Zion National Park breaks record for annual visitors…and it isn’t without a cost

Feb 28, 2022, 3:09 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2022, 5:55 am

SPRINGDALE, Utah — Zion National Park recorded over 5 million visits in 2021, the most in park history according to a release from the park.

The exact number of visitors for 2021 was 5,039,835. Not many national parks get that many visitors.

“Clearly our visitors value their parks and public lands.  At the same time, intense visitation presents challenges to achieve our mission to conserve the park’s resources and provide engaging visitor experiences – experiences that lift and renew our spirits,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park superintendent. “More visitors are enjoying Zion than ever before. At the same time, we are straining to protect the unique resources that make Zion special and live up to our high standards for visitor service.”

However, the milestone doesn’t come without a cost. The visitations have doubled over the last decade impacting Zion’s landscapes, plants, animals, staff, volunteers, infrastructure, visitor’s experiences, partners and locals.

The release stated, “Zion is working with our neighbors and stakeholders in federal, state, county and municipal governments to understand what increased visitation has meant for them, as well as the park. Looking to the future, the National Park Service will continue to work collaboratively so that we protect the unique resources that make Zion an iconic destination. At the same time, the NPS must address increasing pressure on park resources, NPS staff and volunteers and a significant infrastructure maintenance backlog.”

The NPS has been developing a comprehensive plan to continue providing quality experiences to visitors while sustainably managing park resources. As part of this plan development, the park is trying different solutions and collecting data and info on visitor use and preferences. One of these solutions is the recently announced Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program. 

The park stated they intend to share updates on their research and planning for the future of the park.

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Zion National Park breaks record for annual visitors…and it isn’t without a cost