OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Plan trips to Utah national parks in advance, say tourism officials

Nov 8, 2021, 3:43 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm

utah tourism arches national park cameras...

FILE: Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Photo credit: Getty Images

Gone are the days where you can plan a spontaneous visit to any one of the five Utah national parks. Due to the pandemic, all five national parks in the Beehive State are experiencing a major tourist boost. At the date of publication, campsites at Zion National Park were 97% occupied, with Capitol Reef campsites at 95% capacity, followed by campsites at Arches at 94%.

Does this mean an end to last-minute weekend trip to the parks?

KSL NewsRadio host Dave Noriega and guest host Mara Carabello invited Vicki Varella, managing director for the Utah Office of Tourism, onto the Dave and Dujanovic show on Nov. 3rd to find out. 

One major factor: People love Utah national parks 

“I take both blame and credit,” Varella said. “Through Covid, more and more people wanted to get out and enjoy Utah’s spectacular spaces.” 

What can Utahns expect for the upcoming year?  

“Plan ahead,” Varella said. Those who want to camp or travel to Utah’s national parks should be planning for at least 6 months in advance in order to take advantage of park facilities and the beauty that these parks have to offer. 

International and out-of-state visitors aren’t the only ones exploring the park. Many of the surge of visitors are Utahans who have never had explored their own backyard. 


Keeping visitors and wildlife safe at national parks

Renewed call for reservations to enter Arches National Park

Heart of Utah: Archery, Bigfoot, Dinosaurs and Yurts — Utah State Parks becoming crown jewels


Looking ahead, Varella wants visitors to explore the landscapes but to also be prepared and have a better understanding as to proper protocols in the parks. 

“We are most focused on travelers being prepared and to have an understanding of our complex desert environment. To show personal responsibility to keep these beautiful places forever mighty.”

This includes visitors not vandalizing the historic wonders like petroglyphs, to stay on trails, and to be more responsible with the disposal of human waste. 

Is this the new normal?

That’s a question that Utah officials can’t answer just yet, Varella said. Utahns and other visitors may start to travel more internationally. But a post-COVID world is still a long way away. 

“All we can do is to make sure we are attracting the right visitors, and that they are well prepared for creating a perpetual visitor economy.”

To listen to more of the conversation, and to download other episodes of Dave & Dujanovic, please visit this link. 

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Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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Plan trips to Utah national parks in advance, say tourism officials