National parks expecting lots of traffic this Memorial Day

May 27, 2021, 4:09 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm
Zion National Park Canyon Overlook Trail will get a new look for the summer....
Sunset in Zion National Park. (Photo: Dan Bammes)
(Photo: Dan Bammes)

Traffic had been steadily increasing in Utah’s five national parks prior to COVID-19, and big crowds are expected this Memorial Day weekend as the pandemic wanes.

Springdale, located just outside the west entrance to Zion National Park, is one of the gateway communities where traffic will be heavy and parking at a premium. The Spectrum in St. George reported traffic in Springdale had increased by 10% in the five years prior to the pandemic, and Moab also experienced a large increase.

Springdale Mayor Stan Smith says the pandemic has affected his community’s ability to manage the crowds.

“Employee shortages, so the restaurants are going to be really busy, and won’t be fully staffed,” Smith told KSL Newsradio.

But he has a recommendation for visitors to help them manage some of the difficulties. It’s the Greater Zion smartphone app.

“It will show you where parking is available in real time. That will help you out as far as trying to find a parking spot, and also give you great information on hiking the different trails,” Smith said.

While the trails inside Zion are popular with visitors, there are many outside the park that are being discovered as well, especially as more visitors use the eastern entrance to the park from Highway 89.

“The eastside initiative is something that’s really exciting,” said Mayor Smith, “and when it’s completed, it will actually put about the same amount of trail system outside the park as the park has inside.”

Private vehicle travel is restricted inside Zion National Park, and tickets for the shuttle are limited to specific times when visitors can board at the park Visitor’s Center. Masks are still required for everyone on public transportation and for those who are not yet fully vaccinated.

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National parks expecting lots of traffic this Memorial Day