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Zion National Park says holiday crowds, trail closures may make for congested Presidents Day weekend

Posted at 11:41 AM, Feb 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-12 13:41:33-05

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Zion National Park expects a surge in visitors for Presidents Day weekend, and several trail closures will contribute to the congestion.

According to a press release issued Tuesday, the park hosted more than 25,000 people during the holiday weekend in 2018, an increase of 18 percent over 2017.

Even with similar numbers for this year, several trail closures will make the park feel more congested.

“Visitors should come prepared,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh stated. “Not only for crowded conditions, but for the hikes and other activities they are planning under winter conditions. And remember that safety is your responsibility, so please avoid unsafe behaviors and risk-taking. With many people visiting, by showing patience with others and respectful trail etiquette, everyone can enjoy the beauty of the park.”

Upper Emerald Pools and the Kayenta Trail are closed due to damage from summer monsoon rains, and a recent rockfall has closed access to Hidden Canyon and Observation Point trails—though Observation Point trail is still accessible from the East Mesa trail for those with a high-clearance vehicle and deep snow hiking equipment.

Riverside Walk, Weeping Rock and Lower Emerald Pools are also susceptible to winter closures as midday temperatures cause icicles to begin falling.

The release states the East Rim trail is still open if snowy and muddy, and that Sand Bench, Watchman, Coalpits and Chinle trails are generally good options for a winter hike.

Additional information from the press release regarding shuttle service and other openings/closures is reproduced below:

To facilitate visitor access, Zion National Park will resume weekend only, mandatory shuttle service on Saturday, February 16. Park shuttle buses will depart the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 7:00 am heading up-canyon to designated trail head stops with the last bus of the evening returning from the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9) at 6:40 pm back to the Visitor Center. This same schedule will operate on Sunday, February 17, and then again on the weekends of February 23 and 24 and March 2 and 3. The in-town, Springdale shuttle services will not operate during these weekend dates. Full season daily shuttle services in the Park and in the Town of Springdale will begin March 9, 2019 and run through late fall.

For the holiday weekend, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center will be open daily from 8 am until 5 pm. The Wilderness permits desk will be open from 8 am until 11 am and again from 3 pm until 5 pm. The park film will be shown at the Human History Museum, which will be open Saturday and Sunday only from 10 am until 4 pm. Newly re-opened, the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center will be open daily from 8 am until 4:30 pm.