Proposed changes for frontcountry camping and Wilderness Recreation Permits at Zion National Park

August 1, 2023

To Whom it May Concern,

The National Park Service (NPS) seeks comments on proposed changes for frontcountry camping and Wilderness Recreation Permits at Zion National Park (Zion). Camping related proposals include increases for frontcountry camping fees. Wilderness Recreation Permit proposals include the transition of the current Wilderness Recreation Permit system to Recreation.gov and moving to a per-person rather than group size-based fee structure. These changes reflect other similar campground and recreation permits in our region and help the park address costs for maintenance and operations.

Park fees are authorized under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) of 2004. Zion has not changed camping or wilderness permit fees since 2015 and 2016, respectively. Following civic engagement and NPS approval, new fees up to the amounts outlined below could be implemented as soon as January 2024, or as services become available online or in the park.


Fee Increase for Frontcountry Camping

Zion has three frontcountry campgrounds: Watchman, South, and Lava Point. Since the last camping fee increase in 2015, visitation to the park has risen steadily and demand for these facilities has also increased. In response, the park has taken measures to extend camping seasons and increase reservable inventory during the shoulder and off seasons. Expanded availability has increased the need for extending staff throughout the year to manage reservations and campgrounds. Heavier use of facilities has also increased the need for campground maintenance. Increasing campground rates is critical to helping the park keep up with rising costs for supplies, labor, and utilities. The park arrived at these new rates using a comparative analysis with similar campgrounds in the region. The proposed nightly fee structure is as follows:

Location

Activity

Current

Proposed

Watchman Campground

Standard, Electric Campsite

$30

$45

Watchman and South Campground

Standard, Non-Electric Campsite

$20

$35

Lava Point Campground

Standard, Non-Electric Campsite

$20

$25

Watchman and South Campground

Dump Station fee for non-campers only

$0

$5



Wilderness Recreation Permit Transition to Recreation.gov


Zion proposes to transition the current Wilderness Recreation Permit system, which is housed on the park’s website and maintained by a third-party contractor, to Recreation.gov. Recreation.gov is used by Federal land managers across the United States to manage permit and reservation processes via a single secure platform. This change will benefit visitors by streamlining these processes and providing a consistent permit and reservation system for all users. Zion also proposes to transition to a per-person structure rather than the current group size-based fee structure. The proposed changes in fee structure aim to align costs with the type of visitor opportunity being provided, like other National Park sites and local area activities. By moving to a per person per day and a per person per night fee structure for Wilderness permits, the cost per individual stays the same across the various permitted Wilderness activities.

Your input is essential to help the NPS develop the online tools that visitors will use to access the system. As the transition to Recreation.gov proceeds, more information will be made available regarding the system's operation, such as lottery application and booking windows. The tables below summarize the current and proposed fee structure. Note that “Day Use” refers to permits obtained only for the day in which they are authorized and no overnight stay in the park is needed (e.g. a day long canyoneering trip). “Overnight Use” refers to permits for which an overnight stay in the park is needed (e.g. an overnight camping trip to a wilderness camp site).

Application Process

Description

Current

Proposed

DAY USE*see current group rates below the table

Seasonal Lottery Example: Mystery Canyon and Left Fork "Subway."

Apply months in advance for a chance to obtain Day Use permits in high demand locations.

$5 per application.If selected, additional permit fee charged based on group size Wilderness Office*.

$6 per application.If selected, an additional $10 per person fee charged online.

Day Use ReservationsExample: Day Use Canyoneering trips.

Select the area and date for a desired trip in advance to secure a space for that date and location.

$5 per booking. Additional permit fee charged based on group size at Wilderness Office*.

$6 per booking.Additional $10 per person fee charged online upon securing a booking.

Daily LotteryExample: All Day Use Canyoneering trips.

Apply a few days before for a chance to obtain a Day Use Permit.

$5 per application. If selected, additional permit fee charged based on group size at Wilderness Office*.

$6 per application. If selected, an additional $10 per person fee charged online.

Walk-up Day UseExample: All Day Use Canyoneering trips.

The day of or day before a trip, obtain a permit in person on site for any areas not already booked.

No booking fee. Additional permit fee charged based on group size at Wilderness Office*.

$6 booking fee.Additional $10 per person fee charged upon securing a booking at Wilderness Office.

OVERNIGHT USE

Overnight Use ReservationExample: Overnight backpacking and climbing trips

Select the area and date for a desired trip in advance to secure a space for that date and location.

$5 per booking. Additional permit fee charged based on group size at Wilderness Office*.

$20 booking fee.Additional $7 per person per night fee charged online upon securing a booking.

Walk-up Overnight UseExample: Overnight backpacking and climbing trips

The day of or day before a trip, obtain a permit in person on site for any areas not booked or available for reservations.

No booking fee. Additional permit fee charged based on group size at Wilderness Office.*

$20 booking fee.Additional $7 per person per night fee charged upon securing a booking at Wilderness Office.


*Current Group Size Rates

  • Up to 2 people, $15 per group per permit

  • 3 to 7 people, $20 per group per permit

  • 8 to 12 people, $25 per group per permit


How to Share Your Thoughts


Public comments on proposed changes for frontcountry camping and Wilderness Recreation Permits at Zion are being accepted from August 1 through August 31, 2023 on the NPS Planning, Environment, & Public Comment (PEPC) website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ZionPermitsandCamping or through the mail by writing to:

ZION Superintendent
ATTN: Frontcountry Camping and Wilderness Recreation Permit Fee Changes
1 Zion Park Blvd, State Route 9
Springdale, UT 84767

You may also contact the ZION Visitor Use Manager, Susan McPartland, by email at e-mail us.

Our national parks provide citizens an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and sanctuary for our spirits. The NPS strives to provide extraordinary experiences for visitors to Zion through safe, healthful, and inspirational programs. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Jeff Bradybaugh
Superintendent

Last updated: August 1, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767

Phone:

435-772-3256
If you have questions, please email zion_park_information@nps.gov. Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

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