Popular Utah hikes come down to chance; locals weigh in

Apr 5, 2022, 7:45 PM | Updated: Jun 11, 2022, 11:22 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Getting to hike some of Utah’s most popular trails comes down to chance.

No secret that the secret’s out. This popularity is leading some of the most popular parks and trails in Utah to turn to the lottery system to help regulate big crowds.

“I love people coming here and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, what a beautiful state.’ However, there’s a lot of people coming and saying that,” said David Anthony, who is an avid outdoorsman.

Anthony said recently, he made it a priority to hike Angels Landing before it came down to chance.

“Got home at like 9 o’clock, so I did it on no sleep. It was worth the risk. I didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t want to risk the chance 0f having to do the lottery system,” Anthony said.

Hiking, biking, climbing — Stephen Lindsay’s been doing it all for years in Utah.

He says the lottery is an inconvenience, but unfortunately needed.

“There’s plenty of other beautiful places that aren’t going to be a backdrop to your Microsoft screensaver, like what’s happened to the Wave… you just kind of got to go away from the crowds,” Lindsay said.

Whit Bunting, field manager for the Kanab Field Office, which oversees around 554,000 acres of BLM land, including the Wave, can speak to the need for the lottery.

“I would say, in the last four years, we’ve noticed significant increase, getting to the point where it became non-sustainable in terms of staffing the numbers we were trying to accommodate, and then you throw COVID on top of that,” Bunting said.

Anthony said he wants to see a resolution.

“I do think the locals should get some sort of benefit, or, you know, they should have a certain time slot for locals to go. I know it’s a national park, but we still have to maintain the roads,” Anthony said.

One thing is for certain: The parks are popular for a reason.

“Social media is pushing certain locations to get really popular. More people have a bucket list, and it’s easy to be critical of that… We all want to see the same beautiful places that are in Utah. It’s kind of a catch 22,” Lindsay said.

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Popular Utah hikes come down to chance; locals weigh in