Express Ticket to the Subway Top-Down Route, Zion National Park

A guest Rave by Sarah Stratton

I also headed out to the Left Fork, the Subway, for some springtime fun with friends. Conditions were ideal and we had a fantastic day. We found the re-located and well-cairned trail easily and happily splashed through the canyon.


What was NEW was where I didn't visit on this Subway trip: the Wilderness Desk to get a permit.

Even though I've been a Springdale resident for years, I hadn't tried out the new Express Permits system. But especially with the new Last Minute Drawing system (versus then old in-person, day-before permit system), and ease of the online Express system, if you come in to Zion more than once per year, it's worthwhile to sign up for the Express System. If you've never reserved or picked up a permit for a Zion canyon, check out Wilderness Permits on our site.

So, how to Express? Well, you do have to visit the Wilderness Desk once to begin with. They'll have you watch a few safety videos and fill out a signup sheet, creating a password for yourself. It costs nothing to sign up for the Express Permit System. After they activate your account, you can reserve permits, sign up for a lottery (either the 3 month or Last Minute), pay for and print your permits. For official explanation, check out the NPS Wilderness Permits Homepage. Once you sign into your account and make online reservations, it links your activity to your Express account.


The Express system also saves you money; when you reserve through your Express page, the $5.00 reservation fee is then applied toward your permit cost. Which is NOT true if just reserving online, then picking up at the Wilderness Desk.

Wait... you say you're in Springdale without a printer? Oh, me too! That's why I went to the Springdale Library on Lion Blvd to print my permit for 10 cents. You can print your permit up to three days ahead of time as well.

The printout is easy. Just detach the bottom portion, place it in your vehicle and take the upper portion with you through the canyon. How great is this?! I will not miss the days of 5am standing-in-line to get a permit for the next day.