ZION NATIONAL PARK — Zion National Park crews will be removing waste from the evaporative toilets at Scout’s Lookout on two different days this month.
The first half-day closure will take place Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., then again Nov. 9, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The operation to remove the waste requires the use of a helicopter, so safety precautions that include trail and road closures will be in effect.
On both days of the operation, Angels Landing and the West Rim Trail will be closed between the West Rim / Kayenta Trail junction, and the Patio, just above Scout’s Lookout. Flaggers will be stationed on the Scenic Drive, in the area of Big Bend, for periodic road closures during flyovers. All traffic, including shuttle buses, will be delayed during the two days of operations.
Recommended alternative hikes during this closure period are Hidden Canyon and Observation Point Trails, which can be accessed from shuttle bus stop 7, Weeping Rock.
The toilets have to be emptied by hand, and since they are on a lookout that is 1,000 feet in elevation, it can only be done once a year, by air.
The work, fondly referred to by park staff as the helipoo operation, is a growing challenge for park management.
Park managers said the the evaporative toilets are not equipped to handle the large increase in tourists at the park. Toilets that are designed for 50 visitors a day are now being used hundreds of times per day.
To alleviate at least some of the overuse, visitors are asked to use restrooms located at the Grotto parking and shuttle stop area before hiking to Scout Lookout.