Concern about massive ‘glamping’ resort proposed near Zion National Park

  A sprawling network of camping resorts called Above Zion could soon begin unfolding in the Kolob highlands on Zion National Park’s northern boundary, potentially resulting in an influx of overnight use in a remote and scenic part of southern Utah.

Late last year, Ian Crowe, a St. George real estate broker, filed applications with Washington County officials to develop nearly 3,000 camping sites, including yurts, tents, vintage trailers, shipping containers, even treehouses, near Kolob Reservoir and the park’s Lava Point, about 25 miles up the winding Kolob Terrace Road from the town of Virgin.

But the project was largely kept under wraps until about a month ago, when a Kolob property owner saw a small notice posted by a road, announcing a hearing before the Washington County Planning Commission. The property owner in turn alerted the National Park Service and the Washington County Water Conservancy District to the project for the first time.

For about the past century, Kolob Mountain has been used mostly for ranching with about 270 seasonal homesites scattered around the juniper-covered draws above the famed Narrows of the Virgin River. At 8,000 feet in elevation, the Kolob area is snowbound in winter and inaccessible, but the summer population can reach as high as 800 on busy days.

Above Zion builds on the concept of “glamping,” which is catching on at private resorts near national parks and other protected lands where visitors can experience the area without relying on public resources.

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