ST. GEORGE — There is never a bad time to visit Zion, but if you plan to travel to the park during Thanksgiving Day weekend, the National Park Service wants you to know what to expect.

According to a news release issued by the park service, here’s what park officials anticipate:   

Lengthy waits to board park shuttles in Springdale and Zion National Park. 
Long lines at entrance stations, visitor centers, restrooms and trailheads. 
Heavy traffic in Springdale and throughout the park. 

Thanksgiving 2023 visits to Zion

Zion Canyon Shuttle System operating single-unit buses 

This fall, the park service determined that Zion Canyon Shuttle Bus trailers have reached the end of their service lives. Riders should expect limited capacity with single-unit buses operating in Zion Canyon and the town of Springdale. To assist with rider capacity, the park is already operating the first of its new, all-electric shuttle bus fleet and anticipates more entering service in spring 2024.

Zion Lodge trail bridge to Emerald Pools remains closed 

In this file photo, large lines of people await the shuttles inside Zion National Park, Utah, June 3, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The trail bridge over the Virgin River at Zion Lodge (Shuttle Stop #5) is closed. Hikers can still visit Emerald Pools from the Grotto (Shuttle Stop #6) on the Kayenta Trail. Check a map before you start your hike to plan accordingly. Keep in mind that you will not be able to cross the river at Zion Lodge (Shuttle Stop #5). 

Temperatures are falling 

Check conditions if you plan to be outside. Air temperatures are near freezing at night, and water temperatures have been consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the Virgin River (The Narrows). Check the forecast and dress in layers to stay warm. 

Angels Landing Pilot Permit Program 

Remember to apply the day before for a permit to hike to Angels Landing. Everyone needs to have a permit, and you need to bring ID to show a ranger with it. You may encounter a ranger anywhere on the trail or the route with chains. Arrive early so that you do not miss the hike start time on your permit.

Big Bend (shuttle stop 8) is temporarily closed due to construction.  

In order to accommodate larger, electric shuttle buses that are scheduled to enter service in 2024 and to resolve significant cracking in concrete on the edges of the paved area at Big Bend, the National Park Service is completing construction at Big Bend. While work is happening, the paved area at the shuttle stop is fenced closed. Depending on the availability of materials and winter weather, the park plans to reopen Big Bend in spring 2024.

Weeping Rock 

A Ride Zion Adventures tour guide caught images and video of the rockslide at Weeping Rock on Tuesday afternoon within Zion National Park, Utah, Nov. 14, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Nolan Hanson, St. George News

Following the rockfall on Nov. 14, Weeping Rock Shuttle Stop, parking area and trail remain closed until further notice while park scientists and maintenance staff assess rock in the area.

Attend a ranger-led talk 

Park Rangers deliver three free talks every day at Zion Canyon Visitor Center. If you arrive and there is a long line to board the shuttle, consider attending a talk to learn about Zion before waiting to board a shuttle into the park.

Free ranger talks happen outside of the Zion Canyon Visitor Center every day at: 

11 a.m. 
1:30 p.m. 
3 p.m.

Whether you ride a shuttle or enter Zion Canyon on foot or bike, be prepared for crowds. Remember:

Put your pass in your pocket. Don’t leave your park pass or entrance receipt in a car or hotel room. If you do, you will have to buy another when you arrive. 
Parking fills early year-round. 
Watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists if you are driving. 
Stay on trails and avoid walking in the road. 
Ride your bike on the Pa’Rus Trail or the road. Bicycling is not allowed on any other trails in the park. If you are riding in the road, you must stop to let buses pass you. 
The park service may temporarily close roads if traffic is congested or there is nowhere for drivers to park. 

Plan ahead and prepare 
If you cannot park in Zion or if all of our campsites are full, research nearby communities and public lands to learn about other recreational activities and lodging.  Always recreate responsibly and respect private owners’ property and facilities.

Follow Leave No Trace practices everywhere in the park and beyond; be sure to pack out all your trash.