Starting Friday, Zion National Park will increase the ticket price for a ride on one of its highly popular shuttles from $1 to $2 per person, per day.
After receiving public comment, the park is going ahead with the increase to help cover staffing and operational costs associated with the ticket system.
With the pandemic raging last summer, the national park used a ticketing system through Recreation.gov to control crowds and maintain social distancing.
The ticket system provides predictable access to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which covers the park’s main canyon and handles the vast majority of the 4 million-plus visitors who come to the park each year.
Officials say they expect the ticket system to remain in place through the summer and potentially into the fall, and staff is needed in multiple locations to take tickets, answer questions, keep lines short and maintain social distancing and other pandemic guidelines, according to an April press release from the NPS.
“Visitation has increased dramatically from early pandemic levels, necessitating reestablishment of visitor services and work can no longer be delayed on critical park projects, and it is therefore no longer financially feasible to absorb operational costs associated with the ticketing system,” according to the release.
Zion shuttle tickets used to be free, and buses still adorn the “free” decals.
However, free tickets can still be obtained during the walk-up hours starting at 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center, though this is on a first-come-first-served basis.
Otherwise, tickets can be purchased in advance twice a month or 5 p.m. the day before the ticket’s date.
The schedule for ticket releases is as follows:
- June 1-15, advance tickets are released on May 16, at 9 a.m.
- June 16-30, advance tickets are released on May 31, at 9 a.m.
- July 1-15, advance tickets are released on June 16, at 9 a.m.
- July 16-31, advance tickets are released on June 30, at 9 a.m.
- August 1-15, advance tickets are released on July 16, at 9 a.m.
- August 16-31, 2021, advance tickets are released on July 30, at 9 a.m.
This shuttle system will continue to run through September 19 from 6 a.m. to around 7 p.m.
Elsewhere in the park, all services and trails are now open with more information on specific services available on the NPS website.
Previous coverage: Zion National Park receives $33 million for electric shuttle buses
The park is encouraging visitors to continue to leave no trace, visit respectfully and maintain pandemic precautions with mandatory face masks in all buildings and lines.
A press release encouraged visitors to take the Zion Pledge, “a personal promise you can make to protect yourself and the park. Please share your #ZionPledge story on social media and encourage family and friends to do the same.”
K. Sophie Will is the National Parks Reporter for The Spectrum & Daily News through the Report for America initiative by The GroundTruth Project. Follow her on Twitter at @ksophiewill or email her at [email protected] Donate to Report for America here.