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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Zion Park Reworks Online Wilderness Permit System

Canyoneering, hiking and backpacking permits are required to explore many backcountry areas in Zion National Park. Some canyons and routes are very popular and so permits go fast. To make the allocation system more convenient and fair, the pack has reworked the advanced permit system on its website.

The website also has new information on backcountry areas. Click here to see the information and use the online permit system.

The park offers some of the world's best canyonerring routes. Three canyons, in particular, attract massive interest. They are:
  1. The top-down Narrows one day hike
  2. The Subway
  3. Mystery Canyon
Here's an overview of how canyoneering permits for The Subway are now allocated.

The advanced lottery: Entries must be submitted online 3 months prior to your planned trip. Permits are allocated on a random basis.

Advanced reservations: If not all permits are allocated in the lottery, they will be available and can be reserved on-line up to 3 months prior to your trip.

Last minute draw: If permits are still available, they are made available for a last minute draw 7-2 days before the trip date.

Walk-In Permits: If there are still permits available, they can be purchased at the park's backcountry desk the day before the trip date.

Weekends fill up fast. If you want a permit on a weekend during the warm season, your best chance is to apply for the advanced lottery.

If you can be flexible and hike mid-week, you can often find last minute draw permits available.

For me, this system is a big improvement. I like to hike mid-week because trails are usually not as crowded. In the past, I've driven down to the park hoping I can get a last minute permit. Now, I can apply online and get verification if a permit will be available.

Again, if you have set dates and want a weekend permit, you are out of luck this season. But if you can be flexible and hike mid-week, you can probably get a permit.

I think I'll snag a few permits and get down there. A couple friends have been asking me to take them through The Subway. Party size is restricted to 12 individuals. I'll probably only have 5-6 with me, so that will make it easier to get permits.

- Dave Webb


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