ZION NATIONAL PARK (ABC4 News) — Zion National Park is estimating up to 20,000 daily visitors this Fourth of July weekend, while one gateway community is now requiring masks in certain areas.

After receiving approval from Utah Gov. Gary Herbert following a recommendation by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department on behalf of the town of Springdale, masks are required starting July 3 in commercial and retail stores, when waiting to be seated and served at restaurants, and at community events.

“Enforcement is a personal responsibility,” Mayor Stan Smith tells ABC4 News. “We’re not going to put you in jail, fine you, or kick you out of town. I don’t want to make this a political issue, but be kind to your neighbor and wear a mask when you need to.”

Hundreds of cars lined the entrance to Zion on Friday, and although masks are not mandatory in the park itself, park spokesperson Jeff Axel said staff are highly encouraging them.

For the first time, visitors are now required to purchase a ticket to ride the shuttle into the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, where hikers access Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, the Riverside Walk, and the Narrows.

Tickets will need to be purchased for $1 in advance online in 1-hour time blocks and are already sold out for the next two weeks, park officials said. The shuttle buses are operating at a smaller capacity with about 35 people in each bus to adhere to CDC guidance.

“There are a few tickets that are being made available the day prior at 9 a.m. but these are going in about 3 minutes,” Axel said. “These buses used to hold up to 85 people with individuals sitting and standing in the aisle, but we’re not allowing standing in the aisle and half the seats have been removed.”

“Once you are in Zion Canyon, you will be able to get on and off the shuttle using the same ticket as many times as you want, but if you come back to the visitor center, you will need to purchase another,” he added.

Use of the shuttle ticket system is temporary, designed to operate through December 2020, when park officials will reevaluate the need for the system based upon public health guidance.

Katie Karalis
Katie worked as a multimedia journalist in Reno, Nevada for KRNV News 4 and in Quincy, Illinois for WGEM-TV before making the move to Utah. Katie graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she anchored and reported for the Emmy-award-winning Northwestern News Network.