More than 3.2 million people visit Zion National Park every year. The fourth most-visited national park in the nation has plenty of methods in place to reduce the impact of this number of guests. The Zion Canyon and Springdale Shuttle Systems help cut down on traffic and eliminate parking woes. Water bottle refill stations make it easier to top off your Nalgene rather than buying another disposable bottle. And an extensive recycling program makes it easy to properly toss your trash and help recyclables avoid the landfill.
But these initiatives are only effective if visitors do their part to join in. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint during your visit to Zion National Park, keep reading for a few simple ideas.
Pack Out What You Pack In
Whether you plan to do some hiking, enjoy a picnic in the park, go sightseeing, or enjoy any other adventures in Zion National Park, packing out your trash is one of the most important ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.
Everything that you pack in needs to go back out with you. This includes not just plastic and paper garbage, but food scraps as well.
Put Trash in its Place
Once you’ve packed your garbage off the trail, you can head to one of the park’s many receptacles. But don’t just toss it in the trash. It’s important to understand what items can be recycled and what can’t, so you can ensure that you’re recycling as much as possible.
Common items that can be recycled include:
- Plastic bottles
- Cardboard boxes
- Magazines and other paper
- Aluminum cans
- Tin cans
- Glass food containers
Items that cannot be recycled include:
- Plastic shopping bags
- Plastic wrap
- Styrofoam plates or cups
- Plastic utensils
- Soiled paper products, like food wrappers
Cut Back on Emissions
Even if you plan to spend most of your time hiking in Zion, it is still possible to cut down on emissions during your visit. Thanks to the Zion Canyon Shuttle, you can explore the park and access its most popular trails and overlooks without driving your vehicle around the park.
But you can also take this tip one step further by staying in Springdale at a hotel on the Springdale Shuttle Loop. That way you could leave your car at your hotel throughout your stay, and utilize the two shuttle systems to quickly and easily get around. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about finding parking! Cliffrose Lodge is conveniently located on the Springdale Shuttle Loop, making it easy to roll out of bed, hop on the shuttle, and get to the park without ever getting in your car.
Never Feed the Wildlife
Reducing your carbon impact means doing your part to protect Zion’s natural resources, including the animals that call the park home. The park is home to 78 species of mammals, 37 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 291 species of birds, including the endangered California Condor. Unfortunately, one bad habit many visitors practice is feeding the wildlife. From rock squirrels to mule deer, these seemingly passive animals are actually incredibly dangerous. Not feeding them will help keep you safe, and also protect these delicate creatures.
Not all wildlife feedings are intentional. Leaving food scraps or garbage behind attracts all kinds of wildlife. They may eat the food or trash, which can make them ill, or harm themselves on the packaging. In the same way as reaching out to feed a rock squirrel a bit of food builds dependence, leaving trash for animals to scavenge causes them to lose their ability to find for themselves.
Stay on the Trails
Another essential way to protect Zion’s delicate ecosystem is by staying on marked trails. Wandering even a few feet from a hiking trail can damage plant life and disturb animal life. While you may think that you taking just a few steps won’t do any damage, it can, and it can also lead to other visitors straying from the trail and causing even more damage.
Pack a Reusable Water Bottle
A water bottle is a must for every visit to the park. But don’t reach for a plastic throwaway. Every day in the U.S., more than 60 million plastic bottles are thrown in the garbage, eventually making their way to landfills, or getting lost along the way and winding up in our parks, waterways, and streets. Cutting down on this unnecessary waste starts with packing a reusable water bottle during your next hike. Zion provides plenty of water bottle refill stations where you can fill up during your visit.
If you’re planning a lengthier trip and don’t want to juggle several water bottles, consider trading them for a water bladder in a hydration pack. These small backpacks are designed to be comfortable and easy to wear, and won’t get in the way of your hike. Plus, they offer plenty of room for the other gear you’ll want to have along, like a first aid kit, extra layers of clothing, or snacks.