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Zion, Yosemite National Parks adding lotteries for sites and hikes

Getting a summer campsite at Yosemite National Park last summer felt like winning the lottery. In 2022, winning the lottery is exactly what you’ll have to do. The same goes if you’re planning to hike the Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park.

Officials at Yosemite National Park announced Friday, Dec. 3, that they will start a new reservation system where winners of a lottery will get the first chance to make campsite reservations in the park’s North Pines Campground in 2022.

Park officials said they are trying to make it a bit “less competitive” for lottery winners to make reservations early in the access window.

How can I apply for the lottery?

The North Pines Campground, with just 80 sites, is a very sought-after gem located in Yosemite Valley along the Merced River. It’s also near a popular trailhead. Park officials said most campgrounds in the park are completely full throughout the summer, with demand far exceeding availability.

“On the busiest on-sale dates, reservations sell out in minutes,” Yosemite officials said in a news release about the campsite lottery. “Hopeful campers take days off work and recruit family and friends to simultaneously try to make any possible reservation. Still, many are unsuccessful year after year, causing frustration, disappointment, and feeling the system is flawed and unfair.”

If you want to apply for the North Pines Campground Lottery, you can go to the recreation.gov website between January 18 and February 6. Winners will be selected February 10 and then be able to make their reservations from February 18 to March 10 for stays between July 21 and September 14.

How many winners will there be?

The recreation.gov website will randomly select only 640 lottery winners. If there are any sites left after March 10, they will be made available on the usual on-sale dates, which are five months in advance, on the 15th of each month.

There is a non-refundable $10 fee to enter the lottery. If you’re lucky enough to win a lottery spot, the cost of a campsite will be $36 a night.

It will be a few weeks yet before recreation.gov begins adding lottery information to its website. You might want to bookmark this site if you’re interested in Yosemite camping next year.

Zion using lottery for requiring hiking reservations

Zion National Park is also getting innovative in efforts to stem the tide of overuse by visitors. Hikers on the Park’s popular Angels Landing hike will be required to have a reservation as of April 1, 2022.

Zion officials will also be using a lottery system to divvy up the reservation permits. Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said the lottery system will be fairer to all visitors. Crowding is a real concern on the trail, since it skirts a sheer cliff where a few hikers fall and die every year. Attendance at Zion National Park has exploded in recent years, from 2.8 million visitors in 2011 to 4.5 million in 2019.

Park officials said Angels Landing saw more than 300,000 people hike the trail in 2019.

The hike lottery will cost $6 to enter (non-refundable), and winners must pay an additional $3 for the permit. There will be two actual lotteries, one seasonal and another for one day ahead of planned hikes. Park officials haven’t disclosed how many people will be allowed on the trail each day.

##RVT1030b

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Laura A. Hamlin
1 month ago

You’re right Lazy Q – Not worth it. We camped about 30 minutes from there last fall – it is amazing the amount of humans swarming the park. No going back for sure.

The Lazy Q
1 month ago

I can’t join in crazy, 2 more spots off my list.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

I am SO glad we ‘did’ most of these popular parks years ago. YEARS ago when we just drove in and visited. This current situation would drive me crazy.