenuous, and triple-digit summer temperatures lead to many cases of heatstroke and dehydration. Walters Wiggles, a series of steep switchbacks, will tire out even experienced hikers, especially on a hot day.
Near the summit of the trail is perhaps its most famous feature, and the most dangerous; a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs on either side and only thin metal handrails to hold on to.
Changes Coming in 2022
Prior to April 1, 2022, hikers hoping to take on Angels Landing could head straight to the trailhead and hop in line. Crowds on the trails were common; in some cases, hikers had to wait for hours to cross the narrow ridge to the summit of the trail. This was more than just an inconvenience; in the heat, and with no water available on the trail, it could quickly become dangerous as well.
In an effort to protect Zion’s natural resources and keep park visitors safe, a new permit system is rolling out at the start of the park’s busy season. Starting on April 1, 2022, any hikers wishing to take on Angels Landing will need to apply for a permit to do so. Permits won’t be unlimited; instead, visitors will need to enter a lottery to get one.
What You Need to Know About the Angels Landing Permit Lottery
Starting in 2022, there will be four Seasonal Lotteries. Each lottery will allot permits for a specific set of dates. The 2022 lotteries include:
- Lottery for hikes between April 1 and May 31 opens on January 3 and closes January 20
- The Lottery for hikes between June 1 and August 31 opens April 1 and closes April 20
- Lottery for hikes between September 1 and November 30 opens July 1 and closes July 20
- The Lottery for hikes between December 1 and February 28, 2023, will open October 1 and close on October 20
Those wishing to enter one of the seasonal lotteries will go online and choose 7 dates and times or windows of dates and times. You’ll rank your chosen windows by order of preference. Entering a Seasonal Lottery will cost $6 to enter, and can include up to 6 hikers on each entry.
In addition to the Seasonal Lottery, a Day-Before Lottery will give hikers one more chance to get a permit. As the name suggests, this lottery will open up each day at 12:01 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. MST. At 4 p.m., permits will be awarded for the following day. This lottery also costs $6 to enter and can be used to get permits for up to 6 hikers. Those who receive a permit in either lottery will have to pay an additional $3 per person for the permit.
Planning to Hike Angels Landing
If you’re planning to enter the lottery for a chance to take on Angels Landing, you’ll want to make sure to prepare for the hike ahead of your trip. Practice hikes can help ensure you’re ready for the challenge, while packing plenty of water and the right gear will keep you safe from the elements.
Ready to try your luck at the Angels Landing lottery? Be sure to book your stay at Watchman Villas for your visit. With a shuttle stop right outside of your private villa, you’ll have fast and easy access to the park so you can hit the trail rested and refreshed.
Book your stay today to take advantage of our Winter Special. Right now, if you book a stay between December 1, 2021 and February 28, 2022, you’ll get a 50% discount on your villa.