Zion officials warn of crowded conditions over Labor Day weekend

ST. GEORGE — Zion National Park officials are advising visitors to expect long waits and crowded trails over Labor Day weekend. 

The queue to hike Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

The park is anticipating around 20,000 visitors each day over the weekend. While the park will probably see fewer visitors than it did during other summer holidays like the Fourth of July, which saw 24,000 visitors each day, some trails may be more congested due to the recent closure of the Weeping Rock trail and shuttle stop, park spokesperson Eugenne Moisa said. 

“We want to help people set a realistic expectation,” Moisa said. “Just have patience, bring plenty of water, wear super comfortable shoes, of course, and be prepared.” 

In addition to the Weeping Rock closure, Upper and Middle Emerald Pools, Hidden Canyon, Weeping Rock and the East Rim/Observation Point trails are inaccessible, putting more pressure on other popular hikes such as the Narrows, Lower Emerald Pools and Angels Landing. 

“We have a lot of trails closed from mudslides, rock slides and stuff, that we just haven’t been able to get open yet. So you just have to be a bit more strategic or even go to other areas of the park,” Moisa said. 

Officials predict that all available parking within the park will be full by 9 a.m. each day and recommend that visitors park in Springdale and either walk or take a shuttle into Zion. 

Crowds at the entrance to the Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

The shuttle within the park runs from 6 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. and leaves to take people into Zion Canyon from the Visitor Center every four minutes. Park officials estimate that the wait time to take a shuttle into the canyon will range from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the time of day. 

Both campgrounds in Zion are full, and campers are advised to look for options outside the park. 

To help mitigate the dangers and high traffic of Angels Landing over the weekend, the park will have a queue for the hike at The Grotto, a method they first introduced over Memorial Day weekend. 

Hikers will stand in line at The Grotto, and a park ranger will send six people up the trail every three minutes, or 120 people per hour. At peak times over the Fourth of July, the line was three hours long. 

“People’s feedback has been relatively positive. I’m sure those that we surprised with doing the queue are surprised, but compared to how unsafe it was and how dangerous it could have been for people then, it’s been a good pilot process for us this last summer,” Moisa said. 

The park is also warning visitors of monsoon season, which lasts from mid-July to mid-September each year, bringing rain and potential flash flood conditions. Flash floods can occur if there is a storm in the distance, even when skies appear sunny overhead

It is advised to check local weather conditions before attempting trails with potential flash flood risk such as the Narrows. Zion’s current conditions can be found on their website

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

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