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Zion National Park math: fewer parking spots equals fewer hikers

Published July 31, 2012 1:54 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I'll say it again: A great irony of hiking in Utah is you often drive a long way just to get out and walk. So if you want to lessen the number of hikers, it makes sense to impact their ability to drive, or at least park the car. Zion National Park this month announced it is reducing the size of the parking lot at the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek trail head. The press release announcing the move said Zion was trying "to help fight overcrowding" on the trail. The trail head is in the Kolob Canyons section of the park and leads to the Double Arch Alcove — a popular destination because of the cooler temperatures the alcove provides in the summer. From park Superintendent Jock Whitworth via the press release:"We are mandated to manage that part of the park as wilderness, which involves limiting the number of visitors and the size of groups on certain trails. This enables us to provide a sense of solitude that can't be found in the main canyon at Zion."The Park Service didn't specify how much of the parking lot it's going to cordon with fences. The Park Service also didn't specify what it's going to do if people try to park on the shoulder of the road (where there is one) instead of the lot. It's an interesting tool the park service has deployed. Perhaps managers felt this would create less of an outcry than the permit system used at other federal and state trails where hiking is limited. What do you think? Is limiting hikers onto Middle Fork of Taylor Creek a good idea? Is reducing a parking lot an effective way to achieve that goal? — Nate CarlisleTwitter: @UtahHikes