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Your Guide to Backcountry Permits in Zion National Park

Posted: May 22, 2018 | MountainBased Team

If the harrowing footage of hiking Angels’ Landing has inspired you to finally book your trip to Zion National Park, we have you covered! If you’re looking for a fully guided and planned trip to some or all of Utah’s Mighty 5, check out our summer trips. But, if you’re more the do-it-yourself type of person, or are looking to spend a few days in Zion’s backcountry, here’s what you need to know:

Permits in Zion National Park

Most hikes in Zion National Park are open to the public throughout the year. However, the more popular hikes like The Narrows and The Subway require advance permits in order to explore.

All technical canyoneering requires a permit, as does backcountry backpacking, bivouac climbing, and river trips.

Permits open on the 5th at 10am MST three months before your desired trip date. So, if you’re planning a trip in July, jump online April 5th at 10am to make your reservation.

According to the Zion National Park website, permit requests have increased 15% in the last few years, and many sell out minutes or hours after the request window opens. Your chances are higher when requesting a weekday trip, so if your plans are flexible, that’s probably the best way to go.

Backpacking Permits

Backpacking permits can be obtained through a similar online reservation system through the parks service up to three months in advance. Reservations require a $5 deposit, while the actual permit cost varies depending on group size: 1-2 people is $15, 3-7 is $20, and 8-12 is $25. So bring your friends!

Zion National Park also reserves 1/3 of their available permits for day-before and day-of walk-ins.

Canyoneering Permits

If you’re planning to drop into a technical slot canyon in Zion National Park you’ll need a canyoneering permit to do so. As with other permits at Zion, canyoneering permits can be bought three months before the desired trip date on the 5th at 10am MST. This includes the top-down Narrows hike permit.

Due to the volume of requests, The Subway and Mystery Canyon are now both on a lottery system. If you don’t succeed in the lottery, don’t worry! There’s a last minute lottery held 2-7 days before your trip date. A number of permits are also available from the visitors center every day.

Hiking Permits

Hiking permits are not required in Zion National Park except for the one-day Narrows hike. So if you’re looking to test your fear of heights along the spine of Angel’s Landing, or make the 14 mile trek to Kolob Arch, feel free to take off with your hiking boots and plenty of water.

If you are embarking on a desert hike, check out the 7 Desert Essentials.

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