National Park

Spokesperson says ‘pack your patience’ while driving in Zion National Park this winter – St George News

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This 2021 file photo shows the aftermath of the South Entrance flash flood, Springdale, Utah June 29, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

ST. GEORGE- It will be slower to travel to Zion National Park starting Monday. Still, improvements made this winter will make future flooding less likely, park officials say.

Zion National Park and City of Springdale are prone to flash flooding, Springdale, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of National Park Service, St. George News

One lane will remain open within the park and one road out of the park will remain open at the south entrance. The construction will improve drainage pipes under the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway near the park’s south entrance, said Jonathan Shafer, spokesperson for Zion National Park.

Park crews will work in two adjacent areas: near the south park vehicle entrance and along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway adjacent to the south campground.

“Zion maintenance personnel worked in conjunction with National Park Service engineers to design improved culverts that widen and improve drainage infrastructure,” Shafer said. “Our goal is to improve the flow of rainwater to the Virgin River, the low point where water naturally drains. This work aims to improve drainage and prevent flooding in the future.

Shafer said closing some entry points at the south end of the park will help construction workers complete the project faster and more efficiently. Drivers will follow a marked diversion route through the South Campground so that the construction contractor can work uninterrupted. This campground is usually closed during the winter, he said.

In addition to improved trenches along the road, crews will resurface affected areas of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. Shafer said National Park Service engineers have been in the planning stage for the project since the June 2021 flood.

This project builds on past efforts to move a monument at the entrance to the park and upgrade paid cabins at the south entrance to the park. The project also complements plan the improvement of the entire south entrance areaShafer said, adding that the National Park Service is constantly working to identify ways to improve visitor services in the park.

Shafer said visitors should “be patient” during construction and weather could also come into play with more delays. Opening a single entry lane at the south entrance to the park may slow entry for drivers. Park rangers will actively manage traffic during construction to reduce wait times.

Visitors can find updates at current conditions before heading to the park, and Shafer said the seasonal shuttle schedule will still be running during the project.

“Although the work is weather dependent, we are starting as soon as possible in order to finish as soon as possible,” Shafer said. “We expect to complete the work and fully reopen the road in early spring 2023. The work will not affect the pedestrian and bicycle entrance to the park.”

According to a press release, the number of people visiting Zion has increased from around 2.8 million visits in 2011 to more than 5 million in 2021.

“We took advantage of the typical seasonal campground closure to use the roads as a detour route,” Shafer told St. George News. “We look forward to welcoming visitors as this essential work unfolds.”

Visitors can check out Zion National Park current conditions website and social media for information on what to expect in the park.

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