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Officials hope to mitigate traffic issues at Utah's national parks over holiday weekend

By Alex Cabrero  |  Posted May 26th, 2016 @ 10:24pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Large crowds visiting Utah's national parks have created traffic issues at many of the park's entrances.

"It has become a dangerous situation for folks,” said Kevin Kitchen, a Utah Department of Transportation spokesman.

Kitchen is talking about the danger last year at the entrance to Arches National Park.

Thousands of people visited Arches last Memorial Day weekend, causing hundreds of cars lined up at the entrance to spill onto Highway 191.

The entrance to the park was closed to alleviate safety concerns.

"That is a high-speed road as you're leaving Moab. People are trying to go north to I-70 and get to their destinations,” Kitchen said.

This year, there’s a plan.

“The Park Service has come to us and requested to use our northbound traffic lane to extend their right turn lane into the park,” Kitchen said. “This will help keep the cars back hopefully with less conflict on the highway itself.”

Of course, it's not just Arches seeing traffic concerns.

Zion National Park is now fully staffed for the holiday weekend, traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year.

"Memorial Day really kicks off our summer season,” said Aly Baltrus, a spokeswoman with Zion National Park. "Last year, we had 71,000 people coming to Zion on the weekend.”

Zion has a mandatory shuttle system in place for visitors coming into the park.

Park managers are also asking visitors to get into the park early in the morning or after 2pm to help alleviate peak visitation times.

"We're asking people to also be prepared, not only for the trails they're trying, but also for the crowds,” Baltrus said.

UDOT managers suggest downloading their traffic app, where you can see live video from traffic cameras in areas all across the state.

“Know before you go,” Kitchen said.

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