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FOX 13 Investigates: Mother, safety expert support planned reservation system at Angels Landing

Posted at 9:54 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 23:54:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s one of the premier hikes in the national park system, and one of the busiest.

“The other reservation pilot that we will be trying is a permit lottery system for Angels Landing,” Cass Bromley, Chief of Resource Management and Research at Zion National Park, said Wednesday at a meeting of the Springdale Town Council.

A National Park Service spokesman said more information would be released Friday and Monday. Bromley gave a few more details Wednesday.

“And this fee will be a $6 per group lottery entry fee,” Bromley said, according to audio of the meeting provided by Springdale. “And for lottery winners, there will be a $3 per-person fee."

“That system will start in 2022,” Bromley added. “So, the first lottery period would open in January for hikes starting in March.”

It’s the first time since the trail’s construction in 1926 that the National Park Service has regulated which visitors hike to Angels Landing. The route most hikers take is a 5-mile roundtrip that gains 1,500 feet in elevation.

Park service data says 300,000 people ascended the trail in 2019. Some months see an average of 1,200 people a day hiking to Angels Landing, enjoying panoramas of the American Southwest that look great on social media. Then there’s this photo Zion National Park Tweeted on Memorial Day weekend. There was a four-hour wait to begin the hike.

Thirteen people have fallen from the trail to Angels Landing since 2000.

“I guess the reservations are a step in the right direction,” said Margie Barron, of St. George.

Barron’s 42-year-old son Corbin McMillen fell from the trail and died in February.

“If he had to make a reservation then maybe he would have made it when he knew the weather would be better – maybe later in the spring,” she said.

Read - Hikers pay deadly price on Zion's Angels Landing trail

“I think my idea would probably be easier, and that’s to have one or two rangers on the trails,” she added.

“I just think people are more careful if they see an authority figure nearby.”

Travis Heggie, a professor at Bowling Green State University who studies injuries and deaths in the national parks, is waiting to hear whether the reservation system will include a safety lesson for applicants.

“If you give them that message while people are still at home in the planning stage,” Heggie said, “that’s when they’re most likely to prepare for a safer experience.”

The park service is also expected to discuss how many people will be permitted on the trail and whether children will still be allowed. Two of the 13 deaths on the trail to Angels Landing have been kids.

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