The popularity of the Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park has increased to the point of causing safety concerns recently. Videos and photos posted online and to social media have helped to drive thousands of hikers to the scary yet rewarding hike.
The National Park Service posted the video below recently to show the crowds waiting in line to make the final half of the hike to Angels Landing.
From the National Park Service post:
Pretend you are a park manager. How do you fix this complex problem? Make sure that you try to preserve the values described below.
Problem: Crowding on Angels Landing.
Reasons to fix the problem: Safety concerns, stress on park infrastructure, and poor visitor experience.
A solution must:
- protect the park while maintaining access to the trail (you can't close or significantly alter the historic trail).
- be fair and apply to all user groups equally (you can't exclude or favor one particular group of visitors).
- be able to be implemented with current park resources or resources generated by the solution (you can't build new trails to substitute for Angels Landing).
- prevent another trail from becoming the next Angels Landing (you can't end up shifting the problem to somewhere else).
- be supported by rigorous study (you can't put a plan in place without evidence that it is needed and that your plan is an appropriate response).
- stay within the scope of the park (you can't force outside groups to be a part of your plan, but you can try to build new partnerships).
- consider the input from park partners and other groups (changes within the park will affect stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels).
Good solutions exist, but they take time to craft and implement and often end up being a compromise between all these vaues.
Zion National Park is working toward a solution. The Draft Visitor Use Management Plan will be open for public comment later this year.