Yes you need a permit to hike or visit the Subway
The Subway in Zion National Park is one of the most sought after parts of the park. Known for its tunnel-like form that encloses hikers and backpackers, the Subway is an unbelievable part of Zion. It is my personal favorite hike within the park by far!
Because of the sheer number of articles and blogs out there regarding permits to the Subway, it seems like most hikers and backpackers to the area don’t realize you need a permit to visit or hike the Subway. I was part of that group for a long time until I took steps to actually hike it.
A permit is required to hike the Subway
Because of the volume of interested hikers and backpackers in the Subway, Zion National Park instituted a permit system that includes a lottery.
A “wilderness permit” issued from Zion National Park is required for all hikers or backpackers looking to see the Subway. This includes both the “bottom-up” and “top-down routes.”
What types of permits are available for the Subway?
There are two types of permits available for the subway: the advance reservations and last-minute drawing reservations. Both types of permits are through a lottery system issued by Zion National Park.
The advance reservations for the Subway are for those who like to plan ahead- myself included. This is how I’ve gotten permits to the Subway.
The reservations are through the online portal system and available dates can be booked 3 months in advance. A different way of putting this is if you want to hike the Subway on a particular day and month, subtract three months from that day, and that’s when you can start applying for that permit.
Here’s a quick guide for when you can apply for permits to the Subway:
- January dates: apply in October
- February dates: apply in November
- March dates: apply in December
- April dates: apply in January
- May dates: apply in February
- June dates: apply in March
- July dates: apply in April
- August dates: apply in May
- September dates: apply in June
- October dates: apply in July
- November dates: apply in August
- December dates: apply in September
No matter what month you apply for, you are required to submit 3 available dates for when you want to hike the Subway. In addition, entries are limited to once per month- meaning that you cannot apply for permits every day of the month.
If you’re looking for a last-minute trip to the Subway, you’re in luck! The last-minute drawings by Zion National Park might be your ticket to scoring a permit to hike to the Subway!
The last-minute drawings are available year-round, 7-2 days within the date you want to go. For example, if you want to hike to the Subway on July 14, last-minute drawings for that date will be available from July 7-12.
While these permits are harder to get than the advance reservations, cancellations for trips do happen from time-to-time, making it a viable option for those looking to get permits to hike the Subway.
I personally haven’t had success with the last-minute drawings and have opted to get my permits through the advance reservations instead. That being said, you may find luck with the last-minute drawings for your permit!
How much do Subway hiking permits cost?
Permits for the Subway depend on the size of your group. Regardless if you go the route of applying for permits via the advance reservation or the last-minute drawing, the fees are the same.
Permit cost to hike the Subway:
- 1-2 hikers: $15.00/group
- 3-7 hikers: $20.00/group
- 8-12 hikers $25.00/group
All permits also include a non-refundable lottery application fee of $5.00 per group. Once you apply for your Subway permits, if you successfully score them, you’ll be notified via email. Permits are picked up at the Zion National Park Visitor’s Center.
How do I get a permit for the Subway?
It’s as simple as applying online! Both the advanced reservations and last-minute drawings can be applied for via the Zion National Park site.
From my own personal experience, I recommend getting all the details of your trip worked out with at least 3 trip dates picked out for the month you want to go.
Having all of your trip details, itinerary, and group’s contact information all squared away can increase your likelihood of getting hiking permits for the Subway.
Plain and simple, you need a permit to hike or visit the Subway in Zion National Park.
Because of the popularity of the Subway, Zion National Park instituted a permitting lottery for interested hikers and backpackers. Fortunately, applying for permits to the Subway is relatively easy to accomplish, compared to “The Wave.”
The two ways you can apply for permits: advance reservations and the last-minute drawings, ensure that if you plan your trip and itinerary, with a little bit of luck, you should be able to snag hiking permits for the Subway!
- Online permit applications
- Hiking and backpacking guide to the Subway
- Zion National Park general information
Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he’s not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.