Last updated: 01:00 PM ET, Tue September 29 2015

Zion National Park Reevaluating Permit System in Wake of Deadly Flood

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | September 29, 2015

Zion National Park Reevaluating Permit System in Wake of Deadly Flood

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Utah's Zion National Park is weighing the possibility of changing its permit policy in wake of this month's tragic fatal flash flooding that killed seven hikers, Salt Lake City's Fox 13 reported.

In addition to reexamining its permit system as it pertains to back-country exploration and canyoneering, the popular tourist attraction is "reevaluating the whole operation" after a group of travelers from California and Nevada were killed by surging floodwaters inside a narrow canyon at the park.

An ongoing "after-action review" conducted by park rangers will determine whether the park should be assessed any blame for the tragedy. 

But even prior to this month's tragic incident, the park has remained in constant contact with the National Weather Service. In addition to its social media pages, the park's current policy is to post weather conditions on each individual permit.

What's more, under the current system, the park does not issue permits if there is even a moderate risk of a flash flood. In this case, the hikers were warned of the potential dangers that flash flooding poses in canyon environments, but accepted the risk.

Earlier this month, park spokesman David Eaker told the Associated Press that since the process for issuing canyon entry permits is determined at the national level, "any changes would likely need to come from the top down."

The seven hikers, aged 51 to 59, were killed Sept. 14 after being trapped inside the canyon amid a severe rainstorm. 

"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to those affected by the flash flooding in Keyhole Canyon," Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in a statement via the AP earlier this month. "The canyoneers along with their families and friends are in our thoughts."

The canyon is a popular one among park visitors as canyoneering experts consider it entry level. The AP reported that as many as 80 people visit the canyon in a given day. 

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