Headed to Zion National Park? What you should know in advance of Memorial Day weekend

An undated file photo from 2017 shows hiker descending the Angels Landing route with near 1,000-foot drops on both side, Zion National Park, Utah | Photo by Caitlin Ceci/Zion National Park, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — Memorial Day weekend is a time to honor the sacrifices of those who died serving the country. It also marks the unofficial start of summer and the busiest weekend for Zion National Park. This year, more than 85,000 visitors are expected over the four-day weekend, according to a press release issued by the park.

Springdale entrance of Zion National Park. Zion National Park, Utah, Feb. 22, 2020 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News

While the park is increasing staff, visitors should expect crowded conditions and long lines. Parking typically fills by 8 a.m. MT, so visitors entering later should plan on parking in Springdale and walking or taking the free town shuttle to the “Pedestrian Entrance” walk-in gate, the release states. Once parking is full, vehicle admittance into the park will be metered based upon availability.

The Zion Mount Carmel Highway may be closed to through traffic periodically when parking has filled in order to safely relieve congestion both east and west of the large tunnel and to restore traffic flow. Alternative routes include: Highway 59 /Arizona Highway 389, Highway 14 and Highway 20.

The park encourages visitors who can be flexible with their schedule to visit Friday or Monday rather than Saturday or Sunday, as well as consider arriving early or starting their visit after 3 p.m. to avoid the greatest crowding.

Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said in the release that visitors should be prepared.

“With a great many people visiting, please show additional patience with others and respectful trail etiquette,” he said. “And remember that safety is your responsibility, so please avoid unsafe behaviors and risk-taking. Multiple emergencies are common during busy periods, stretching the availability of search and rescue, emergency medical and fire-fighting capabilities.”

This file photo shows the queue to hike Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

The temporary shuttle ticket system for the Zion Canyon portion of the park is in effect. Advance tickets are sold out, but additional tickets will go on sale here at 5 p.m. MT each night for the next day. See the park website for more information on shuttle tickets and additional opportunities in the park.

This year, similar to 2019, park staff will also be managing the queue that forms at Scout Lookout for visitors wanting to hike Angels Landing. Visitors will queue in the Grotto area and be metered on to the trail. This will reduce crowding on the chains section and allow visitors to wait at the Grotto where there are restrooms, running water and shade.

Lines of several hours are possible, so hikers should be prepared. Hikers who want to stop at Scout Lookout or continue up the West Rim Trail without hiking the chain section to Angels Landing will not be required to wait at the Grotto.

In this file photo, visitors line up for shuttle access to Zion National Park, Utah, circa 2017 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

Park visitors are reminded to “Know before you go”: research the park and the activity you plan to do and potential hazards you may encounter, be realistic about your limits and of those traveling with you and identify the right equipment for your trip and test it and/or try it out before you go.

The West Rim Trail from the Grotto to Lava Point is approximately 14 miles long with 5800′ of elevation gain. Visitors should be prepared to hike in the heat, with plenty of water and proper footwear.

Park visitors are reminded to recreate responsibility and plan ahead. This includes knowing the local fire restrictions. Beginning Wednesday, no campfires are allowed in Zion National Park. Firefighters are responding to increasing numbers of human-caused wildfires across the region and increasing fire danger is expected for the summer months.

The National Park Service requests the public’s cooperation utilizing Leave No Trace practices throughout Zion National Park. The park also encourages visitors to take the Zion National Park Pledge.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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