Major traffic delays expected in Zion National Park this weekend
(KUTV) — Major traffic delays are expected for people visiting Zion National Park over the President's Day weekend.
The town of Springdale and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) are asking people to consider visiting the national park during another weekend if possible.
“Limited parking and roadway congestion are always issues in Zion Canyon during holiday weekends, and President’s Day weekend is no exception,” Springdale Mayor Stanley J. Smith said. “If visitors are coming to Zion for the holiday, we want them to understand the situation before they arrive.”
UDOT is currently in the process of a reconstruction project that includes the addition of one-way traffic, flagging and stoppages. This project is expected to exacerbate the already narrow State Route 9 through Zion Canyon.
This construction is expected to continue through mid-April, and was originally scheduled in order to avoid peak season at the park.
Recent high-visitation weekends have produced traffic delays of up to 90 minutes or longer as vehicles pass through Springdale on their way to the park.
"Springdale, Zion National Park and UDOT are working together to manage conditions and set expectations for park visitors this President's Day weekend," a news release says.
“We know that this is an extremely popular area to visit. That’s why it’s so important we get this project done,” UDOT Project Manager Chris Hall said. “If you can’t shift your travel to lower volume dates, plan ahead and know that traffic is expected to back up at several locations in the town and when entering and exiting the park.”
Parking is reportedly extremely limited. Visitors who choose to walk from Springdale face a three mile walk to reach the pedestrian entrance of Zion National Park, which is located in the Zion Canyon Village.
In an effort to facilitate visitors' access, Zion National Park plans to resume weekend only, in-park shuttle service on Saturday, Feb. 17 and has opened more parking for early arrivals. Additional overflow parking will be available in Springdale.
“We are incorporating additional traffic and vehicle parking options to maintain a safe and enjoyable visitor experience at Zion Park,” Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. “With the delays and scarcity of parking, we ask for everyone’s patience and attention to safety whether a driver, passenger or pedestrian.”
Shuttle buses depart from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 7:00 a.m., going up the canyon to designated trail head stops. The final bus of the night comes from the Temple of Sinawava (Stop 9) at 6:45 p.m. and returns to the Visitor Center. This same schedule will apply to Sunday, Feb. 18, and again over the weekends of Feb. 24 and 25 and March 3 and 4.
"The town shuttle will not be running those weekends," a news release states. "Full season daily shuttle services in the park and in Springdale, pending road construction, will begin March 10, 2018 and run through late fall.
State Route 9 throughout Springdale is in the process of full reconstruction. This involves improving utilities and drainage, as well as adding wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes. This project is taking place during the lowest park visitation time frame, so as to reduce the impact of traffic and businesses.