Kolob Canyons Road reopens and Zion’s shuttle service shuts down until the Christmas holidays

Visitors can now use personal vehicles to tour Zion Canyon

After undergoing repair and a major upgrade over the past two months, Kolob Canyons Road in west Zion National Park has been reopened to the public.

Portions of the road have been closed since September when work got underway to repair damage from a landslide that occurred last spring and to make the recreational thoroughfare more resistant to damage from weather and water, according to a Zion National Park release this week.

Working in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service excavated unstable materials and reinforced the road’s base to a depth of 8 feet with geo-grid structural cloth and compacted soil,” the news release stated.

Crews also repaved more than 6,000 square feet of pavement and installed ditches, curbs and gutters to more effectively drain water from the road. Now the work is completed, the Kolob Canyons area will be fully accessible once again. That part of the park attracted nearly 129,000 visitors in 2022, a fraction of the nearly 4.7 million visitors for the park as a whole.

Other parts of Zion will remain closed, including the Weeping Rock trail, parking lot and shuttle stop area that was covered in dust by a rockfall on Nov. 15. Park spokesperson Jonathan Shafer said park scientists are still monitoring the area to ensure it is stable and safe.

The Zion Lodge trail bridge to Emerald Pools is also closed, although hikers can still access Emerald Pools from the Grotto shuttle stop on the Kayenta Trail. The Big Bend shuttle stop area is closed until spring while work continues to repair cracks in the pavement and to prep the area to accommodate larger, electric shuttles that are slated to begin operations in 2024, according to park officials.

Visitors will no longer be required to board a shuttle to tour Zion Canyon. The park’s fall shuttle bus service ended last Sunday, meaning visitors are allowed to use their vehicles to tour the canyon. The shuttle service for the canyon and Springdale will resume briefly from Dec. 22 through Dec. 31 for the Christmas holidays. Personal-vehicle access will resume Jan. 1 and continue until shuttle service is resumed sometime next spring, according to Shafer.

However, that doesn’t mean there will be unrestricted visitation to Zion Canyon. Once the roughly 300 parking spots in the canyon are full, park rangers will manage access to ensure there aren’t more vehicles than spaces to put them.

“The reason we do that is to avoid gridlock,” Shafer said. “We want to direct people to areas where they are going to be able to park and have an enjoyable experience.”

Visitors can access the Zion website to receive the latest updates on operating hours and a full list of closures.