News & Events

NPS - Zion National Park considers limiting visitors due to increased land erosion, ‘overwhelmed’ facilities

Oct 17, 2016

FILE - This Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, shows Zion National Park near Springdale, Utah. Officials at Zion National Park have scheduled a series of public meetings to discuss challenges facing the park as it continues to draw record numbers of visitors. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Zion National Park may limit the number of visitors who can access its trails and campgrounds during peak times.

It's one of several strategies park officials have outlined for a possible visitor use management plan to reduce wear and tear on the land.

"We haven't found the perfect answer," said park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus. "I think it's going to take a lot of little things."

With an anticipated record of 4 million visitors coming to the park this year — which would be up from 3.66 million in 2015 — officials are grasping for solutions to "overwhelmed" facilities, eroding soil and threatened cultural resources, according to a news release. In an effort to balance visitor use with measures to prevent irreparable impact on the land, park managers created the strategies list as a response to strained daily operations and overcrowding.

The ideas, which came from public meetings in May, include capping the number of daily visitors through a reservation system, eliminating first-come first-served campgrounds, fortifying the soil on trails and enforcing the seating capacity on shuttles.

The park is seeking further comment from visitors on the ideas with seven public comment meetings (see list).

"We are really here for the people," Baltrus said. "The better the feedback we have, the better decision making we can do in the future."

People can also submit comments and view all of the "draft possibilities" at parkplanning.nps.gov/zion. The feedback period runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 23. The National Park Service will host a webinar that up to 100 people can participate in Oct. 31 at noon; it will include a formal presentation of the strategies.

Zion National Park, established in 1909, has seen a 35 percent increase in visitors over the past 10 years. Zion Canyon is the most popular destination — and area of overuse — but the strategies include separate initiatives for Angels Landing, the Narrows and Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.

After a series of revisions and more public comment periods, the park expects to have a finalized plan by fall 2018.

By COURTNEY TANNER| The Salt Lake Tribuneconnect

First Published Oct 15 2016 11:02PM • Last Updated Oct 15 2016 11:03 pm

Public comment meetings

Las Vegas, Nev. » Oct. 24, 5 p.m., University of Nevada, Las Vegas Student Union, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Room 205

Hurricane » Oct. 25, 5 p.m., Hurricane Community Center, 63 S. 100 West, Room 107

Zion National Park » Oct. 26, noon, Zion Lodge Auditorium, Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

Springdale » Oct. 26, 5 p.m., Canyon Community Center, 126 Lion Blvd.

Cedar City » Oct. 27, 5 p.m., Southern Utah University, Sharwan Smith Student Center, Room 141 (Note: Park in Lot A10 on 200 South between 500 and 700 West)

Salt Lake City » Oct. 28, 5 p.m., Marriott University Park Hotel, 480 Wakara Way, Aspen Meeting Room (fifth floor)

Kanab » Nov. 1, 5 p.m., Kanab City Library, 374 N. Main, Multipurpose Room