Zion National Park To Ban RVs From Popular Entrance

Posted by
Heather Balogh Rochfort
June 10, 2024

The Narrows, Zion

If you’re heading to Zion National Park for a hiking trip but plan on camping in your RV or trailer, think again. Just a few days ago, the park announced that they will begin banning all oversized vehicles from the popular east entrance beginning in 2026.

Zion and Big Vehicles: Here’s the Deal

In recent years, Zion National Park has blown up in popularity with nearly 5 million visitors in 2022, making it the third most popular national park in the country. It’s easy to understand why since this southern Utah park boasts amazing hiking, epic backpacking trips, and nationally-known treks like hiking The Narrows or Angel’s Landing. But there are downsides to being in demand — like heavy traffic and congestion.

While the main entrance (also known as the south entrance) is easily the most popular route into the park, the east entrance gets it’s fair share of traffic too. The east entrance uses the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, a historic roadway built in the 1920s and 1930s that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And, the highway passes through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel, a historical landmark that was designed more than 100 years ago.

All of that is great — but cars were a lot smaller back then. Today, Zion is swamped with campers in trailers and busses and RVs and those cars don’t fit quite as easily. And, according to the NPS statement, RVs and other large vehicles cross the highway at 18 different turns. It’s a recipe for disaster as the park continues to grow in popularity.

Which Vehicles Are Allowed?

The park was very specific on which vehicles would and would not be allowed to pass through the east entrance. Any vehicles taller than 11 feet 4 inches and wider than 7 feet 10 inches will have to drive ’round and use the west entrance. This alone is a big request since that tacks on an additional 40 minutes of driving. But park officials think it’s for the best. 

“Our goal is to protect drivers, meet modern safety standards and ensure the integrity of the road and tunnels so that we continue to enjoy scenic drives on the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park Superintendent in a statement. 

But here’s the real question: as national park attendance continues to creep higher and reservation and permit systems become the norm, will other parks follow suit? Only time will tell.n

Seen in: National Parks, News, Zion National Park

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