Zion National Park News Release
May 22, 2020
For Immediate Release
Limited Operations for Memorial Day Weekend
SPRINGDALE, UT – Memorial Day Weekend is a time to honor the sacrifice of those who have fallen serving our country. It marks the unofficial start of summer and is traditionally Zion National Park’s busiest weekend. In previous years, over 80,000 people have visited the park over the four-day holiday weekend. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting public health and limiting park operations, the public should expect fewer available trails, activities, and services this summer. The park is currently open for day use only unless staying at the Zion Lodge or Watchman Campground. No entry fees are being charged at this time. As the park has planned a phased resumption of operations that will likely span several months, visitors need to check the park website before their visit at nps.gov/zion to see what activities are currently available and what facilities may be closed.
Park managers ask for the public’s patience given the attention to public health and safety. When determining what services and facilities could be made available, park managers followed White House, CDC, and Utah Health Department guidance. Decisions are made in the interest of protecting the health of both the public and park employees. One of the most significant changes due to social distancing guidelines is the temporary shutdown of the park shuttle bus system, including shuttles in the town of Springdale. This means that the park can only accommodate visitation based on the limited number of parking spots in specific areas of the park. Parking will fill early. Once full, additional vehicles can only be allowed in that area after parking spaces become available. With more vehicular traffic expected, walkers and cyclists must adhere to safety requirements along roadways and proceed single file to reduce potential conflicts with vehicles. Likewise, motorists must pay attention to pedestrian and bicyclists safety in road corridors. If traffic becomes too congested, access to portions of the park may be temporarily suspended until traffic clears. This ensures access to emergencies by first responders along the Park road corridors. There is additional parking in Springdale near the park’s Pedestrian Entrance walk-in bridge. The last entry up the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive above Canyon Junction is 6 p.m.
Many of the trails in Zion Canyon are open, and the Zion Lodge is offering limited services such as take-out food, some lodging, and the gift shop. Canyon Trail Rides have resumed for visitors interested in a tour on horseback. Angels Landing (chain section) and the Canyon Overlook trail are closed for social distancing concerns and because hikers must use shared chains and handrails. The Kolob Canyons area also remains closed, as well as activities that require a permit such as climbing, canyoneering and backcountry camping.
Law enforcement rangers will be increasing safety patrols to Angels Landing and other closed areas due to ongoing closure violations.
“Visitors should come prepared, both for crowded conditions, and for the activities they are planning,” said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “With a great many people visiting, please be patient with others and remember to use COVID-19 sanitation practices. Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. 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.”
Visitors who can be flexible with their schedule are encouraged to visit Friday or Monday rather than Saturday or Sunday. Consider arriving early or after 3:00 p.m. to avoid the greatest crowding. Visitors should have alternate plans in the region if the park has reached capacity. Nearby communities and public lands have many options for lodging and recreational activities.
The NPS requests the public’s cooperation by avoiding crowds and adhering to social distancing, wearing a face mask, and utilizing Leave No Trace practices.