ST. GEORGE — Visitors are breaking records at Zion National Park, even during a pandemic.
Numbers soar in September
The park just reported record-high visitation numbers for the month of September. Numbers taken from the park's recreation visits by month webpage indicate that nearly 520,987 people visited the park last month.
Now for comparison, in September of last year, that number was below 500,000. The only other September above the 500,000 mark was in 2017. That was the same year that saw the highest yearly visitation, ending with a total of 4,504,912. The highest visitation ever recorded in a single month was July 2019 with 629,802 people entering the park.
On a slow rebound
Park officials say September brought about a nice rebound; March through August saw total visitation drop over the previous year. It's probably not that surprising, considering that in March the park closed many of its facilities, which included shuttles and entrance fee stations. The park remained open for people to drive through until April 3, when Gov. Gary Herbert announced Zion would close all operations immediately.
"I'm grateful to the Department of the Interior for recognizing the need to close Zion National Park as quickly as possible," Herbert said in a statement at the time. "Even with stay home orders and directives in place across the nation, Zion still continues to receive a high number of visitors each day, which greatly increases the risk of infection to communities near the park. We look forward to the day that this pandemic draws to a close and we can once again welcome the world to Utah's public lands."
Due to the shutdown, April saw only 40,396 visitors. A phased reopening began on May 13 and a reserved ticket system went into effect on July 1.
July, August and September all posted visitation above 400,000 per month.