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What Zions National Park Could Teach Us About Mountain Accord

As many people know, Mountain Accord has proposed rail up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

I received an email from a Friend of the Park Rag about Zions National Park . The person makes the case that Zions has over 3 million visitors per year and does it all with Buses (and not rail). Visitors are not allowed to drive in most of the park.

I wonder why this idea hasn’t been proposed in Little Cottonwood Canyon as part of Mountain Accord? OK, I’m pretty sure I know why … but if our true goal is preserving the Wasatch, wouldn’t a fleet of natural gas buses be a lot more eco-friendly than electric trains powered by coal power plants, while still allowing cars to go up the canyon?

Here is the email:

Hey Park Rag,

According to the Zion National Park website:

“In 1997, visitation was 2.4 million and increasing. The shuttle system was established to eliminate traffic and parking problems, protect vegetation, and restore tranquility to Zion Canyon.”

“Visitation more than doubled between 1982 and 2002, from 1.25 million to 2.59 million. Backcountry use has risen even more quickly: from 7,807 people camping in the backcountry in 1986 to 21,002 in 1999.”

“In 2004, nearly 2.7 million people visited Zion.” 

“In 2014 approximately 3,211,596 people visited Zion NP.”

That’s with shuttles, no trains🙂

I looked up the stats on number of people going up Little Cottonwood Canyon each year and as of 2012, UDOT estimates about 2 million cars per year travel the canyon. If you go with the average of about 1.8 persons per car, that’s 3.6 million people per year. If Zions can do it, and frankly Little Cottonwood Canyon’s roads aren’t too different that Zions, I don’t see why this isn’t contender #1 for the solution.

Why do I say that? Mostly because it won’t cost $3 billion and it’s been proven to work in Utah.


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