16 Aug Driving Tips for Zion National Park
Hiking is perhaps the most popular activity you can enjoy in any national park. And while it is a must for any visit to Zion, it’s far from the only way to experience the park’s natural beauty. There are few things more thrilling than zipping through the canyon with the wind rushing past you. While you could certainly do so in your personal car, a Slingshot means enjoying the open air and nothing standing in your way of stunning views.
But before you climb behind the wheel of any vehicle and take off on the twisting, winding roads of Zion Canyon, there are a few simple tips, laws, and tricks you should know. Keep reading to learn more.
The Speed Limit is Lower Than You Think
If you visit Zion in the summer and head to the most-visited areas, including around the visitor center or near the Zion Canyon Loop, you won’t likely worry too much about the speed limit. Between lines of cars and crowds of tourists, you won’t be getting much speed anyway.
But get out of the heavily-populated areas and the roads will open up. There, it can feel like you’re hundreds of miles from civilization–and its rules. You might be tempted to step on the gas and take off. Think twice before you do.
Most of Zion has a speed limit of just 35 miles per hour. In some areas, it’s even lower. If a higher speed limit is posted, you can, of course, go that speed. But for the most part, keep in mind that the speed limit is likely low. This is to help prevent collisions with pedestrians and wildlife, and keep drivers safe on dangerous roads. If you want to go faster than 35 miles per hour, you’ll need to head out of the park and look for roads where the limit is 55, 65, or higher. Nothing will put an end to your Slingshot rental fun faster than a speeding ticket.
Tourists are Everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
Over this year’s Fourth of July weekend, more than 25,000 visitors entered the park each day of the three-day holiday. Zion is one of the most popular national parks in the nation, coming in fourth place, just behind the Great Smoky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s also one of the smallest, covering just over 200 square miles.
Despite being just a fraction of the size of other popular parks, there’s still plenty of room in Zion for everyone to spread out. The problem is that they largely don’t. Most visitors end up in just a small area, visiting the most popular landmarks, like Angels Landing and The Narrows. This leads to crowding on trails and roadways.
For motorists, the most important thing you can do is assume that there are tourists everywhere. Whether you’re backing out of a parking space, crossing a parking lot, or just driving through the park, be on the lookout for people walking. Slow down, take your time, and always double and triple check your mirrors.
When You Stop, Turn the Car Off
Our national parks are designed to protect some of the nation’s most valuable and breathtaking natural resources. But with thousands of visitors entering national parks across the nation every day, we are also leaving behind a large carbon footprint.
There are plenty of things you can do during your visit to Zion to reduce the impact that you have. Picking up trash, staying on marked trails, and never feeding wildlife are all important. So is not idling.
Idling, or leaving your car running when its in park, is terrible for the environment. It burns fuel, releases carbon dioxide, and releases pollutants into the air. It’s a common myth that it burns more fuel to restart your car than it does to leave it idling. If you’re going to be stopped for longer than 10 seconds, turn your car off.
Turning off your car for just 10 minutes that you would have otherwise left it running will help you keep one entire pound of carbon dioxide from entering the air. If you’re driving your own personal car, avoiding idling will also help keep it running longer.
Don’t Ride the Brakes Downhill
Another common practice that’s terrible for your vehicle, not to mention potentially dangerous, is riding your brakes when driving downhill. Over time, riding your brakes as you drive downhill will cause them to wear-out faster. It can also damage rotors, caliper seals, and dust boots. When you’re renting a car or Slingshot, you might not think much about these long term threats. But you should think about the short term ones.
Riding your brakes causes them to overheat. If they overheat too much, your brake fluid may actually boil. This causes gas bubbles to form in the brake fluid. The gas is then compressed, which can cause your brakes to actually fail. You may be pressing down on your brakes, but nothing will happen.
Instead, it’s better to “pump” your brakes as you drive downhill. You can also shift to a lower gear and let your engine do some of the braking for you.
Driving Safe in and Around Zion National Park
Whether you choose to hit the road in your personal car or a sleek Slingshot, driving safe in and around Zion National Park will not only keep you safe, but also ensure that your vacation doesn’t come to a quick and disappointing end. If you do decide to see the park in a more exciting way, check out these other tips for renting a Slingshot.