SPRINGDALE, Utah (ABC4 News) – As Zion National Park approaches its busiest summer tourist season, staff said they’re stretched thin, and their budget hasn’t increased enough to accommodate the exponential growth of visitors.
Park officials said they’re trying to come up with a workable solution to manage chronic overcrowding, but they have less staff than they did 10 years ago.
Critical positions at Zion National Park remain short-staffed, including maintenance janitorial workers, following a record-breaking 4.3 million people who visited the park last year.
“We just want people to be prepared for long waits, crowded trails, and a lot of people,” said Zion National Park ranger Eleanor Siebers.
Although visitation has gone down by 25% compared to data from April of last year, park officials said it doesn’t feel like it.
Heavy rain and snow closed a number of trails in recent months, so hikers are forced to share available trails with many more people than usual.
“When that happens, we’re seeing increases in graffiti, so people writing on the sandstone walls with rocks or with sticks,” Siebers said. “We’re seeing a lot of social trails, so people trying to make trails bigger or cut down to the river.”
Staff said trail crews remain extremely busy repairing damaged areas and janitorial maintenance staff are overwhelmed with keeping the park clean.
Zion National Park relies heavily on seasonal employees and interns, which staff say are critical in helping them get through the summer months.
2019 Summer Shuttle Schedule: May 12 – September 29
Majestic View Departures
7:10 a.m. – First bus into town
7:30 a.m. – 9:45 p.m. – Every 8-15 minutes
9:45 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. – Every 30 minutes
10:15 p.m. – Last departure from Majestic View
Zion Canyon Village Departures
7:30 a.m. – First bus into town
7:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Every 8-15 minutes
9:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – Every 30 minutes
10:00 p.m. – Last bus into town
Zion National Park/Canyon Loop Route:
Visitor Center Departures
6:00 a.m. – First bus into Canyon
6:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. – Every 15 minutes
8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Every 10 minutes
8:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Every 4-5 minutes
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Every 6-7 minutes
8:30 p.m. – Last bus into Canyon
The Narrows is closed due to snowmelt. 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.