Because of road construction, Utah transportation officials are taking the unusual step of discouraging visits to Zion National Park during the upcoming Presidents Day weekend — and are urging people to go at a less crowded time.

“Limited parking and roadway congestion are always issues in Zion Canyon during holiday weekends, and Presidents Day weekend is no exception,” Springdale Mayor Stanley J. Smith said. “If visitors are coming to Zion for the holiday, we want them to understand the situation before they arrive.”

Adding to difficulties is construction on State Route 9 through Zion that currently includes one-way traffic, flagging and traffic stoppages leading into and out of the park’s south entrance.

UDOT planned that project to avoid the park’s summer peak season, and construction is scheduled to continue through mid-April. Recent high-visitation weekends generated traffic stoppages of 90 minutes or longer as a mass of automobiles travel through Springdale on the way to the park.

“We know that this is an extremely popular area to visit. That’s why it’s so important we get this project done,” UDOT Project Manager Chris Hall said.

“If you can’t shift your travel to lower-volume dates, plan ahead and know that traffic is expected to back up at several locations in the town and when entering and exiting the park,” Hall said.

Officials warn that parking is extremely limited. Visitors choosing to walk from Springdale may need to walk up to 3 miles to reach the pedestrian entrance to Zion National Park in Zion Canyon Village.

To facilitate visitor access, Zion National Park will resume weekend-only in-park shuttle service on Saturday, Feb. 17, and has opened additional parking for early arrivals. Some additional overflow parking is available in Springdale.

“With the delays and scarcity of parking, we ask for everyone’s patience and attention to safety whether a driver, passenger or pedestrian,” said Zion Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.