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Contact: Ron Terry, 435-772-0160
Superintendent Jock Whitworth has announced that the temporary closure of the Canyon Overlook parking lot which began August 3, 2009 will be extended through September 13, 2009. The original closure was for four weeks. The additional time is needed to better evaluate the effects of the closure on visitor safety, the tunnel escort operation, and the visitor experience. Visitors wishing to hike on the Canyon Overlook Trail will need to continue to park in the paved lot 100 yards east of the Canyon Overlook trailhead and use the sidewalk to access the trail. The restroom in the parking lot will remain open.
The Canyon Overlook parking lot was designed and built in the 1930’s when annual visitation to the park was 15,000 visitors and the average size of a vehicle was much smaller. Motor vehicle accidents and numerous near misses at the East side of the Zion Tunnel have created serious safety concerns related to both rangers working the tunnel escort operation and park visitors.
The parking lot closure was instituted to study its overall effect on safety at the busy and congested Tunnel East location. If the closure demonstrates improvements in visitor and employee safety, the park will consider implementing a permanent closure. If a permanent closure occurs, backcountry use limits for Pine Creek and Spry Canyon may need to be reduced due to the limited available parking.
Due to the popularity of the Canyon Overlook Trail, it is recommended that visitors arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to find parking spaces. For safety reasons, parking on the road shoulder will not be allowed. Canyoneers wishing to access Spry or Pine Creek Canyons are encouraged to carpool or use one of several private shuttle services available in the town of Springdale.