68-year-old man dies after medical issue on lower West Rim Trail in Zion National Park

Zion National Park's West Rim Trail. Photo: National Park Service

SPRINGDALE, Utah, May 15, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — A 68-year-old hiker from Germany died after suffering a medical issue on the lower West Rim Trail in Zion National Park on Tuesday.

Aly Baltrus, Zion National Park spokeswoman, told Gephardt Daily limited information is available at this early stage, and it’s not clear what the medical issue was.

The name of the deceased man is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The West Rim Trail begins at the West Rim Trailhead near Lava Point and from top-down is an 18-mile hike ending with the Grotto in Zion Canyon.

Zion National Park also issued a press release Wednesday warning visitors that Memorial Day Weekend is the park’s busiest weekend.

“Visitors should come prepared, both for crowded conditions, and for the activities they are planning,” said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “With a great many people visiting, please show additional patience with others and respectful trail etiquette. And remember that safety is your responsibility, so please avoid unsafe behaviors and risk-taking. Multiple emergencies are common during busy periods, stretching the availability of search and rescue, emergency medical and fire-fighting capabilities.”

Last year over 86,000 people visited over the four-day holiday weekend, the press release said. “While the park is extending facility hours and increasing staff, visitors should expect crowded conditions and long lines,” the press release states. “Parking typically fills by 9 a.m., so visitors entering later should plan on parking in Springdale and walking or taking the free town shuttle to the River Entrance walk-in gate.”

Visitors who can be flexible with their schedule are encouraged to visit Friday or Monday rather than Saturday or Sunday, as well as consider arriving early or starting their visit after 3 p.m. to avoid the greatest crowding.

This year park staff will also be managing the queue that forms at Scout Lookout for visitors wanting to hike Angels Landing. Last year during the Memorial Day weekend, the line on Scout Lookout was one to two hours long, with many reports of visitors running out of water and feeling that the trail was too crowded, raising safety concerns, the press release said.

In 2019, due to storm damage and high water, closure of many other Zion Canyon trails is expected to exacerbate the congestion at Angels Landing. By moving the line to the West Rim trailhead at the Grotto, visitors will be able to use the water bottle refilling tap, flush toilets and extra port-a-johns the park has put there, prior to starting their hike to Scout Lookout and Angels Landing.


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