ZION NATIONAL PARK: OPEN DURING THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?
I’m a diva for warm weather. So sue me. So when Caitlin and I found cheap hotels for Saint George, Utah for this weekend, we didn’t have to be convinced. And yes, I realize the entire post below is full of snow, but it was probably 15 degrees warmer than Lehi, even in Zion National Park, and thus was better than being in Lehi. Plus the air quality wasn’t toxic and it was just rad being out of the house for the weekend. This is a short post, so buckle up.
IS ZION NATIONAL PARK OPEN DURING THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN? (HINT: YES. GO.)
YES! I’ve yakked about it pretty much every post, but a major reason I have this blog is to make it so people don’t have to go looking at 1,000 different sites to plan a trip. I hate having to pick and choose stuff from a bunch of sources to plan a trip. My idea with Jetset is that I give you a detailed itinerary with a bunch of logical and logistical stuff and you change as needed.
Even something as simple as, “Is Zion open during the shutdown and can we go in?” gave me like a million results so we just decided to figure it out. And we did.
So, when Caitlin and I found this cheap hotel for this weekend, we figured we’d try and check out Zion since we were less than an hour away and Caitlin hadn’t been for years. But, was it open? Would we be able to drive in? Were the shuttles running? Would outhouses be overflowing with dung like other parks are? Would there be mounds of garbage everywhere? Answers below…and you won’t BELIEVE what you read. (Trying for more clickbait on this blog)
YES ZION IS OPEN AND YES IT RULES EVEN IN WINTER
Zion was open. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to pay the entrance fee. What a shame. A real shame. So right away you’ll save $35. And I’m not sure if it was just because it was winter or because of the shutdown, but the park was super empty, which was great. The trails were open and the air was fresh. Yeah, it was snowy and slushy but it was still fun.
Some of the actual bathroom facilities were locked, but at stops 5, 6, and 9, we saw outhouses that were open and not completely awful. So don’t worry about that. Plus, with so few people, there’s no wait to go.
We didn’t see any overflowing garbage (yet), so don’t worry about that either.
NO SHUTTLES…NO PROBLEM
I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s winter or because of the shutdown, but there were no shuttles running. Once again, I tried 5 different blogs and websites and they seemingly all said different things as far as where to park and whether the shuttles or not would be running. Well, there was not a shuttle running. But it didn’t matter, because since the park was so empty, you could drive to whatever stop you want and park wherever. It wasn’t even close to being full at any of the 3 lots we parked in.
EASY WALK: LOWER EMERALD POOL
Since it was rainy and slushy, we knew we couldn’t do anything crazy like Angels Landing, but we were just there to enjoy the day, and since it was free, we didn’t feel the need to do everything. First stop: Emerald Pools. Drive to shuttle stop 5 and if the shutdown is still happening, park wherever you want. The lower pool is the only one open in winter (it’s gated off at the end of the lower pool trail), but it’s a nice and easy hike. So easy, in fact, that we saw multiple toddlers and parents with babies walking up. There’s a few feet where it gets steep, but for the most part it’s chill and super pretty at the top.
Zion in the winter actually reminded me of north Iceland (yeah, everything reminds me of Iceland) because it was a bit wet and gray but not bitter. Plus, the rocks and everything just look like some weird alien landscape, which is one of my favorite things about Iceland. At the top of the lower pool, there was a trickle of water coming off the cliff, but all sorts of cool icicles and weird ice formations. Plus, underneath the cave, you can chill out of the wet. The pool was all frozen over but there was still a flowing stream going strong. The walk is .6 miles so it took us less than an hour round trip. I would suggest waterproof stuff, but we saw people in casual clothes and it was still fine.
STOP 2: WEEPING ROCK
Weeping rock may be cooler to people who aren’t colorblind…i.e. anyone but me. You just drive up to stop 7, and you’re pretty much there. The walk up is super short, although in the winter it was quite icy and yes, I did take a tumble. Luckily only my pride was hurt. But again, it was very fast and easy, even with the slight incline. The rock itself at the top of the walk is cool and supposedly a bunch of different colors. Whatever, I don’t need to see color anyways. It provided some sweet views and more weird ice formations everywhere. If you’re there, might as well do it.
STOP 3: RIVERWALK
Last, we drove up to shuttle stop 9 and did the River Walk. You can walk right down to the river, which provides some nice photos, then walk along the trail. It’s actually wheelchair accessible up to a point, and provides some cool views of the massive rocks as well as the river and trees and cacti and all sorts of stuff. We even saw a few families of deer. We only walked about 20 minutes, but we saw all we wanted to see and it was great.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!
We spent about 3 hours total. The roads were wet but not super slick. It was very slushy but we came back relatively dry. It had some fog and mist but we still saw lots odd natural beauty. So let the government stay shut down forever for all we care…we’ll still be enjoying Zion.
Share your thoughts
Please Sign In to leave a comment.
I personally recommend Canyon Overlook (East side of the tunnel)...no shuttle needed, easy short hike to a beautiful view. Pa’rus Trail is supposed to be nice (I only camped near it but didn’t hike it so I don’t have personal experience) and it’s within walking distance from the Visitor center.
These photos are stunning! I dont know too much about Zion but it sounds incredible. Have you been any other time when its not snowing? Would you recommend going in winter or another time? Lucky you got in for free!
Please Sign In to leave a comment.