17

Entrance fee per vehicle for Zion National Park is $30. But it is suggested/even mandatory to leave the car in Springdale and take the shuttle bus. As there are four of us, we would have to pay $15 per person to get in the park, instead of just $30. Am I missing something here?

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    Just a side note, its an amazing place! – BritishSam Aug 25 '16 at 15:05
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So, according to the National Parks Service:

Weekly Passes

Weekly passes are non-transferable and are valid for 7 consecutive days including the date of purchase. Weekly passes may be upgraded to annual passes within 7 days of purchase.

Private Vehicle: $30. Valid for 7 days. Admits private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants to Zion National Park, including both the Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyon areas.

Per Person: $15. Valid for 7 days. Admits one individual with no car to Zion National Park, including both the Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyon areas. Typically used for bicyclists, hikers and pedestrians. Youth 15 and under are admitted free.

So, no, you are correct in that for a car with 4 people, it would be considerably cheaper (half the price!) to take the car in. However:

Where To Park

Parking is limited inside Zion, and parking lots at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center commonly fill by mid-morning. To avoid parking hassles, park in the town of Springdale and ride the free town shuttle to the park. You can park anywhere along the road in town that does not have a parking restriction. To find the shuttle stops, look for the ''Shuttle Parking'' signs throughout town. If you are staying at a lodge or motel, simply leave your car there and take the shuttle to the park. Tune your radio to 1610 AM for additional information.

...

The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will close to traffic once all legal parking spaces are full

...

Parking is usually full by 10 am

So you'd have to aim for an early start, and be prepared for some hastle if you try to move your car later in the day, if you want to take your car in to the park. Note that if you do take the car in to the park, it is still possible to use the shuttle bus to get around (during shuttle bus season). So those are your options.

Alternative

The "America The Beautiful" annual pass costs 80USD, lasts for a year, covers every national park, monument etc in the US, and gives entrance to:

A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person)

So if you were looking at paying $60 total for entry on foot, and think even one of you might visit another national park, monument, forest or grassland, then it would be well worth considering.

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    That is what I thought. However, I am considering the annual NP pass for the four of us, it looks like if you enter the park without a vehicle, the pass is still good for 4 people, which would save us money even if we got into only 2 national parks. (It is 80$) – Sara Aug 25 '16 at 10:46
  • @sara haha - I just edited a mention of that in while you were writing the comment. I think it might well be the best choice for you. – CMaster Aug 25 '16 at 10:49
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I have no source to prove this, but from several personal experiences, here is what you can do:

  1. you enter by car and buy a pass for the car.
  2. Turn right around and park outside
  3. Use the shuttle to enter the park. Show the receipt and up to four people can get in on it.

That was also recommended by a ranger that we asked about it.

This is from the 2013 and 2015 summers, and things can always change.

As others mentioned, if you go see multiple parks, it is cheaper and easier to get the 80 $ annual pass. It is always good for four people, even in the shuttle. Note that two people can sign it and use it independently, also in a later vacation. I recommend you put only one signature on it right away, so you have the option of adding someone else later.

  • This is the kind of real experience I lacked. I did wonder if there was any leeway, but didn't want to suggest it. – CMaster Aug 25 '16 at 13:20
  • @CMaster But in your answer you quote that they actually close the traffic once its full. Having a read, it seams you don't reach the pay station at all ? – Иво Недев Aug 25 '16 at 14:44
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    They never close the traffic to the_park_ itself, as it is a connection road through the park. The close just the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (which is a dead end that branches off the main road), and all parking lots will be full. So after 10 am you can still enter the park, but then just drive straight through and out the other end. And you might have a 60 minute wait time at the gate. – Aganju Aug 25 '16 at 16:00
9

As a Utah native who loves Zions, has lived in Southern Utah and well, generally treats that area as his backyard I can't help but answer this.

Answer: We are at the end of the summer season and school in Utah has already started, if your planning to go in the next couple weeks unless you are going on a Saturday, Sunday, or Labor Day, the parking lots aren't going to be crazy. So ignore the shuttle and take your own car in and save 30 bucks.


Now, there are 2 other parks in the area, I recommend getting the Annual pass as others have mentioned. Bryce Canyon is amazing. Then you should take the shuttle cause it's nice and relaxing after spending all day in the park.

As a note, if your not planning on hiking up on the rim on somewhere in Kolob canyon, then the bottom of Zions is considerably lower in elevation then the surrounding area and it can and will get over 100' F even late into September. Also Zions is subject to flash floods that close attractions like The Narrows or The Subway and these tend to happen in the afternoon. So you should think about getting an early start even if you aren't going on a weekend/holiday.

All that in mind, I've never had a problem parking at the visitor center if I got there by 7:30 - 8:00 am (even in the summer).

Finally as a bonus tip about 20 miles north of the Springdale/Zions turnoff on I-15 there is a short (3.5 - 4ish miles) beautiful, red rock hike to a waterfall that's $10 bucks (self pay, be honest, they use the money to clean the trail) and avoids all the congestion in Zions if that's your type of thing.

  • @Fiksdal, it's suggested that you park in Springdale because during the height of the season parking late in the day is limited inside the Park. I was trying to illustrate the reality of the situation. I.E. as season wanes parking's not horrible, you can just drive in and pay for your car, or if you have any desire to see another park, get the pass. Or if your desire is to see X, here is a beautiful X that costs less, the locals recommend just outside the park. – Ryan Aug 25 '16 at 19:42
  • @Fiksdal, Zions is a very hot very dry canyon park that is subject to flash floods. Due to the heat and tendency for flash flooding in the most popular hikes/waterfalls (which happen to be in slot canyons), locals and those who do their research know that the best time to be in the park is early in the morning. Hence why the parking lots fill up so quickly. Now the situation isn't as bad as it's made out to be but like many places that rely on tourism certain recommendations can and do take advantage of the unawares to wring extra money out of them. The shuttle one would be one of them. cont. – Ryan Aug 25 '16 at 19:57
  • cont. In my post I try and lay out why you would want to start early (heat) that generally if you get there by X time you won't have an issue with parking any time of year, and that during this particular time of year parking isn't much of an issue any time of day, but heat still is. As parking is central to the price discussion (lack of parking is why they tell you to park in Springdale) I thought that sufficient to answer the question. – Ryan Aug 25 '16 at 20:00
  • @Fiksdal Not could, but should, unless it's Sat, Sun, or Labor day. – Ryan Aug 25 '16 at 20:03
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    Quite perfect +1. – Revetahw Aug 25 '16 at 20:18

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