Visitors collapse in heat at Zion National Park

Southern Utah

ZION NATIONAL PARK (ABC4 News) — With triple-digit temperatures, Utah’s Dixie and Zion National Park are facing an excessive heat warning that went into effect at 11 a.m. Thursday lasting through Friday afternoon.

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As shuttle operations remain shut down and rangers redirect traffic from the Zion Scenic Drive once the 400 parking spots fill typically by 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., park officials said they’re seeing hundreds of people walking to trailheads on the roadway.

Zion National Park spokesperson Jeff Axel tells ABC4 News several visitors have collapsed in the heat along the scenic drive and others have hitch-hiked back towards the park entrance.

“What we’re seeing are folks that are overestimating their fitness level and underestimating distances, not understanding that it takes about a half an hour to walk a mile,” Axel said.

Axel asks hikers to bring plenty of water, wear light clothing, and take frequent breaks in cooler and shaded areas in the extreme heat.

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“We do ask that folks not engage in any risky activities just because our staff is stretched,” Axel added. “We don’t have our seasonal staff on and trained quite yet.”

Park officials said they’re also bracing themselves for a potentially busy and challenging fire season with dry brush ready to burn. On Monday, a group of campers left its campfire burning and went to sleep, according to Axel. The flames quickly spread with 15 mile per hour winds.

“That camper woke up around midnight to lights and sirens, and they did get a citation for that,” Axel said.

Fire restrictions should be implemented in the next couple of days at Zion National Park, possibly June 1, according to officials. Visitors are asked to think twice before having a campfire.

Memorial Day Fire at Zion National Park Watchman Campground (Courtesy of ZNP)

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