Zion National Park expecting influx of visitors President’s Day weekend

Zion National Park's entrance monument, Washington County, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — Thousands of Zion National Park visitors are expected over the President’s Day Weekend beginning Feb. 16, 2018. The town of Springdale, Zion National Park and Utah Department of Transportation are asking visitors with flexible plans to consider visiting the park at a less crowded time.

“We need the public’s help to manage these high volumes” Springdale Mayor Stanley J. Smith said. “Limited parking and roadway congestion are always issues in the Zion canyon during holiday weekends, and this weekend is no exception. If they are coming to Zion for the holiday, we want visitors to understand the situation before they arrive”

Road construction in Springdale, Utah, Dec. 28, 2017 | Photo by Paul Dail, St. George News

Exacerbating the already narrow state Route 9 through Zion canyon is the Utah Department of Transportation’s reconstruction project which includes one-way traffic, flagging and traffic stoppages leading into and out of the south entrance of Zion National Park.

Although the project is being done over the winter, the lowest park visitation time period, to accomplish the extensive reconstruction of SR-9, work will be ongoing through mid-April.  Recent high-visitation weekends during the construction project have generated traffic stoppages of 90 minutes or longer as a mass of automobiles enter Springdale en route to the park.

Springdale, Zion National Park and UDOT are working together to manage conditions and set expectations for park visitors this President’s Day weekend.

“If you can’t shift your travel to lower volume dates, plan ahead and know that traffic is expected to back up at several locations in the town and when entering and exiting the park,” UDOT Project Manager Chris Hall said.

Parking is extremely limited in the park and town. Visitors choosing to walk to from Springdale may need to walk up to three miles to reach the pedestrian entrance to Zion National Park located in Zion Canyon Village.

Visitors line up for shuttle access to Zion National Park, Utah, circa 2017 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

To facilitate visitor access, Zion National Park will resume weekend-only, in-park shuttle service Saturday and has opened additional parking for early arrivals. Some additional overflow parking is available in Springdale.

“We are incorporating additional traffic and vehicle parking options to maintain a safe and enjoyable visitor experience at Zion Park,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. “With the delays and scarcity of parking, we ask for everyone’s patience and attention to safety whether a driver, passenger or pedestrian.”

Shuttle buses will depart the park’s Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 7 a.m. heading up-canyon to designated trail head stops with the last bus of the evening returning from the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9) at 6:45 p.m. back to the visitor center. This same schedule will operate on Sunday, Feb. 18, and then again on the weekends of Feb. 24-25 and March 3-4.

The town shuttle will not be running those weekends. Full season daily shuttle services in the park and in Springdale, pending road construction, will begin March 10 and run through late fall.

UDOT is fully reconstructing SR-9 through the town of Springdale, improving utilities and drainage and adding wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The project is being constructed during the lowest Park visitation time frame to reduce impacts to traffic and businesses. It is on schedule to be completed in mid-April.


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