Zion National Park UEA weekend
Image: blue_i’s / CC BY 2.0

With the Utah Education Association weekend approaching, students throughout the state of Utah will be out of school Oct. 15 through 18. Crowded conditions are expected in all of southern Utah but especially at the national parks.

Zion National Park, one of Utah’s most popular destinations, has seen visitation in park visitors increase dramatically over the past few years. This includes holidays as well as long weekends such as this.

Visitors planning to visit any of the national parks in Utah over the UEA weekend should be prepared for traffic delays, limited parking, and crowded conditions.

Zion National Park visitors who want to know the current status of parking availability should tune into 1610 AM on their radio.

On the 2015 Labor Day weekend, parking lots were full by 9:30 a.m. When the parking lots are full, visitors began to experience traffic congestion in Springdale. Park officials are anticipating similar conditions over the UEA weekend. Visitors can also expect up to 45-minute waits to get to the park entrance and boarding the shuttle buses that take visitors through Zion Park.

Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh expects another busy weekend.

“Weekends such as UEA strain the park’s facilities and staffing to manage crowded conditions and meet visitor expectations,” Bradybaugh said. “Shuttle buses will be in operation in the park and Springdale, however visitors should plan additional time to get to where they’re going.”

Before leaving for the park, visitors are encouraged to visit the park website for important information on trails, shuttle buses, and other facilities. Park officials recommend that visitors arrive at the park early in the day, park in the Springdale area, and ride the free shuttle buses to reduce traffic congestion.

Some additional recommendations are to park only in designated parking lots or pullouts that are paved. Avoid parking on the shoulders of the road. If parking in the Springdale area, park in designated sites.

“Please plan ahead, take responsibility for your safety, be patient, and treat others with courtesy and respect,” Bradybaugh said. “These practices are important whether you decide to visit Zion or the extraordinary public land resources in our area. Utah Education Association weekend reminds us how these lands can serve as outdoor classrooms for countless generations to come.”