Zion National Park Officials To Examine Needs of Canyon Shuttle System

The shuttle system that takes visitors into and out of Zion Canyon at Zion National Park long has been singled out for its success. But even a good thing can have problems.

And with that possibility in mind, park officials will hold a public meeting later this month to discuss the operation of the shuttle and needs that have arisen.

During the meeting, set for November 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Canyon Community Center in Springdale, Utah, park officials will discuss the preliminary results of the technical analysis of the shuttle operations.

The meeting format will include an informal open house from 6:00-6:15, a formal presentation from 6:15-7:00, and community input and brainstorming from 7:00-8:00.

The formal presentation will cover the process of the Zion Canyon Transportation Technical Analysis, a financial analysis overview, potential scenarios for the future of the shuttle system, and partnership opportunities.

Specific improvement needs and strategies being considered include visitor communications and wayfinding, pedestrian and bicycle connectivity, south entrance area congestion management, shuttle system facilities and streetscape maintenance, shuttle service adjustments, vehicle rehabilitation/replacement options, and parking options.

The community input and brainstorming session will include time for public comments, group discussion, and brainstorming on potential solutions and strategies.

An executive summary covering some of the basic recommendations from the technical analysis will be posted on the park’s website next week.

Comments

I was lucky enough to work in Zion during the shuttle's inaugural summer; the shuttle drastically improved air quality in and restored a quality of silence and serenity to Zion Canyon. Whatever the glitches in the system, I'm sure they can be worked out rather easily.

Is the shuttle the only way one can get around now? Have they completely eliminated vehicles? I hope not! I would rather have my own vehicle and the flexibility it offers.

The only way to get into Zion Canyon proper, unless you're staying at the lodge, is by shuttle. That said, the shuttle is seasonal. It usually operates from mid-to-late March into October.

You can find a primer on the shuttle here.

Anon, I normally prefer to have my own vehicle for the flexibility, too. But in Zion Canyon during the summer months, having a personal vehicle is a liability. There simply isn't enough parking in the canyon in the summer, and people often drove up and down the road over and over looking for a spot. It's very stressful and clouds enjoyment--and the air--of the park. In contrast, the shuttle eliminates the stress of driving and searching for non-existent parking. Shuttles operate frequently, and without cars on most of Zion Canyon Drive, visitors are safer to bike or walk the road. By doing so, they'll be able to enjoy an Anasazi ruin, a waterfall, the river, deer, tarantulas, and more that they could never have experience from the confines of their cars. Winter in Zion Canyon--I'm told--is another matter entirely.

I have found the flexibility of shuttle services at various National Parks to be a great way to explore, much easier than driving my own rig.
And the Zion shuttle looks to be about just right!
With a fully loaded day pack I will catch the first bus into the park, get off at any one of the many stops and take to a trail. Catch up with another shuttle at a stop, jump off at another stop and explore.
Repeat until the driver says, "Whoa there pal, I am the last bus!" :-)

Our family of four visited Zion and 4-5 other parks a few summers back.
When we found out we would need to take a shuttle bus I thought they were
kidding. I love my car. BUT - it worked out just fine - the buses ran just about on time
and when they were a little late getting to the stop to pick us up, no problem - you
were in Zion, the scenery is beautiful. And no doubt the beauty was enhanced by the fact there
were no traffic jams.

We visited Zion a year ago and I, too, was distressed to not have my car with me. It is so convenient and it is what we were used to. But, the shuttles were very user friendly and it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. We didn't have to spend time looking for a parking spot. the shuttles run quite frequently and there plenty of stops. I was worried about riding a bus with hiking gear but that was no problem. The good things very much outweighed the inconvenience of not having the car.

I have used the shuttle and found it great. Keep it running. There is no need for cars in the park on a wholesale basis.

The shuttle system is NOT good if you have a baby, which is really the only downfall of the shuttle system I've found. When my first was as old as 2 and a half, it was ok because a toddler requires a lot less baggage compared to a baby. Well... we have another baby -she is just a month old- and we scratched Zion off of our travel plans for next summer because of the shuttle. With the baby, the hiking stroller, the mammoth diaper bag, the backpacks for us, the water bottles... there is simply way too much stuff to juggle and try to squeeze on and off of a crowded shuttle. A pack mule would be much more efficent when traveling with a baby than the shuttle bus.

We were at Zion 2 years ago and we found that when traveling with kids, going during the early morning hours or in the evening was the only way to go. The main problem, for those of you with families who want to go visit Zion, is that the shuttles fill up to capacity during the afternoon. We found that if we got off the shuttle for any reason, we would be waiting for a long time -as much as 7 different shuttle buses to pass- before we found a shuttle bus that had room for us to get back on. Kids get down right hostile after the 3rd or 4th bus passes and they still aren't able to get on it, especially if they've run out of water. However, early in the morning (which is the best time in the summer to experience the park anyway without the super heat) the buses aren't nearly as crowded, and after 4 they tend to lighten up too, based on our experience.

I completely understand why Zion went to shuttles, and I completely support the concept. Once our newest family member learns how to walk, we'll go back. It's spectacular!

When we visited relatives in Las Vegas about a year ago, we went up to Zion for a day trip. I was somewhat leery of the shuttles, wondering if they would be on time and come by frequently.

After experiencing it, I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't imagine what Zion would be like if everyone was driving their own cars. With the shuttle you don't have to worry about driving or parking. Even if you don't have a lot of time for hiking, with the shuttle you can just hop on for the ride up and back while you sit back and enjoy the scenery.

I live just an hour away from Zion and visit the Park many times a year. Each year I look forward to the shuttles closing so I can drive anywhere in the park, stop and get out my camera. I can come for a few hours or the whole day. But that works because there are few cars in the park from late October through March. While I miss being able to use my car in the summer I'd get much more frustrated trying to find a parking space than I get having to use the shuttle. So shuttle on!

I visited the park the summer before last and utilized the shuttle buses which only added to the experience. Not only were the buses reliable and easy to use, but each bus comes with its own built in tour guide! The drivers were friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable about the park. Most of the drivers were there because they loved working in the park. I personally can't wait to get back to visit again, but I would definately only come back when the shuttles were running. The shuttle bus system at Zion should be the model for all other national parks in my opinion.