In recent years, Zion National Park has been shattering records when it comes to the number of visitors at the park. In 2016 alone, Zion welcomed four million guests. While it is great news that so many people are taking an interest in getting outdoors and enjoying mother nature, there are some serious downsides to having so many people flock to the park each year.

The increase in visitors has led to some very unfortunate things happening in the park. Specifically, the sheer number of people in the park is leading to the landscape experiencing a lot more wear and tear than it normally would. For example, when trails get crowded, visitors will branch out into unmarked areas of the landscape, creating their own trails. This leads to the destruction of the natural beauty of the park and damages the very fragile ecosystem.

In addition to harming the fragile ecosystem of the park, visitors are not able to have an authentic natural experience with such large crowds. Having to wait in line for hours to get into the park, explore the trails, and enjoy the landscape feels more like a frustrating amusement park than an outdoor getaway. These long wait times can also lead to visitors waiting an entire day to see the best of Zion, which means they will miss out on many other great experiences in the park.

Perhaps worse than the wait times is the overcrowding on the Zion trails. As people try to push their way onto the trails, the whole experience is greatly diminished. What should be a leisurely vacation turns into guests rushing around and trying to beat the crowds. This doesn’t allow visitors to have the enjoyable experience that parks were set up to provide.

Park officials are well aware that something must be done. A spokesman for Zion, John Marciano, stated that “In the last few years, this huge uptick in visitation has overwhelmed our infrastructure facilities, our trails, our backcountry, it goes on and on and on. We can’t sit on our hands anymore. We have to come up with some kind of management plan to be able to preserve resources and to make sure our visitors have a good and safe experience.”

To combat the negative effects these large crowds are having on Zion National Park, officials are looking into options to reduce the number of people traveling to the park each year. One of the solutions being considered is employing a reservation system for visitors. This system would allow park officials to decrease the number of visitors without raising admission prices or fees. Though this system is just one of the many options being considered, it seems to be the most viable way to protect Zion National Park.

While some visitors may be angered by putting a reservation system in place, the truth is it would be beneficial to everyone. Though the wait to be able to visit the park maybe longer, the experience will be so much better. Guests won’t have to fight crowds, wait in long lines, or feel as though they have been robbed of the quintessential park experience. Sure, visitors will have to wait for their chance to see the beauty of Zion, but as they say, good things come to those who wait and Zion National Park is surely a good thing worth waiting for.

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