Walk-in lottery resumes for popular northern Arizona hike

FILE — In this May 28, 2013, file photo, a hiker walks on a rock formation known as The Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. A walk-in lottery for the popular Arizona hike could move online. Half of the 20 permits for one of the most exclusive and dramatic hiking spots in the southwestern United States remain unavailable during the coronavirus pandemic. The virus hasn’t forced the closure of the Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument along the Arizona-Utah border. But it has suspended a daily, in-person lottery for 10 permits because the agency that oversees it can’t ensure social distancing. (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)

VERMILION CLIFFS NATIONAL MONUMENT, (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has restored a walk-in lottery for one of the most exclusive and dramatic hiking spots in the southwestern United States.

Half of the 20 daily permits for the Wave typically are awarded in-person and half online. The agency suspended the walk-in lottery in March because it couldn’t ensure social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The walk-in lottery resumed Monday in a gymnasium in southern Utah that is larger than the previous space. The Bureau of Land Management said it worked closely with Kane County to develop protections for the public’s health and safety.

The agencies recommended face coverings and said group leaders must bring their own pen or pencil to fill out the application. Only one representative — up to 50 people — per group is allowed in the building. Others could participate from outside for social distancing.

The lottery had drawn more than 100 people at times who crowded into the Kanab Visitor Center to vie for permits for use the following day.

The hike takes visitors 6-miles (9.5-kilometers) round trip through a wide, sloping basin of searing reds, oranges and yellows in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument along the Arizona-Utah border.

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