SPRINGDALE, Washington County — The explosive growth in visitation at Zion National Park is compelling the National Park Service to consider changes at the south entrance, including moving the monument site and parking area farther to the east.
Such a move, park officials say, would eliminate the need for visitors to congregate in the roadway and cause a safety hazard and traffic congestion.
The South Entrance Monument Site is a renowned park feature that is a favorite photographic backdrop for millions of visitors. It is more than 80 years old.
The proposed project, up for public comment through Dec. 28, would move the monument about 28 feet from its current location and include the installation of a monument plaza and walkway. The monument parking area would also be restructured.
Visitation at Zion National Park has shot up from 2.6 million visitors in 2006 to nearly 3.7 million in 2015.
Park officials say the increase in visitation is putting a strain on park resources and adding to the wait time to enter the park.
The changes at the south entrance, which would be done in the off season during a 60- to 90-day window, would coincide with the larger, planned reconstruction of state Route 9 by the Utah Department of Transportation.
Park service officials are preparing an environmental assessment on the monument site reconfiguration. The public is encouraged to review the information, identify any concerns or express ideas or comments online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/zion