The past few years have seen record numbers of visitors to Zion National Park over Memorial Day weekend. Last year, more than 71,000 people visited Zion National Park during the extended weekend, and so far in 2016 visitation is up 8 percent.
Historically, Memorial Day weekend is Zion National Park’s busiest weekend, so here are some tips to help you deal with the crowds.
Parking areas are usually full by mid-morning, so Zion officials recommend that park goers arrive early in the morning, before 9 a.m. or mid-afternoon, around 2 p.m. During peak season, the 6-mile Zion Scenic Drive, which ends at the Temple of Sinawava, is only open to shuttle buses and bikes. Park shuttle buses run frequently throughout the day, with an average wait time of about 15 minutes. The shuttle makes eight stops at major trailheads and sights.
Tip: If you’re staying at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, ask about our hiking shuttles into the park. Be sure to scheduled drop-off and pick-up services in advance.
There’s a lot to see in Zion, and you’re going to want to hit the trails. Expect that there will be more hikers than usual on the trails, and practice good trail etiquette. That means following signs, practicing safety, stepping aside when you’re standing still or taking photos, and remembering that the trails are for everyone. Don’t forget to carry water and wear comfortable, safe shoes.
Tip: Zion Ponderosa guests have hiking access down into the park right from our property, as well as amazing hiking trails, such as Observation Point, with high-elevation views of Zion National Park. At nearly 2,000 feet above Zion Canyon’s floor, that also means cooler temperatures on the plateau. Ask about our guided hiking tours in Zion National Park.
3. BE PREPARED
Remember to bring everything you’ll need for the day, including your park pass or entrance fee, water, sunscreen, snacks, layers, comfortable shoes, hiking sticks, a flashlight or headlamp if you’ll be hiking toward the end of the day, and of course, your camera to capture all the great memories you’ll be making.
Tip: Grab a Zion National Park map at the park entrance, and be mindful of shuttle times. The park visitor center is a great place to get up-to-the-minute information and will be open with extended hours over the holiday weekend.
The best way to enjoy Zion National Park during crowded holiday weekends is to remind yourself that everyone is there for the same reason you are. Yes, lines will be longer and trails will be more crowded—but Zion’s beauty is still the main attraction, and there’s plenty to go around!
Tip: Head out early in the morning or later in the day to visit the main canyon and most popular trails and overlooks. Maximize your Zion adventure with activities like ATV rentals, horseback riding, and swimming at Zion Ponderosa during the main part of the day while waiting for the crowds to reduce inside Zion National Park.