Just surprised my wife with a V-day trip to Zion (from Alaska). No ultras were run, but it was a lovely trip. The Scenic Drive was very busy and all parking areas were overflowing, but (1) it the end of the non-shuttle season as visitation ramps up, (2) it was a three-day weekend and a lot of college students were traveling as large groups, and (3) it was the no-admission-fee weekend for the NPS. it was easy to see why they require shuttle use in the Spring through Fall. Anyway, I saw a few logistical items from the training thread I could answer:
"it seems we will just miss being able to drive private vehicles to the Grotto to pick up those who may stop there (spring 2014 schedule not out yet)." -Art Jan 27. What I saw in the Spring version of their newspaper handout is March 31 is the last day for private vehicles. We stayed at the Zion Lodge and they said once shuttle-only access starts, Lodge guests are given a red pass that lets them drive up to the Lodge (one mile short of The Grotto). So if anyone were staying at The Lodge, that would almost help. But what you'd really like is a sag wagon AT The Grotto, not a mile down the road. You'd probably need a Handicap sticker to do that. Maybe a non-runner could hand at The Grotto with checklist of runners, some hot drinks and warm coats?
"does anyone know how much time it takes to drive from the East end (potential camp) to the road junction inside the park on the scenic road. time is more relevant here than miles."
We did the reverse on Saturday - The Lodge on the Scenic Drive to the Taylor creek Trailhead on Kolob Canyon Road (one mile down the road from the Lee Pass Trailhead). I didn't time it but would estimate it at 60 +/-5 minutes in light traffic. April is little more towards peak, but it wouldn't be a 3-day weekend like we had.
"it's roughly 45 miles from Watchman to Lee's Pass trailhead, probably an hour drive"
I get 41 miles, and, yeah, right about an hour in shuttle van.
With AT&T as a carrier, we had no service along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (the road to The Grotto) but had decent reception from Angel's Landing on the rim. The Lodge had wifi but for guests only. Tough terrain for radio use.
I'll be back in Zion, certainly the Scenic Drive Portion, maybe more of the Park in mid-March. Let me know if there's any thing I can do or check for you guys. Seems too early to lay in water caches, but I'd be game to do so.
Edited to respond to: "I can carry the keys for the final car."
I'm a big fan of leaving keys on the car (if you need to use my RAV4 at an Alaskan trailhead, the keys are in at the bottom of the coil spring at the LF wheel (closest to the driver)). You can't see a key there unless you are really looking, but it is easy to pull out and even to find in the dark. Everyone has to remember to not drive away without Craig, but if he bails at the Grotto or any number of other outcomes; someone else might need to move that car. Someone might just want to get into the car to stay warm or cool or get it comfortable for Sweeper Craig's arrival. Tape a note to the steering wheel: "Sweeper's Car. Remember to bring Craig back with you."