As warmer weather starts hitting Zion National Park, the amount of visitors in the park increases. This fluctuation of increase can cause any amount of problems for the park manager and those working in the area.
The latest complex problem that park management and officials are having to figure out has been the crowds along the Angels Landing trail. The increase in crowds leads to safety concerns, adds stress to the parks infrastructure, and can at times lead to a poor visitor experience.
With the crowds at Angels Landing increasing every day, how can park management address the problem? A few solutions have been discussed. In a facebook post released on April 11th, park officials stated that for a solution to truly be successful at addressing the problem, it needed to contain the following:
- Protect the park while maintaining access to the trail. This is vital in preserving the historic trail without causing significant alterations to it or closing it down.
- The Solution must be fair and apply to all user groups equally. Not one particular group of visitors should be excluded or favored over the others.
- The solutions should be able to be implemented with current park resources or resources generated b the solution. New trails cannot be built to substitute Angels Landing.
- Prevent another trail from becoming the next Angels Landing with the same problems. An adequate solution to should help resolve the problem, not shift it to a different area within the park.
- Any solutions put into place should be supported by rigorous study. Evidence is needed to help put into place a plan that will actually address the crowding issues.
- Stay within the scope of the park. Outside groups cannot be forced to be a part of a plan, but new friendships and partnerships can be created to help improve everyone’s experience within the park.
- Input from park partners and other groups must be considered. Changes within the park affect stakeholders at local, state and national levels.
While good solutions exist, park officials stated that they take time to craft and implement and often end up being a compromise between all of the values listed.
Zion National Park is working towards a solution to the crowding at Angels Landing. A Comment Period for the Draft Visitor Use Management Plan will be open later int he year for those wishing to share their thoughts on the plan and issue. Preliminary information on the plan can be found and read here.