ST. GEORGE — The new president of a nonprofit group said the spring-shoulder season is a “fantastic” time for Southern Utahans to visit the Zion Corridor.

Two wildland fire engines follow a privately owned jeep during a parade in Springdale, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

Cade Campbell, president of the Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau, told St. George News that afternoons and evenings are the best time for locals to enjoy the area.

“Parking is free after 5 p.m.,” Campbell said. “Many restaurants up here are not franchises. Every restaurant in Springdale is independently owned and operated. There is a Subway, but that’s the only franchise here in town. So there are very unique dining experiences.”

Springdale has free shuttles to gift shops, art galleries and restaurants. He said you can walk around on the sidewalks if you don’t want to ride the free shuttles.

“The shoulder seasons are always desirable times to visit Springdale: February, March, October and November. By the end of March, it is really busy during the daytime. Almost 5 million visitors last year for Zion National Park,” Campbell said. “But the evenings are a time that no matter how busy it is here, the evenings are a fantastic time to come and enjoy dinner, the shops and the galleries.”

The bureau is updating its website to create a better digital presence on social media. He said all board positions, including webmaster and social media manager, are filled by volunteers. People interested in keeping up on events should click here to receive email reminders.

The group will continue to print a popular informational map, which is available to any business that wants to distribute to their visitors.

“It’s a nonprofit. It is run by local volunteers who have a stake in the canyon. So stakeholders could be business owners, employees, or residents,” Campbell said. “All those entities have a say in the Bureau itself in what we do. We have monthly board meetings and membership meetings.”

Bagpipe players in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Springdale, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Jonathan Shafer, National Park Service, St. George News

The Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau has over 110 members, including Springdale, Rockville and Virgin.

“We haven’t included the east side of Zion National Park and have had discussions about possibly paring back down out of Virgin. Virgin was added on about five years ago when there was some development happening in that town,” Campbell said. “Now it’s at the point where they have enough commerce that they may start doing their own thing, but that’s a whole other discussion.”

Campbell praised Nate Wells, who he replaced as president of the Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau. Wells is the general manager of Zion Canyon Village, which has multiple businesses at the park’s entrance. Campbell said Wells has had a great relationship with the National Park Service and Zion National Park Service over the years.

The board consists of Campbell, the recently elected president; Paul Hanson, the general manager of Best Western, who is the treasurer; and Tricia Clark, the manager of Bumbleberry, who is the secretary.

“Tricia’s been the secretary for a long time and she’s a big help,” Campbell said. “We also have a community outreach member, Dylan Schaefer. He is our digital marketing manager at Flanagan’s Resort, where I’m the property manager.”

Additionally, Wells is still on the board and is guiding Campbell for the year. Campbell said he appreciates the support of his board and Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau members.

The McCown family, which has owned Flanagan’s Resort since 1978, has been a major supporter of the organization.

“Now, the second generation owns and runs this. So the McCown family gives me a lot of support to give to the visitors bureau,” Campbell said. “It’s tied into my position here, and it’s not something that I have to do extra. The McCown family and Rebecca McCown, the president, have a long reputation of supporting the community and spearheading grassroots efforts.”

Zion National Park Rangers in a Springdale Fourth of July Parade, Springdale, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

One advantage of being a Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau member is the opportunity to co-fund with state and county agencies for a “myriad of things.” Campbell said the board plans to focus specifically on obtaining advertising and federal and state grant funds to showcase the towns in the Zion Corridor.

Campbell thanked the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office for being one of their partners and explained the town’s challenge in marketing.

“They work with us on a monthly basis in our meetings and we exchange information back and forth and we feel that they’re a big support,” Campbell said. “But, there’s a struggle that the canyon faces with getting that portrayal out to the world about Springdale specifically, rather than the whole county.”

Cambell said the Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau will strive to educate visitors about how unique and special Springdale is.

“It’s basically this mouth of the canyon along this riparian zone, along the river, that is a very, very unique place, not only in Utah but in most of the world, where you have a gateway community that’s at the mouth of a large attraction; like West Yellowstone or Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains,” Campbell said.

One factor that makes the area unusual is the care taken to make it feel like an extension of Zion National Park. Campbell said Springdale officials, residents and stakeholders have worked for years to make it appear that way.

“It did not just happen. There are strict codes for even the color of exteriors that you can have, as well as the roof designs and things like that. The codes are very strict,” Campbell said. “Some people think that they’re overbearing on property rights. But in the end, whatever side you’re on, you can experience a unique village setting in this modern world where you don’t have blazing signs, crazy lights, big parking garages and all of that over-commercialization.”

Campbell said the codes help people feel they are in a national park in Springdale. He stated the town’s roads and signage are similar to the park service style of the last 100 years. The town’s color palette restricts what can be put on signs, so there aren’t bright colors.

“You have the seamless feeling of entering and exiting the park back and forth between Zion Canyon and Springdale,” Campbell said

An event that has been popular with area residents and tourists is the St. Patrick’s Day festival on Saturday, March 16, with a parade at 2 p.m. After the parade, the Bumbleberry will host a free festival until 7 p.m., with free bounce houses,  a slide and a climbing wall. There will also be live music, booths and food trucks. Green beer and cocktails will be available for purchase.

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