SR-9 reconstruction complete but Zion officials still advise visitors to anticipate crowded conditions

Improvements made to SR-9 during reconstruction through Springdale include wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes on both sides of the road. Local state officials celebrated completion of the two-year project, Springdale, Utah, May 16, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — Memorial Day weekend is a time to honor those who have fallen while serving our country and the unofficial start of summer. It also is Zion National Park’s busiest weekend. Last year, more than 75,000 people visited the park, with Sunday being the busiest day with 31,000 visitors.

This 2017 file photo shows visitors in line for shuttle access to Zion National Park, Utah, circa 2017 | File photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

While the park is extending facility hours and increasing staffing, visitors should expect crowded conditions, especially between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. when wait times to enter the park and board shuttles will most likely exceed 45 minutes. At one point, last year, the shuttle lines were close to two hours long.

However, access to the park should be easier this year after completion of the estimated $19 million renovation of state Route 9 through Springdale, with wider sidewalks and designated bike lanes on both sides of the highway.

The project got underway in late 2016 and was completed in two phases. The first phase, which started in Rockville and stopped where it entered Springdale, wrapped up in April 2017. The second phase, which went through Springdale to the park, began in October 2017 and finished during the latter half of April.

Read more: Springdale, UDOT officials celebrate completion of SR-9 reconstruction

Zion National Park has limited parking space that is projected to fill up by 9 a.m. during the weekend. Park officials ask visitors to park only in designated stalls. Vehicles parked outside of designated stalls are subject to citation and may be towed. Once all designated parking stalls in Zion are full, visitors should park in the town of Springdale and ride the free shuttle to access the park. There is a charge for parking in Springdale. The pay stub for parking in town is not a park entrance pass. Similarly, a park entrance pass is not a town parking validation.

This 2015 file photo shows people waiting in line for the shuttle at Zion National Park over the 2015 Labor Day weekend, Springdale, Utah, Sept. 6, 2015 | File photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

The Zion Canyon Visitor Center information desk and backcountry permits desk will extend hours until 7 p.m. beginning Saturday. The Zion Nature Center, which houses hands-on exhibits and activities geared for children and their families, will open from 2-6 p.m. beginning Saturday through Labor Day. The Zion Human History Museum also will extend hours beginning Saturday, opening at 9 a.m. and closing at 6 p.m.

“Visitors should come prepared,” park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. “Not only for crowded conditions, but for the hikes and other activities they are planning. With so many people visiting, we ask that visitors show additional patience with others and respectful trail etiquette. And remember that safety is your responsibility, so please avoid unsafe behaviors and risk-taking. Multiple emergencies are common during busy periods, stretching the availability of search and rescue, emergency medical and fire-fighting capabilities.”

Park officials suggest for a more enjoyable visit, people go to the Zion National Park website to find important information on shuttles, buses, trails and other facilities.

Visitors staying in local hotels are advised to leave their vehicles there and take the free shuttle to the park walk-in gate. Plan ahead. Arrive early to the park to avoid the largest crowds. Check weather conditions and prepare accordingly. Have patience and drink plenty of water. If traveling with children, bring snacks or a toy to entertain them while in shuttle lines.

St. George News reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • statusquo May 24, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Just bring money for parking – $22/ day now imposed by Springdale. $44 for oversized vehicles.

  • utahdiablo May 24, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks Udot, now we can get to the “closed because it’s full” Zion Parking lot quite a bit sooner to get in line to wait a hour or more to get on the mandated Zion shuttles….and enjoy the rest of the day with standing room only shuttles with smelly tourists butts in your faces….great times ahead for sure!…Thanks for selling us locals out Mighty 5 and Utah tourism, almost hurts to live here now

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