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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Zion National Park To Resume Shuttle Service July 1

Photo of cars in Zion National Park.
Lexi Peery
Early on June 25, more than 350 cars line up at Zion National Park. Parking has been full within an hour of the park opening since the park began allowing visitors in May.

The shuttle service at Zion National Park will resume July 1 after shutting down in March due to the coronavirus. 

The park reopened in mid-May but park rangers have only been allowing enough people in to fill the 400 parking spots on the Scenic Drive. With limited availability, people have been lining up early in hopes of securing a parking space. 

Just before 6 a.m. on June 25, more than 350 cars were lined up to get into Zion’s main canyon. Rangers started letting people park at the trailheads soon after, and within an hour every spot was full. 

Photo of people walking on the road in Zion National Park.
Lexi Pery
Since parking is limited in the national park, people have been walking up Zion’s Scenic Drive to get to popular trailheads that have already full parking lots.

Marcus Austin Macias was eighth in line. He and his group, who traveled from Southern California, didn’t get much sleep to get that spot. 

“We just got in last night about one in the morning and decided to get in line because we saw a couple people already starting to get in line,” Macias said. 

He secured a prime space at Zion’s Riverwalk Trailhead, which leads to the Narrows — one of the most popular hikes in the park. 

Park officials didn’t start up the shuttle system when the park partially reopened earlier this year, instead they took extra time to configure the busses to allow for social distancing for passengers and drivers. 

Resuming the shuttle service will hopefully make things run smoother and will allow more people to visit Zion, said park spokesperson Jeff Axel. 

“One of the great things about the shuttle in the last 20 years is it has hugely increased people’s ability to experience Zion National Park,” Axel said. “There’s hardly any parking and we’re not going to pave the canyon floor. The shuttle is absolutely critical and we’re so happy we’re going to be able to bring it back online.”

Axel said there were over six million shuttle rides taken in 2019. 

Know before you go

The Scenic Drive will be closed to cars once the shuttles are running on July 1. Visitors who hope to visit the main canyon will have to reserve a $1 shuttle ticket in advance. Tickets will be for certain time slots.

The shuttle will run between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. The park is open during daylight hours only. 

What’s open/closed?

Here’s what’s closedat Zion:

  • Angel’s Landing chained section (beyond Scout’s Lookout) 
  • Weeping Rock Trail, Hidden Canyon and Observation Point (due to a rockfall last fall)
  • Lower Emerald Pools (expected to reopen soon)
  • Zion’s museum and theater
  • Overnight backpacking
  • Kolob Canyons
  • Wilderness and recreation permits

Lexi Peery is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George. Follow Lexi on Twitter @LexiFP

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Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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