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Seeking Comments on Wilderness Walk-up Permits

Many visitors wait for hours, or in some cases overnight, to obtain wilderness permits at Zion National Park. Morning lines can be long and delay the start of trips. The park is soliciting comments concerning possible solutions to these problems.

The Zion National Park Wilderness continues to grow in popularity with people from all over the world travelling to the park to experience our slot canyons and trails. Wilderness permits are required for all overnight trips as well as day trips into many of the park's canyons. As the demand for permits has increased, visitors have become more competitive in their efforts to obtain them. The current wilderness permitting system allows visitors to make a reservation to secure permits for about 75% of all trips. Reservations for popular areas are booked as soon as they become available, two to three months in advance.

Permits for the remaining 25% of spaces are given out on a first come first served walk-up basis; (one day in advance and in person at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center). These walk-up spots have also become very desirable. Visitors compete with one another to arrive earliest at the wilderness permits desk. Visitors are often in line and waiting before 3 am the day before a trip.

The wilderness permits desk opens at 7 am during the summer months. Both those with reservations and those hoping to obtain walk-up permits are often forced to wait in line for an hour or more. Long lines frustrate visitors and prevent the wilderness permits desk staff from providing quality customer service.

We are reviewing the issue of long waits to obtain walk-up permits as well as the issue of long morning lines at the wilderness permits desk. Please provide your opinion on what type of experience you would prefer when obtaining a Wilderness Permit at Zion National Park.
Comment Period: 10/24/2011 - 12/15/2011
Topic Questions Instructions:
First, please review the description of the issue for which we are seeking input. Second, please review the topics below and provide your preferences and comments in the areas provided.

Thank you for interest in Zion National Park.
Topic Questions:
1. Would you prefer the current system remain in place?
This means 75% of the spaces may be reserved ahead of time and 25% of permits are available by walk-up only. Walk-ups spaces are awarded on a first come first served basis. Long waits for those wishing to obtain walk-up permits awell as those who have reservations will continue. The postive aspect of this system is that it provides opportunities for those who have not planned ahead.
2. Would you prefer to have all resources available for on-line reservation? Currently 75% are available on line two to three months prior to a trip. This type of reservation would not change. But the other 25% of reservations would be available on-line several days prior to a trip date allowing for last minute planning and reservations. This alternaitve would require the use of the internet for all reservations, but could be done from any location with internet availablility. This option should significantly reduce morning lines. In the future if demand becomes high reservations could be by on-line lottery.
3. Would you prefer to have a manual morning lottery to obtain walk-up spaces? Submit you name in a name into a hat for selection. The lottery would remove the need to arrive early to be first in line. Internet access would not be required. You would be required to be present at the Visitor Center to participate. The length of morning lines would not decrease and may increase due to the time required to administer the lottery. This option would provide opportunities for those who have not planned ahead.
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