SPRINGDALE (ABC4 News) – Thousands kicked off Memorial Day weekend at Zion National Park Friday. Rangers are alerting the public to expect potential record-breaking crowds.
Memorial Day weekend is typically the busiest of the entire year at the park. In 2018, 86,000 visitors came over the holiday weekend.
Genna Hughes and Marcus McGovern of Oregon woke up at 4:30 a.m. Friday to escape the crowds, making sure to reserve their campsite online weeks in advance.
“I’ve heard that sometimes so many people are clicking at the same time from all over that the server crashes,” McGovern said.
Many visitors reported having to wait in long lines to get into overcrowded shuttles.
“If you’ve got kids, bring things for them to do while they’re in the shuttle line and pack water and salty snacks,” said Zion National Park manager Eleanor Siebers.
Others said they avoided the shuttle altogether.
“I’ll skip the shuttle and just walk in myself,” Virginia resident Devin Kelly said. “The shuttle can be kinda like Disneyland, where you have to wait 45 minutes.”
Park officials said many trails have closed this year due to floods and rockfall, so available trails are even more crowded than usual.
The Narrows is closed due to snow melt. The Kayenta Trail and Upper Emerald Pools Trail are closed until further notice due to storm damage. The Hidden Canyon Trail and Observation Point (from Weeping Rock) are closed until further notice due to rockfall.
Many visitors said they came specifically to hike Angels Landing. This year, park rangers are testing a new line management system, sending up large groups every 15 minutes.
Still, hikers said they found the trail to be overcrowded.
“We had to snake around people and grab chains around each other,” Hughes said. “It was pretty intense.”
Park rangers said to avoid coming to the park Saturday and Sunday, instead opting for Monday before 9 a.m. or after 3 p.m.