In recent years, many areas of Utah have seen a huge uptick in the number of visitors. Zion, Bryce, and many other parks are experiencing record numbers of visitors. The same can be said for the popular Kanarra Falls near Kanarraville, Utah.
Kanarra Falls is a gorgeous, photogenic trail. It is made from Kanarra Creek flowing through a beautiful red rock slot canyon. The canyon leads to a stunning waterfall. Along the waterfall is a propped-up ladder, which may be the most popular part of the entire trail.
The number of visitors the trail receives has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2017 alone, an estimated 45,000 people hiked the famous Kanarra Falls trail. This means that the trail has experienced immense overcrowding.
It was announced on Monday at the Iron City Commission meeting that, to help to reduce this overcrowding, an $8 permit will be needed to hike the falls beginning on May 1st. For now, there will not be any limit on the number of permits that can be sold each day. The town is hoping that the cost of the $8 permit will help deter at least a small amount of people from using the trail. If it does not have the impact they hope, a daily quota may be put in place in the future.
While most permit systems are implemented to raise money for the city they are obtained from, the Kanarra permits have been put in place simply as a small barrier to entry to deter large groups and frequent visits. Among the proponents of this permit system is David Ence, Kanarraville town clerk. “The goal of the permits is not to raise money for the city,” Ence said. “The goal is to reduce the number of people who go up the trail.”
It can’t be foreseen whether this permit system will have the desired effect, but officials are prepared to take further action to reduce trail traffic. By reducing the number of people on the trail each year, Kanarra Falls will be preserved for much longer so that its beauty can be enjoyed for years to come.
Previously, there was a $10 per vehicle fee that was charged for parking at the trailhead. Since this was a per vehicle fee, it did not serve to keep large groups out of the trail. By making each person who visits the trail pay for the $8 permit, it is likely that fewer people will visit.
To purchase a permit, guests can go online or use the new kiosk that is placed at the trailhead. To purchase a permit online, visitors will have to visit the Kanarra Falls website and apply for one. Permits can be paid for and printed out for ease of use.
While implementing this system will be a big change, with each visitor’s cooperation it should be a seamless transition from the current parking fee to the new permit requirement.
“Hopefully people will be patient with the new system and it’ll be a big success,” Ence said.
Visitors can also purchase a permit at the kiosk, which will be attended by an official seven days a week from 7 am to 7 pm. The kiosk will only accept credit cards, so purchasing the permit online is the easiest way to gain entry to the trail.
A permit must be purchased for every single hiker on the trail. Once the permit system is in place, parking at the trailhead and in the city will be free. The kiosk attendant will scan each permit, so they will not be able to be used again.
The position for kiosk attendant is a position created by the city, so in addition to helping to preserve the trail, this new permit system has also created important jobs for the area.
This permit system is something that has been used in many popular areas of Utah. Popular trails, including The Subway in Zion National Park and The Wave near Kanab, have both implemented similar permit systems to reduce the number of hikers who used them. At these popular areas, a quota has been implemented to help to cut back on the number of visitors since the cost of the permit was not enough of a deterrent.
In addition to helping preserve the trails, these permit systems help to give visitors an authentic experience while hiking the trails. Visiting these trails and having to deal with large crowds seriously diminishes the special experience that hikes through these trails should provide.
Overcrowding can also lead to dangerous conditions, with visitors pushing past each other, getting in each other’s way, and having large numbers of inexperienced hikers together on the trail. These dangerous conditions created by overcrowding can be a huge liability, so this permit system is a way to protect the city from such liabilities, as well.
While no one wants to create more barriers to enter America’s beautiful locations, this permit system is necessary to keep Kanarra Falls beautiful and enjoyable for generations to come. City officials hope that the implementation of this permit system will go smoothly, and many people will still be able to enjoy the wonder of Kanarra Falls.