Parks are for Everyone: Finding Our Way Through New Trail Data

Project Need: $42,000

There’s a new trailblazer in the park. It’s not a person but a marvel of technology known as the  Wheeled Instrumentation Sensor Package (WISP). WISP is the latest addition to the High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP) initiative. More than just a tool, it’s a game-changer in understanding our trails. This marvel piece of equipment will provide a wealth of data by precisely measuring Zion’s trails’ gradients, substrates, conditions, and slopes. The data collected will allow the park to provide meaningful updates to visitors, websites, and apps and inform trailhead and wayside signs to empower visitors to make informed decisions about their recreation opportunities in the field.

Zion’s initiative builds on those of Bryce Canyon National Park and others who have used HETAP to standardize trail descriptions so that visitors can better understand what to expect on their visits, making trails more enjoyable and more accessible. It is our turn to bring this new technology to Zion’s iconic trails.

The project, expected to take six months, will be led by a dedicated staff member whose expertise will bridge the gap between raw data and actionable information. The eventual result will see standardized trail ratings like Easy, Moderate, and Strenuous to match those of parks throughout the region, updated with elevation charts and weather-specific conditions. 

Jonathan Shafer, the project lead and park Public Information Officer, shares his excitement: “Parks are for everyone, and we want to help visitors make informed decisions about how they can experience this place in a way that is best for them. What we learn from this project will empower visitors to explore Zion in the ways that are best suited to their individual needs.”

Funding WISP and the HETAP initiative is not just modernizing Zion; it enhances every visitor’s experience, ensuring that Zion can be explored confidently by all who step foot here. The importance of this initiative is such that your donations will be matched by the National Park Service 2024 Challenge Cost-share grant program.

We are not just funding new trail data. We are building a legacy of access and enjoyment and unlocking Zion’s next chapter now and into the future. Zion is, and will continue to be, a place for everyone.