Zion NP considering access by reservation only - proposals open for comment until 8/18

Original Post
fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,086

Zion National Park has proposed several new visitor management plan options to address overcrowding, some of which include park and frontcountry access (basically everything along the paved roads) by reservation only.  Obviously this would impact climbing access. The proposals are now open for public comment through 18 Aug.

Edited to reflect extension.

Gunkswest · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2010 · Points: 6,815

What I just submitted:

I support a hybrid version between Alternatives B & C:

The reservation system should cover only the busiest times of the year. As shown by the current shuttle bus schedule, late fall, winter and early spring visitation does not currently merit a reservation to enter or use most of the park.

The reservation system should be refined enough that it recognizes which areas are busy and which are not. While the Narrows, Weeping Wall and Angels Landing Trail clearly need an established user capacity, climbing a route on the Great White Throne or Checkerboard Mesa should not fall under the same management scheme.

No matter what Alternative is ultimately chosen:

Creating a reservation system to enter or use the park that charges any fee beyond the park entrance fee is unacceptable. People of lesser means (a stated target audience of the NPS) are hard-pressed to pay the current entry fees. Thought should be given before implementing any alternative how it will affect under-represented Americans.

Serious consideration should be given beforehand about how the park would manage any reservation system on the ground. Staffing levels will likely not increase. How will the park gain compliance with a flat or decreasing budget and limited staff?

Unless/until this type of reservation system is widespread, the park must plan for a great amount of angst from users that arrive at the park without an entry reservation. In the past, park closures due to Congressional budget disputes have created extra work and anxiety for park staff trying to deal with irate visitors. These prior examples are very good indicators of what will occur if Alternatives B or C are implemented.

Spencer Parkin · · Bountiful · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

Forgive me for asking, but what exactly is the difference between plans B and C?  They're both reservation systems; I can see that.  I'll go back and read it more carefully.

I think it's a good idea, but there are a few concerns.  My mother-in-law pointed out that a new reservation policy is hard on travelers coming from a far distance that were unaware of it.  It will catch on, but a grace period would be nice for unsuspecting visitors.

Second, I think that priority for reservations should be given to those that have not been to the park ever or for a greater period of time than other visitors.  This provides some rotation and gives everyone a chance to visit the park.

To be sure, there is a major problem at Zions.  I couldn't believe how busy it was when I took my family.  And it was crazy up on Angels Landing!  I think the biggest danger on that hike is getting bumped off by another visitor.

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,086

I share your sentiment, Gunkswest. I live 30 min from the park and a blanket reservation system for front-country access is an overkill.  Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace trailheads get far less use than the main canyon.  Also, the upside to all of the out of town visitors is that it generates a huge amount of revenue and jobs for the local economy, $168.7 million and 2379 jobs based on the most recent data I could track down (2014). I fear that draconian restrictions and subsequent revenue loss just add fuel to the anti-federal gov't land ownership sentiment that's pervasive in Utah.

Ted.kemble · · tower city PA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

i couldn't imagine how zion is during the busy season with massive crowds, i was only there 1 time last april and it was during a rain system moving through the area. the night we came into town it was raining and foggy very cool i thought to see. next morning no rain but wet and over cast and as the day went on it burned off. very lucky to get to explore alittle with minimal crowds. especially after a heavy rain....the narrows was closed but at 8am it was just me the wife and another couple at the beginning of it.

hopefully if they implement something its well known and not an abused system where people reserve and dont show up.

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 60
Spencer Parkin wrote:... Zions.  

"ZionS?"  You certainly ARE from Utah.  :)

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 105

Welcome to the new west.  Look at what's happening in Colorado.  And it's not just crowds, it's the super assholes shitting and leaving garbage everywhere. 

BigNobody · · all over, mostly Utah · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 0

I am all for it. 

Rob Warden...Space Lizard · · Between Zion, Vegas, LA, an... · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 0

After living in Springdale for 6 years.... this has to happen soon. 

Spencer Parkin · · Bountiful · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0
Pnelson wrote:

"ZionS?"  You certainly ARE from Utah.  :)

Sorry, I meant Mukoontaweep National Park.  :)

Darin Berdinka · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2009 · Points: 60

No one likes more regulations but Zion is simply overwhelmed beyond capacity on the valley floor.   Plan B seems much easier to implement than Plan C but I can certainly see a need to cap the number of day hikers on Angels Landing and The Narrows.    Concerned the still relatively quiet Kolob Terrace will get hammered by folks trying to avoid the permit process.  

EJN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 83

extended to 8/18

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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