Zion anticipates crowded conditions over July 4th weekend; law enforcement on watch for drunk drivers

ST. GEORGE— Zion National Park is preparing for a busy 4th of July weekend, with plans in place for increased law enforcement presence and a queue system for the park’s most popular hiking trail. 

The park is expecting around 25,000 visitors each day between July 4-7, park spokesperson Aly Baltrus told St. George News, explaining that higher visitation brings an increased risk of drunk drivers. 

“We practically become a small city each day,” she said. “Just like any small city, impaired driving can be a problem.”

Impaired driving can be especially dangerous in the park, where narrow roads, steep drop-offs, sharp turns and heavy traffic congestion are common. 

To help keep visitors safe during the busy weekend, the park is increasing road patrols and stationing additional law enforcement rangers throughout the park to watch for impaired drivers. 

Vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of unintentional deaths in national parks nationwide, the park service said in a press release. Around one person dies in a crash every week on national park roads, and the risk is even higher in the summer when visitation is higher. 

An hourslong line forms at the Grotto to hike Angels Landing over Memorial Day weekend, Zion National Park, Utah, May 25, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

“To help keep visitors safe, we encourage visitors to obey traffic regulations, do not drink and drive and always wear your seat belt in a moving vehicle,” Baltrus said. 

The park is also warning visitors of crowded conditions and high temperatures over the holiday. They are expecting parking lots within the park to be full by 9 a.m. and recommend that most visitors park in Springdale and take the shuttle into the park. 

The park is anticipating long wait lines to hike Angels Landing, and plans are in place for a queue for the hike at the Grotto using a system first implemented over Memorial Day weekend.

“Moving the queue line both improved visitors experience on the trail and also helped with safety,” Baltrus said. “By holding them at the Grotto shuttle stop area, visitors had a bit more shade, access to water and flushable toilets, which they would not have had waiting at Scout Lookout.”

Read more: During Zion’s busiest weekend, park staff to experiment with new queue location for Angels Landing

The Narrows hike recently reopened, but several other Zion Canyon trails remain closed due to landslides, including the Upper and Middle Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon trail, East Rim and Observation Point trails via the Weeping Rock shuttle stop and the trail connector between Kayenta Trail and Lower Emerald Pools.

Fireworks are not allowed at any location within the park. 

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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