Zion Canyon hiking route to require permit for first time

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption You have to pay a $30 fee to hike the 27,500-foot Zion Canyon in Utah

The climbing route at the base of Utah’s Zion National Park will require a permit for the first time from 4 November.

The climbing challenges along the 27,500-foot (8,200-metre) summit are considered some of the steepest and most beautiful on the planet.

The hike takes hikers about 10 miles (16km) up through the winding Zion Canyon and up to the top.

Visitors with certain hiking and climbing equipment can trek along the route without a permit, although only members of a special group of families are now allowed to do so.

Riders will also require a permit if they are climbing Zion Canyon’s stable Altar Arch.

Image copyright ZION NATIONAL PARK Image caption Altar Arch was first climbed in 1929 but severely damaged by lightning in 2008

The climbing permit application and an additional $20 to cover insurance for the group is made by phone to the Zion Mountaineering School in Sandy, Utah.

The only other time in recent history that the climbing routes at Zion Canyon were restricted to families was in 2013, when part of a notorious climbing route became unstable and was closed indefinitely.

According to National Park Service permits, hikers on the hiking trail will not be limited to larger groups, except for children under the age of 8.

The children are allowed to join a group up to a total of 10 other children and a permit will be issued to get the children to the top.

Image copyright Andy Riley Image caption The routes leading up to the top of the mountain can be described as breathtaking, but very difficult to descend

The climb is not officially counted as a “challenge”, but the route in specific, said NPS spokeswoman Alyssa Varicelli.

In addition to the one-hour, 20-minute hike, participants will also receive three meals and a continental breakfast.

Zion Canyon was renamed Altar Arch in 2010, by the National Park Service after an estimated 1,400 years of cave paintings were found there.

Original guides to the route were said to have placed jewels to protect the cave paintings from uninvited visitors.

Its foundation has been eroded by erosion and weathering since the early 1990s, and the photographs of the cave in the Book of Mormon were considered evidence of an Ancient Maya civilisation.

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