Zion National Park predicts busy 4th of July weekend

Crowds line up for a shuttle ride in Zion National Park, undated | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Visitors to Zion National Park are advised to arrive early in order to avoid the large crowds projected to invade the park this holiday weekend. Visitors are also reminded to be safe during the heat of the summertime day.

File – This March 2016 file photo illustrates increasing tourism at Zion National Park where a long line of visitors wait for a shuttle, Utah, March 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News.com

Large crowds regularly swarm into the national park during holiday weekends and it can get rather crowded. Park visitors reached 30,000 for just one of the days making up the Memorial Day weekend.

Zion National Park was the fifth most visited national park in 2016 with nearly 4.3 million visits, according to the National Park Service. As of May this year, there have been over 1.5 million visits to the park.

Anticipating the mass of visitors for the Fourth of July weekend, national park officials have supplied tips on arriving early, shuttle times and reminding visitors to stay hydrated and safe during the summer heat.

Those visiting and camping in Zion National Park should also be aware of the fire restrictions the NPS implemented in late May. A summary of those fire restrictions is provided at the end of this report.

Get there early

Arriving early will give visitors the best chance to find parking in or near the park and avoid the largest crowds. It will also help avoid the hottest part of the day, which will be especially important as the forecast for Zion Canyon includes temperatures over 100 degrees.

Visitors should still expect to wait in line to board the shuttle, even first thing in the morning and leaving at the end of the day.

Shuttle timing

File – In this July 2016 photo a Zion National Park shuttle bus turns off of state Route 9 into the Zion Human History Museum parking lot. Zion National Park, Utah, July 20, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Shuttles will be operating on holiday schedules allowing for more frequent pick-ups in Springdale and in the park.

  • The first bus going up canyon leaves from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 6 a.m.
  • The last bus coming out of the Park canyon will depart the Temple of Sinawava at 9:15 p.m.
  • Visitors parking in Springdale can take the shuttle into the park from nine different locations in town beginning at 7:10 a.m. from the Majestic View Lodge.
  • The last bus leaving the park heading back into Springdale leaves at 10 p.m. from the Zion pedestrian (river) entrance.

Remember to keep the “Park Map and Guide” with you to reference during your visit to the Park. It has everything you need to know about hours of operation, hiking and trail information, to safety tips, and Ranger-led programs.

Beat the heat and stay hydrated

“Preparing for hot conditions and practicing good ‘heat safety’ will help visitors have a more enjoyable experience in the park this summer,” said John Marciano, the park information officer.

Marciano also recommends the following while visiting the park:

  • Plan your hike in the park to avoid the hottest part of the day. Keep in mind your personal abilities when choosing which hikes you want to take and listen to your body while you are out there.
  • Seek shade when possible and use sun screen to protect skin.
  • Hydrate before you come to the park and continue to drink plenty of water all day to avoid dehydration.

Dehydration, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is a state when your body loses more fluid than it takes in. Dehydration can affect anyone of any age if they do not drink enough water.

Symptoms can include generalized weakness, lightheadedness, confusion, cyclic nausea and vomiting, thirst (but not always), and apple juice-colored urine.

File – Child drinks bottled water with soluble electrolytes for rehydration. | Photo by zlikovec / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Prolonged dehydration can result in falling (which can result in injury), kidney failure and death.

Hydrating with water is considered the best way to combat dehydration unless there is strenuous exertion or other unusual circumstances.

A person doesn’t have to wait until they are thirsty, as thirst isn’t always the best way to tell if you need a drink. By the time you body is telling you that you need a drink, you’re already low on fluids.

Also hydrate and rehydrate before, during and after activity. Fluid losses increase as the body sweats. Take water or other fluids with each meal, and also take water with you wherever you go, particularly during hot weather.

Foods with high-water content such as fruits and vegetables are also recommended.

It should be noted that seniors, little children and infants are at higher risk for dehydration than others.

Zion National Park fire restrictions

  • Setting, building, maintaining, attending, or using a campfire (including charcoal) in campgrounds (excluding Lava Point Campground), picnic areas, or permanently improved places of habitation is prohibited. Stoves and grills fueled by petroleum fuels such as liquid propane gas, butane, or white gas are allowed.
  • Smoking in vegetated areas: No smoking except in an enclosed vehicle, or a developed recreation site clear of vegetation, or other areas devoid of vegetation with a minimum of three feet in diameter clear down to mineral soil.
  • Discharging or using any kind of fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices is prohibited at all times on all federal lands including Zion National Park.

Violation of the above prohibited acts is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 12 months, or both.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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