Angels Landing is perhaps Zion’s best-known landmark. At its height, more than 300,000 people hiked the famous trail each year.
Despite being such a popular hike, it’s also one of the nation’s most dangerous trails. Besides being more than five miles long with nearly 1,500 feet of elevation change, one of the trail’s most dangerous features is a relatively short section of the trail. Here, hikers cross a narrow ridgeline, facing down drop-offs of more than 1,000 feet on either side, with only a single chain handrail to help them across the rocky trail.
But if you’re up for the challenge, Angels Landing is truly a bucket-list-worthy trail. At the peak, you’ll be enjoying stunning panoramic views of Zion National Park far below.
Hiking Angels Landing got a bit more tricky in early 2022. Thinking about taking on this iconic trail during your next Zion Wildflower Resort stay? Keep reading to learn what you’ll need to know to hike this trail.
The Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program
With an increasing number of hikers taking on Angels Landing each year, crowding was quickly becoming a problem. During busy summer holiday weekends, lines would sometimes form as hikers waited to hike past Scouts Landing, the point of Angels Landing just before where the narrow ridgeline starts. This was not only dangerous for hikers who were left standing in the bright sun and heat without access to water but also led to potential damage to the delicate ecosystems located throughout the trail.
To manage this growing problem, the National Park Service launched the Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program. Anyone hoping to hike Angels Landing on or after April 1, 2022, needs to have a permit in order to do so.
The permit allows you to hike past Scouts Lookout. Hikers are permitted to hike to this point without a permit. Permits aren’t guaranteed. Instead, hikers will need to enter one of two lotteries to try their hand at obtaining one for their trip.
Your first chance at getting a permit to hike Angels Landing during your Zion Wildflower Resort stay is the Seasonal Lottery. There are four Seasonal Lotteries in 2023. Each is open for 20 days, and at the end will award permits for the following season.
The first Seasonal Lottery of 2023 is open from January 1 to January 20. This lottery will issue permits on January 25 for hiking dates from March 1 to May 31. The second lottery is open from April 1 to April 20, and awards permits on April 25. This lottery will provide permits for hike dates from June 1 to August 31. The third lottery is open from July 1 to July 20. This lottery will be announced on July 25, and provide permits for hike dates from September 1 to November 30. The final lottery will be open from October 1 to October 20, with permits announced on October 25 for hike dates from December 1 to February 29, 2024.
Entering the Seasonal Lottery costs $6, and one entry can be used for up to six hikers. If you receive a permit in the lottery, you’ll need to pay an additional $3 per hiker. You can cancel your permit up to two dates before your hike for a refund of $3 per person. However, the initial $6 fee is non-refundable.
The second lottery is the Day-Before Lottery. As the name suggests, this lottery opens daily, and awards permits for the following day. This lottery opens at 12:01 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m. MT. Permits are issued at 4 p.m. the same day, giving you some time to plan for your hike the following day.
Like the Seasonal Lottery, this lottery costs $6 for up to six hikers to enter. Permits cost an additional $3 per person. Both fees in this lottery are non-refundable.
How to Use Your Permit
If you’re lucky enough to get a permit in one of the two lotteries, there are a few things you’ll need to know in order to use it. The first is to either print your permit or download it on your device ahead of your visit. Cell service in the park can sometimes be unreliable, and you’ll need to be able to show your permit to a ranger on the trail.
Rangers may check permits in two locations. The first is the Grotto, located at Shuttle Stop 6. The second is at Scouts Landing, the point at which hikers will need a permit in order to continue.
It takes most hikers around four hours to complete the trail. Make sure to pack more water than you expect to use, as well as a flashlight with new batteries in case you wind up on the trail later than you thought you would. While the trail is easy to follow, it’s a good idea to pick up a map from the Visitor Center before your hike as well, just in case.
Planning Your Next Angels Landing Hike
If you’re dreaming of hiking Angels Landing in 2023, make sure to take note of the Seasonal Lottery dates. Entering this lottery rather than relying on the Day-Before Lottery will help you increase your odds of receiving a permit.
If you don’t receive a permit, don’t fret; there are plenty of other incredible hiking trails to enjoy in Zion National Park.