Fall can be a wonderful time to see Zion National Park, and the free shuttle service in Zion Canyon allows you to concentrate on the scenery instead of a search for a parking place. The shuttle will continue to run during November, but on a reduced schedule. Here's what you need to know for a visit.
During busier months of the year, private vehicles aren't allowed on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and free shuttle service is provided for park visitors. Now that visitation has slowed, the shuttle service has shifted to a voluntary system, on a reduced schedule until the end of November. If you're visiting on a weekend or during the Thanksgiving holiday, it's still a great idea to take the shuttle.
Here's the official information from the park about the fall schedule:
The mandatory shuttle service on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in Zion National Park and shuttle service in Springdale, Utah, has ended for the season. The park will be providing a voluntary shuttle service on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive on Saturday and Sunday, through November. Shuttle service will also be offered on Thanksgiving Day, November 26 and Friday, November 27.
All shuttle bus operations will end for the 2009 season on the evening of November 29.
During the voluntary shuttle service, visitors are encouraged to park at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and board a shuttle bus. Shuttle buses will not be running in Springdale.
The buses will start running from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 10 a.m. The last bus will leave the Temple of Sinawava at 5:30 pm, the Lodge at 5:44 pm, and arrive at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 6 pm. Shuttle service frequency will be approximately every 14 minutes. Round trips from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to the Temple of Sinawava will take about 70 minutes.
As in the mandatory shuttle season, there is no charge for riding the shuttle buses. There are eight stops along the route and visitors may get on and off as many times as they want. Buses are fully accessible and pets are not allowed.
You can download a map of the Zion Canyon area, which shows the shuttle stops and points of interest.
Even though use of the shuttle is on a voluntary basis during November weekends, visitors are encouraged to use the system to cut down on congestion in parking areas and along the road itself. Those who do not use the buses are asked to park only in designated parking places along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. One more polite reminder from the park staff: "Do not block or obstruct the shuttle stops, access to the stops, or the main roadway. Parking regulations will be strictly enforced."
The system has helped take a lot of private vehicles off the road in the park. A final tally for the year won't be available until after the end of November, but thus far in 2009, visitors made a total of 3,403,985 trips on the system at Zion.
Ron Terry, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services at the park, explained that visitors are allowed to get on and off the shuttles as often as they wish, and it's not feasible to keep track of multiple trips by individual riders, so that number reflects the total number of times someone boarded one of the buses.
Even though the shuttle system will shut down for the winter at the end of November, the park is open all year. Some facilities may close or operate on a reduced schedule from late fall until spring, and the park website includes details on operating hours and other information to help plan your visit.
Shuttle operations are scheduled to resume at Zion in the spring of 2010.