Big Sur or Zion Next Week?

Mike Jones

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Feb 19, 2013
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147
Super last minute trip, also looking for suggestions. Looking to camp and do a bit of landscape photography, you can see my style in the link to my blog in my signature if interested.

I am officially transitioning out of the Marine Corps tomorrow and have some time off while I look for a new job, would love to to a mini photography trip this week!
 

regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
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Well, it's a great time of year to visit Zion. We usually find more of interest outside the main canyon, which feels like a zoo these days. So the east side, the Kolob area, etc.
 

BryanG

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Jul 22, 2016
Messages
67
This is also a great time for Big Sur. I am not sure how much rain they got this year but the wildflowers will sure be out in full force. You could check out Sykes hot springs (will probably be very busy) or further south check out soda springs TH to buckeye camp and down into some redwood canyons (you will also overlook the ocean on the first part of the trail). Plus, the drive on Hwy 1 is probably one of the best drives in the US. I went to UC Santa Barbara for undergrad and went up to Big Sur almost every spring.
 

LarryBoy

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Jan 4, 2015
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Zion is abdolute chaos this time of year. 2 hr wait times to get on the shuttle, even on weekdays. I'm squatting on blm land right now to get away from it.
 

regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
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Zion is abdolute chaos this time of year. 2 hr wait times to get on the shuttle, even on weekdays. I'm squatting on blm land right now to get away from it.
Seems like Zion and Springdale turned a corner sometime in the last couple years and it's a lot harder to enjoy now unless you just give a hard miss to the whole main canyon.
 

Dave

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The other option is to go in the off-season. There's almost always one unseasonably warm February weekend you can bank on.

Zion doesn’t really have an off-season any more. Visitation cap/canyon access permit is coming.
 

LarryBoy

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I've been here in January before and it's just a fraction of w hat it is in the warmer months.
 

Dave

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Yes, it is a fraction. But a fraction of 4.5 million is still a lot of people. Zion saw more visitors than Yellowstone, Glacier or Yosemite last year. It was ranked 3rd among parks by visitation.

3F834A14-8B4B-4A65-A7C7-CF89A88BA2B3.jpeg


In January of 2017, Zion visitation was about 90,000 people. As recently as 2013, that figure was closer to 60,000. January 2018 numbers aren’t available yet but with the mild weather, I wouldn’t be surprised to see visitation above 100,000.

Of course, July numbers are 5x more. The curve is flattening though. Zion’s off season now arguably consists of just December through February, excluding holiday weekends.

https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/management/upload/ZION-VISITATION-2007-2017-8.pdf
 

LarryBoy

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Great data Dave. The Smokies numbers are vastly inflated by the number of people who drive 441 through the park simply to get from point A to point B.

Other interesting trend is the decline in Yosemite visitation. I have no idea why that would be. Only thing I can think of is the late opening of Tioga Pass dissuaded people from going.
 

Dave

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Other interesting trend is the decline in Yosemite visitation. I have no idea why that would be. Only thing I can think of is the late opening of Tioga Pass dissuaded people from going.

That’s a good point. Some parks have such seasonable weather variability it’s hard to compare year over year.
 

Jammer

❤2Hike
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Feb 23, 2012
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641
Zion definitely has a major crowding issue. Think of those other parks and how much room there is to spread out. I'd love to see stats on visitation to specific areas within a park per day. My guess is that the main canyon in Zion would top the list for people per square mile. Sure -- there are other great spots in Zion, but the bulk of the visitation hits the main canyon.
 

regehr

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Mar 28, 2012
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Of course, July numbers are 5x more. The curve is flattening though. Zion’s off season now arguably consists of just December through February, excluding holiday weekends.

Awesome to see actual data, thanks!!
 

Pringles

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Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Messages
263
Thank you for your service.

Those numbers sure make it clear why, after going to school near Great Smoky Mountains NP, and spending lots of time there, I find that Yellowstone isn’t very crowded at all. I also stay away from Old Faithful. :—)
 
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