Established in 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument, the area expanded to be known Zion National Park in 1919.
The name Zion is a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety or refuge, given to this canyon by Mormon pioneers settling southern Utah in the 1860s. Zion features stunning scenery found nowhere else on earth.
A geologic showpiece with sandstone cliffs among the highest in the world, Zion features one of the last mostly free-flowing river systems on the Colorado Plateau as well as a large, diverse plant and animal community.
This southern Utah park measures 229 square miles (147,551 acres). The elevation is its lowest at 3,666 ft (1,128 m) in Coal pits Wash in the southwest corner and at its highest at 8,726 ft (2,660 m) in Horse Ranch Mountain in the Kolob Canyons section.
Zion National Park contains the richest diversity of plants in Utah with almost 800 native species. Differences in elevation, sunlight, water, and temperature create ''microenvironments,'' like hanging gardens, forested side canyons, and isolated mesas that lend to this diversity.
75 species of mammals, 271 birds, 32 reptiles and amphibians and 8 fish make their home in Zion National Park. Commonly seen animals include mule deer, rock squirrels, lizards, and many species of birds. Rare or endangered species include the Peregrine Falcon, Mexican Spotted Owl, Southwest Willow Flycatcher, desert tortoise, and the Zion snail, found nowhere else on earth.
Evidence of Ancestral Puebloans, formerly known as the Anasazi, date from about 2,000 years ago; Paiutes from about 800 years ago to present. Mormon settlers arrived in southern Utah in the 1860s. Park visitation in 1920 was 3,692; in 1996 it reached 2.5 million.
Zion National Park is a showcase of geology. Geologic processes have played an important role in shaping Zion. The arid climate and sparse vegetation allow the exposure of large expanses of bare rock and reveal the park's geologic history. Zion is located along the edge of a region called the Colorado Plateau. The rock layers have been uplifted, tilted, and eroded, forming a feature called the Grand Staircase, a series of colorful cliffs stretching between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. The bottom layer of rock at Bryce Canyon is the top layer at Zion, and the bottom layer at Zion is the top layer at the Grand Canyon.
Kolob Canyons is the little known portion of Zion National Park, but it is just as spectacular as the main canyons of the Zion proper. These rugged, red, navajo sandstone canyons have a unique geological history. They are home to diverse animal and plant life, and provide peaceful and serene surroundings to those that visit. Kolob Canyons is a beautiful place to tour throughout the year. In the winter, the red navajo sandstone glimmers with a fresh dusting of snow and in the spring the waterfalls cascade down the rugged cliffs, streaking them black from the run-off. Wild-flowers bloom in abundance during the summer, and with the coming of autumn, the yellow-gold leaves of the valley's scrub oak offers an interesting contrast to the vast scenery.
The Zion Canyon Visitor Center is a short distance from the Park's South Entrance adjacent to Springdale, along Hwy U-9. The Visitor Center at the Kolob Canyons entrance is accessible from I-15, exit 40.. During summer months, the visitor centers are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Spring, Fall and Winter hours are shortened.
Zion National Park is located 56 miles South on Hwy 9 via I-15 outside the town of Springdale, Utah. Travel by tram or bike through the park. The Kolob Canyons are located just off I-15 at exit #40, twenty miles south of Cedar City. The road through the park is short journey of only 10.6 miles round trip.
Zion Canyon Shuttle Information
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is by shuttle bus only from late March through late October, private vehicles are not allowed. The scenic drive is only accessible to vehicle traffic from the first of November through March. Highway U-9 through Zion/Mt Carmel Junction is open to vehicle traffic all year. The Zion National Park Service recommends the following steps to allow for an enjoyable trip through the park using the shuttle system.
1. Park at the Zion Canyon Visitors Center. If parking is full, park in the town of Springdale and utilize one of the free town shuttles to the park entrance. Enter the park on foot at the Zion Canyon Giant Screen. Pay your entrance fee as you enter the building (standard fee is $25 per vehicle). Ask about the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. The cost is $80 and provides access to, and use of, Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee as well as in any National Park for up to one year, it will more than pay for itself. 2. Use the exhibits at the Visitors Center to plan your visit based on your time (less than three hours or more than three hours), and your interests (sightseeing, hiking, and more). Check the schedule of ranger-led activities and the park bookstore for maps and books to enhance your visit.
3. Board one of the free shuttles. These buses are fully accessible to wheelchairs, walkers and strollers. They run from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and run as often as every six minutes. Pets are not allowed on the shuttle.
Both of the visitor centers, shuttles and Zion Lodge are fully accessible to those with special needs. Several campsites in the South Campground are reserved for people with disabilities and three trails are accessible. Many interpretive talks are accessible. The 1-mile (1.6 km) Riverside Walk, which begins at the north end of Zion Canyon Drive, is paved and accessible with assistance. The 2-mile Pa'rus Trail is also accessible to those with disabilities.
Back Country Permits Back-country permits are required for all overnight camping, hikes in the Narrows and related tributaries, Left Fork of North Creek (a.k.a The Subway), Kolob Creek, and all canyons requiring the use of technical equipment. Permits for the Subway hike may be reserved online at www.nps.gov/zion. Permits are issued at the Zion Park Visitors Center beginning at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. May-September) the day before your hike. Cost is $10 for 1-2 people, $15 for 3-7 people and $20 for 8-12 people. The maximum group size is 12 people of the same affiliation on the same trail or in the same drainage on the same day).
All narrow canyons are potentially hazardous. Your safety depends upon your good judgement, preparation and attention. By entering a narrow canyon, you are assuming the risk and your safety is your responsibility. Weather and water conditions permitting, there are three ways to hike the Zion Narrows.
1. Short day-hike: Continue upstream beyond the end of Riverside Walk. 1 to 5 hours, round trip. No permit required. 2. Through day-hike: Hike downstream from Chamberlain’s Ranch. This long all-day hike requires a shuttle to the trailhead and a $5 permit. Shuttle to trailhead is not provided by the park. 3. Overnight Hike: Hike downstream from Chamberlain’s Ranch. This two-day hike requires a shuttle to the trailhead and a $5 permit. Shuttle to trailhead is not provided by the park. Maximum stay is one night. Fires are not allowed.
Be sure to do the following: Obtain weather and flash flood information, wear sturdy boots with ankle support, take a walking stick, small children should not hike the river due to strong currents, carry out all trash-everything you carried in, carry one gallon of drinking water per person for a full day hike, take a sweater or rain-jacket, pack gear in waterproof bags.
Zion Giant Screen Theater, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Snow Canyon State Park, Quail Lake State Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Grafton Ghost Town.
For more information regarding Zion National Park, please visit www.nps.gov/zion