RECREATION

Days after flooding, Zion National Park expects crowded weekend

Jul 2, 2021, 4:46 PM
crowded zion national park...
FILE - This Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, shows Zion National Park near Springdale, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SPRINGDALE, Utah — Just days after flash floods forced rangers to close trails, canyons and roads, Zion National Park expects a crowded July 4th holiday weekend. 

In a news release, park officials advised visitors to expect long lines and crowded trails, along with hot temperatures and continuing flood clean-up. 

Currently, the Watchman Trail remains closed after flash flooding ripped through the park earlier in the week. The National Park Service said delays and debris on roadways could continue while they assess damage and clean-up. 

Crowded Zion means parking, travel challenges

Parking at Zion National Park tends to fill up quickly, with lots full before 9 a.m. on multiple days in the month of June. Holiday weekends can attract even more visitors than normal. However, the town of Springdale offers some parking for visitors to take a free shuttle to the park entrance. 

“Once parking is full, vehicle admittance into the park will be metered based upon availability,” the park service said in a news release. “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.” 

In addition to road damage and repair, visitors can expect traffic slowdowns because of the holiday itself. The town of Springdale hosts a parade on July 3, 2021; traffic will be stopped between 9 and 9:30 a.m.

Drivers who need to access either side of Zion National Park should consider alternate routes, including Utah S.R. 59 / Arizona Highway 389, Utah S.R. 14, and Utah S.R. 20. 

Two shuttle routes provide Zion National Park visitors with access to trails and attractions, but visitors must wear face masks on the shuttle, park officials say. 

Fire restrictions, other concerns

Extreme Utah drought conditions mean local fire restrictions remain in place for Zion National Park. Visitors may not ignite campfires inside park boundaries as a result. Similarly, fireworks and other “pyrotechnic devices” are prohibited on federal public lands, including the park, the NPS said. 

Crowded lines for water fountains and restroom facilities at Zion should not tempt you to seek drinking water from the Virgin River, park officials say. The park service continues to monitor cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins in multiple tributaries of the river. Visitors should avoid either swimming or submerging their heads under water, and you should never drink any in-stream water in the park. 

Finally, weather conditions can change fast, as demonstrated by this week’s flash floods. Check the forecast before you go, and stay out of slot canyons when rain is expected. 

Read more: 

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Days after flooding, Zion National Park expects crowded weekend