For example, will there be long lines for shuttle bus?
Yes!! I’m here now, and the free parking lot fills by 8am, and the shuttle lines around 8-9am have a 15 minute wait. (We walk in early to avoid lines.) The shuttle lines throughout the day aren’t bad, we never had to wait for a second shuttle. I talked to several shuttle drivers, and all said now is “slow”....lots of graduations and end of school year activities. They expect to be packed Memorial Day weekend, and throughout the summer. One said “ it’s crazy town!”.
Hope you are staying in Springdale to avoid the parking issues, as you can shuttle or walk in to the park. Start each day EARLY, and have everything you will need with you, including mid day snacks, lunch, water. (There are refill stations in the park.) Cool off at your hotel in the afternoon, and then go back in to the park early evening, after the day trippers and busses leave.Edited: 18 May 2018, 21:41
Better yet is to get a room at the Zion Lodge. We will be visiting for "leaf peeping" this autumn in October and expect the park to be crowded. We have little concern as we will be able to drive ourselves up Zion Canyon Scenic Drive as we will be waved in by the park rangers at the entrance because we will be displaying in our rental car a Registered Zion Lodge GUEST permit. Once at the Lodge we can walk to the Emerald Pool Trails and picnic at the Grotto. We will eat at the Zion Lodge Red Rock Grill with the view of the canyon outside the large windows. At night and in the morning, before the "day trippers" arrive and after the last shuttle for the day, we will have the park to ourselves except for the other guests at the lodge. At night, if the weather permits, I plan to do a star trail over the canyon walls looking towards Polaris (the North star). Check for reservations to the lodge here:
As a lodge guest you can drive to the lodge, but no further.
Correct, but any shuttle ride to say the "Weeping Rock" or "Temple of Sinawava" is short from the Zion Lodge and you have all of the advantages I listed in my post. Best being not having to wait in the Visitor Parking lot and/or have to also take Springdale shuttle to the entrance shuttle packed anywhere you go in a shuttle just to get into the park! Plus, you have to pack every thing with you and the hassle of everyone leaving at the end of the day once again packed in a shuttle bus.Edited: 18 May 2018, 22:36
The best way to avoid crowds and shuttle lines is to get up very early and go to the park. We stayed in Springdale and had no problems because we took the shuttle into the park by 7am. By afternoon the entire park is hot and crowded, so its a good time to leave, go out for a late lunch, and go to the pool and relax. Just bring snacks and water for the morning/day.
Zion is hugely popular. You can not always predict how crowded the shuttle lines will be for a given popular time of the day to either enter or exit the park. As you say "By afternoon the entire park is hot and crowded"; it would be easier to simply go to your air conditioned room in the park at the Lodge than to have to exit the park, get your car and drive to your off site lodging. By far the best way is to simply stay at the Lodge. Plus, as I indicated in post 3 - you are in the park first of the morning and late at night after all of the day trippers are "shuttled" out of the park so the evening can be enjoyed without the crowds.
According the the park's website the average daily visitor count for July last year was 578,209 people. In a park that size that is busy, busy. Look at the park's website for ideas on how to make the most of your visit - https:/…traffic.htm There are other parts of the park besides Zion Canyon that you can drive. And did you know you can ride your bicycle through Zion Canyon? You can rent bikes at the lodge in the park. You can also eat at the lodge even if you aren't staying there.
It's not unusual to hear of 45 minutes to over an hour wait to get on a shuttle. They are hop on hop off inside the park so even if you stay inside the park and want to do some of the hikes then you will need to share the ride with the others who enter during the day. There are many stops beyond the hotel.
Since I have been twice and seen it become overwhelmingly busy I have chosen not to make a return trip. I also think there are places near where I live in CO that are as good or better without the crowds (thanks to no advertising). Utah has done a magnificent advertising job on their 5 national parks and they are all so busy that they are not so alluring to me.
“Too busy” is subjective. “Busy” is accurate.
Thank you all for your kind advice!