Learn About Zion National Park in Utah

Zion National Park in Utah is one of America’s treasures. It is considered one of the most visited national parks in the country. Here, you can find the largest flying bird in North America, enjoy the best hikes, and see the biggest natural arches in the country.

Zion National Park continues to attract visitors from different corners of the country and the world. There are plenty of reasons why people troop to Zion National Park. Aside from the people’s natural curiosity to explore new places, people also flock to Zion National Park because it is simply captivating and mesmerizing!

Established in 1919, Zion National Park has a size of 146,597 acres. Yearly, the visitors reached some 4.5 million. Its visitor center is Zion Canyon. You need to pay $30 per vehicle entrance. 

Navajo Sandstone

Zion National Park is a “red-rock wonderland” created by time, snow, wind, and water. The Mormon pioneers, who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, arrived in the area during the 1860s.

 As the beauty of the place enthralled them, they called it the City of Jerusalem, based on the Bible’s Old Testament. There are around 800 native plant species in the park and its surrounding area. It is home to more floral species than anywhere else you can find in Utah.

Towers of the Virgin: The Sundial (left), The Witch Head, Broken Tooth, Rotten Tooth, Altar of Sacrifice

At least 80 percent of the Zion National Park is considered wilderness. One step into the park will take you back in time in terms of the rich vegetation and natural beauty of the place.

The off-beaten road escapades at the park are a perfect option during summer. Even a few steps inside the park can already take your imagination far on what awaits on the horizon. Zion National Park revolves around Zion Canyon, some 15 miles stretch and around 3,000 feet deep.

 The ecosystem ranges from high forests, plateaus, landscapes, rugged terrains, red-rock desert, and, yes, the canyon.

 Springdale, an old riverside town, is known as the primary gateway to the park. While Highway 9, also identified as the “main drag”, is surrounded by shops, hotels, galleries, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and other tour offices that will arrange travel adventures around Zion National Park.

 You can find different options for your holiday getaway at the park, from rappelling, 4×4 off-road trips, rock climbing, glamping, chopper rides, guided tour, and even tubing at the Virgin River of the park.

Court of the Patriarchs, by Ansel Adams (1933)

 Travel writers Lori Cuthbert and Joe Yogerst, of National Geographic also identified the Zion National Park Forever Project as the official non-profit organization that partners with the park. This organization regularly hosts outdoor adventures, lectures, field classes, and learning adventures about the park.

The park’s Visitor Center is also an ideal place to start the park’s information. The Zion National Park Shuttle is the only way to arrive at the center of the park’s canyon areas. Interestingly, if you are driving in a private vehicle, you will be prohibited from going beyond Canyon Junction.

In case you are not heading towards the south-central part of Utah, there is a detour that would take you to Checkerboard Mesa, dubbed the “world’s longest auto tunnel to a geological oddity.”

When you are on your way to the park, the ideal destination to start with is to visit the Zion Human History Museum. This museum will open your heart and mind to the life and works of the area’s Mormon and Native American pioneers. Take note that your shuttle will have seven stops when entering the canyon.

Kayenta Formation

During your stops, you will have the opportunity to marvel at the fantastic stone formations, like the Weeping Rock, Court of the Patriarchs, and the famous Zion Lodge, which was opened in 1927 and designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood.

The 1,500-foot rock face, the Great White Throne, is the top landmark along the canyon area. You can also experience nature’s drama at the natural amphitheater called the Temple of Sinawava.

A riverside road will lead you to the Narrows, where you can find many high-altitude canyon walls during your hiking adventures.

 You can take a hike along the Narrows up to the Big Springs. However, if you go farther in the area, you must get a backcountry permit to continue your adventure. There is a chance that you will get wet along your experience as waist-high water bodies are found in the park.

The Altar of Sacrifice (center) with reddish, blood-like streaks

Some popular sites at the Zion National Park

1. Angels Landing Trail  

This is where you get the best vista and walkways for your adventure.

2. The Watchman Trail

Home of wildflowers and a perfect destination for hikers.

3. Walter’s Wiggle

This is the place that will bring you to the Scout Lookout.

Desert bighorn sheep are often visible near the roadway in the park

4. East and West Temples

Here you will be mesmerized by the natural charm of the environment after erosion and weather.

5. North Creek 

This is where you will discover the Subway, for those who are into muddy and wet terrain adventure.

The Three Patriarchs in Zion Canyon are made of Navajo Sandstone

Some interesting facts about Zion National Park

1. There is a “subway” in Zion National Park 

An arduous 9-mile round-trip trek time along the left fork of North Creek gives you the impression of walking on a subway in the park. However, you need to secure a permit and orientation skills before you are allowed to trek in this area.

2. The word “Zion” is traced back to the ancient Hebrew language, which means refuge or sanctuary

The Mormon pioneers, who became the first Anglo-European people who arrived in the area in the late 1800s, called the place “Zion” from Biblical times, which means sanctuary.

The Subway, a slot canyon within the Kolob Terrace section

3. Zion National Park is home to an ancient civilization

The sandstone villages and other works of arts painted on rocks will bring you back to the time when the Anasazi became the first people who settled in Zion Canyon about 1,500 B.C.

4. Zion National Park was previously called by different names

The Zion National Park was previously identified as the Mukuntuweap National Monument and Zion. 

The Kolob Canyons are a set of finger canyons cut into the Kolob Plateau. Timber Top Mountain to right

5. The passing of time carved the Zion Canyon into what is today

For more than millions of years, the Zion Canyon was formed by the Virgin River, which is about 2,000 feet deep. 

The Narrows, or the floor areas of the canyon, allows hikers to have the best of their “walking times” around the place.

Zion Lodge accommodations

6. The best time to visit Zion National Park is during spring and fall

Zion National Park can get as cold as -20°F. Thus, the ideal time to visit the park is during spring and fall to have the most moderate weather. 

During July and September, rainstorms are frequent in the park. The month of March has the most rainfall.

7. Zion National Park is home to 79 different mammals

Life is varied in the park due to its different terrain, elevation, and land features.

Accordingly, you can find 79 mammals, 8 species of fish, 32 species of reptiles/amphibians, and 289 species of birds in the park.

Some of the rare animals to find in the park are the Mojave Desert Tortoise, Mexican Spotted Owl, and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, among others.

Zion shuttle bus stops are marked with numbers

8. Endangered California Condor can be seen in the Zion National Park

The California Condor, an endangered and largest flying bird in North America, can be found in the wilderness areas of the Zion National Park.

These giant birds have a wingspan of 10 feet, can fly as fast as 55 mph and reach 15,000 feet high during their flight.

Travel writer Catherine Atton, of the Real World (Trafalgar), recalled that lead poisoning was the culprit why the California Condor was listed as endangered specie. “Condors were accidentally ingesting fragments of lead-based ammunition as they scavenged on carcasses of hunted animals,” Atton wrote.

Hurricane Cliffs/Kaibab Limestone

9. Angels Landing viewpoint is dubbed as one of the “world’s most scariest views”

The Angels Landing in the park is one of the world’s most dangerous views. It is 1,488 feet above the Virgin River. Despite its moniker, visitors at the Angels Landing will experience the 360-degree views 1,500 feet above the canyon floor area.

10. Kolob Arch is one of the biggest freestanding natural arches in the world found in the park

The Kolob Arch, at 287 feet long, is known as one of the world’s largest arches. You will see this nature’s wonder at the National Park’s Kolob Canyons District.