Construction Schedule Changes Improve Hiking Access at Zion National Park

With the latest change in the schedule of construction along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway through the eastern side of Zion National Park, access to some hiking trails has gotten better.

Since the bulk of the construction is now being staged overnight, all canyons and trails leading off from the highway will again be opened during daylight hours, according to Zion Superintendent Jock Whitworth.

The previous schedule had these areas restricted Monday through Friday. Trail and off-trail hiking opportunities accessed along the road will be available Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and at all times between Friday at 8:00 a.m. to Sunday at 8:00 p.m., the superintendent said. All hikers must be back to their cars and moving out of the construction zone at 8:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, he added.

Advance reservations for backcountry permits in the area between the Canyon Junction and the park’s East Entrance will not be accepted for the duration of the construction. First-come, first-served backcountry permits will be available at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Permits will also be issued at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. These permits can be picked up on the day before, or the same day of the trip. Permitting procedures for areas outside the construction zone remain the same.

Due to construction parking, staging, and other activities, the number of people permitted to travel through the Pine Creek Canyon canyoneering route may be lowered at times, park officials say.

Construction closures should end by October 28, 2010.

Updates on the availability of permits for canyoneering routes will be available on the park website at www.nps.gov/zion or by calling the backcountry desk at 435-772-0170. Road information is also available on the website or by calling 435-772-3256 (press 1, then 4).