ST. GEORGE – Zion National Park and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park are making seasonal changes to services and access, and are closing some campgrounds for the winter.
At Zion National Park, the Zion Canyon Shuttle has stopped for the season and the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is now open to private vehicles for the winter season. The Zion Human History Museum and South Campground have closed for the winter, and camping at Watchman Campground is now available on a first-come, first-served basis. But, there is still plenty to do at the park, said Chief of Visitor Services at Zion National Park Aly Baltrus.
“The weather is still nice,” Baltrus said, “there is still plenty of hiking. All of our trails are still open.”
Winter visitors to Zion are advised to bring a hiking stick or YakTrax for potentially slippery trails, she said. YakTrax are traction devices that can be strapped onto hiking boots or shoes.
“Areas that don’t see sun can develop ice,” Baltrus said.
At the Grand Canyon, the North Rim is now closed for the season. Arizona state Route 67, leading to the North Rim, closed Monday, and all services on the North Rim are expected to re-open for the 2015 season on May 15, 2015.
The North Rim campground and yurt will still be available for winter camping and are accessible via inner canyon trails from the South Rim or by cross-country skiing and snowshoeing – a 45 mile trip from Jacob Lake, according to a National Park Service press release.
To stay at the North Rim during the winter months, visitors will need a backcountry permit, which can be obtained from the Backcountry Information Center located at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Permit requests can be faxed year-round to 928-638-2125. Backcountry permits for North Rim winter camping are also available at Pipe Springs National Monument in Fredonia, Arizona and the Bureau of Land Management Interagency Visitor Center in St. George.
Visitors considering hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing to the North Rim are reminded that winter conditions are highly variable. Extreme snowfall and bitterly cold temperatures are not uncommon at 8,000 ft.
For additional information on winter use on the North Rim, please call the Backcountry Information Center at 928-638-7875, between the hours of 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. MST, weekdays, excluding holidays.
The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is open year-round. Additional park information can be obtained by calling 928-638-7888 or by visiting the park website.
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