ZION NATIONAL PARK, Utah (ABC4 News) — After being closed for more than a month, Zion National Park has reopened for day use recreational access only in select areas within the park.

As officials with the National Park Service continue to coordinate with the State of Utah, southwest Utah elected leaders, park partners, and local businesses, they announced the health and safety of Zion’s visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners will guide their operational approach to examine all facilities and services and ensure their operations comply with current public health guidance.

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“As much as folks love Zion, this might not be the best time to come to the park just because so many people want to be here,” Jeff Axel, acting chief of interpretation and public affairs at Zion National Park, said. “If folks aren’t social distancing, if there’s too many crowds, those will be the triggers for rolling back some of our guidelines until we can get the situation under control.”

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Park officials say many services won’t be available and ask that visitors continue to follow COVID-19 health guidelines, which include maintaining six-foot social distancing, following group size limits, washing hands with soap for 20 seconds, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing, and using hand sanitizer, which will be available near restrooms. The park also asks that visitors where masks when social distancing may be difficult; but, they won’t be enforcing this guideline, as it’s the responsibility of visitors, officials said.

The park asks that visitors download the May 13-21, 2020 Information Sheet and bring it with them, keeping in mind that all printed material is subject to change at any time.

Zion’s Shuttles Temporarily Suspended

Zion’s shuttle operation is temporarily suspended and parking is limited in Zion Canyon. Visitors can only park in designated spots and should expect intermittent closures of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, a 6-mile road with roughly 400 parking spots when capacity is reached.

Daniel Fagergren, chief ranger at Zion National Park, said he anticipates parking to be full by 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., possibly even earlier on the weekends. Park officials say they will turn away traffic at Canyon Junction.

An alternative to the Zion Scenic Canyon Drive is SR-9. More parking is available at the Visitor Center, which is a starting point for The Pa’rus and Watchman Trails. It will help to have a backup plan if the Scenic Drive closes, park officials announced.

RELATED: Social distancing ‘just not possible’: Advocates urge Zion National Park to close

What is open?

Open Trails:

  • Pa’rus Trail
  • Archeology Trail
  • Grotto Trail
  • Riverside Walk
  • Watchman Trail
  • Sand Bench Trail
  • Upper Emerald Pools and the Kayenta Trail –
  • The West Rim Trail to Scout Lookout

Operations Open:

  • Rangers are patrolling park land.
  • Zion Forever bookstore is open 9am – 4pm.
  • Outdoor visitor orientation and information services will be in designated areas near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

What Remains Closed?

  • Kolob Canyons
  • Zion Lodge (some services resume May 21)
  • Campgrounds
  • Museum and Theater
  • Angels Landing Chains Section
  • Canyon Overlook Trail
  • Wilderness and Recreation Permits (this includes the Subway).
  • Climbing and Canyoneering
  • Overnight Backpacking or any through hiking.
  • The Narrows (due to high flow)
  • Lower Emerald Pools Trail (due to trail construction)
  • Weeping Rock area, including Observation Point (via East Rim Trail from Weeping Rock), Hidden Canyon, and Weeping Rock Trails (due to rockfall)

Park staff say they will issue citations if visitors head to closed trails, adding that they saw a few hikers Wednesday at Angels Landing.

“It’s just that we are in a position where we didn’t want to be the place that was vectoring the virus,” said Fagergren.

All campgrounds in the park are closed: Camping is not permitted in parking areas or pullouts. Watchman Campground will open May 22, 2020 except for group sites that will remain closed.

For more information about the reopening of Utah’s 5 National Parks, go to: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.htm

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