Zion National Park’s wilderness permitting process evaluated, public comment invited

zion national park
Undated photo of the sign at the east entrance of Zion National Park, Utah | File photo, St. George News

ZION NATIONAL PARK – Zion National Park is seeking public comment on the park’s wilderness permitting procedures (formerly called backcountry permitting) and the demands placed on the public by the current system.

The park is exploring possible adjustments to the permitting procedures to improve visitor services and experiences.

Public comments will be considered during the development of 
an updated permitting plan scheduled for release by Feb. 1, 2012.

Areas and activities within the park that require wilderness permits continue to grow in popularity. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips, as well as day trips into many of the park’s slot canyons. As the demand for a limited number of wilderness permits has increased, so has the competition.

Many visitors wait for hours or, in some cases, overnight to obtain wilderness permits for activities within Zion. The current wilderness permitting system allows visitors to secure permits through a reservation system for roughly 75 percent of all areas. Reservations for permits in the most popular sections of the park are often booked two to three months in advance. The remaining permits are issued up to one day in advance on a first-come-first-served basis at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. The demand for the first-come-first-served permits results in long lines and significant waits. The park is seeking to resolve these issues and improve operations.

The public is invited to provide comments through December 15, 2011. Please visit the park’s website on park planning to review the document and submit comments.

Alternatively, comments may also be mailed to Zion National Park, Zion Wilderness Permits, Springdale, UT 84767.

For additional information, please contact Ray O’Neil at 435-772-7823 or Annette Werderich at 435-772-7611.

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