A popular hiking trail at Zion National Park in Utah was temporarily shut down this week so helicopters could evacuate 16,000 lbs. of human waste.
Several years ago, park managers installed two secluded outhouses at a pivotal point along the Angel’s Landing Trail. The “bathrooms” really have no business being in such a remote area, but the trail is extremely popular and managers felt hikers needed a place to “answer natures call” at the Scout Lookout point of the trail.
Twice this week, park officials closed the trail for a few hours so helicopters could methodically fly out 32 barrels of human waste. It’s estimated that each barrel weighs about 500 lbs.
“This is a bad spot for a toilet, but if we took them out there would be poop behind every bush,” park geologist Dave Sharrow told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We encourage people to use the toilet at the Grotto Trailhead.”
The draw of Angels Landing
Angels Landing offers some of the most stunning views on Earth. It’s a 5 mile round trip trail which begins relatively tame – while steep, it’s paved first two miles and very well maintained.
It’s the last unpaved half mile of Angels Landing that attracts hikers from all over the world and makes it one of the busiest trails in the Southwest.
To avoid falling from sheer cliffs, hikers grip tightly on to heavy-duty chains anchored into the mountain fin. The trail drops 1200 feet on one side and 800 feet on the other.
The bathrooms at Scouts Lookout are just before the dramatic trek, making Scouts Lookout a popular place for lunch and a place where those afraid of heights often stay back while the rest of their party completes the trail.
Not the first time
Zion outranks Yellowstone in visitors
Zion National Park sees about 4 million visitors a year and now ranks fifth on the list of the most visited national parks. Zion is right behind the Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the Rocky Mountains. In recent years Zion moved one spot higher than Yellowstone.
Zion has become so busy that traffic has periodically backed into neighboring Springdale. The traffic jams have forced officials to rush vehicles through the toll gate, foregoing the revenue that comes with the $30-per-vehicle charge.