Plan Your Trip-What To Do-What To See
Following is a brief description of Zion National Park. Click on the links below for more detailed information and assistance in planning a trip to the area.
Zion National Park is located in the southwest corner of Utah, 50 minutes west of St. George, Utah, 2 1/2 hours northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and 5 hours south of Salt Lake City, Utah. The park encompasses about 147,000 acres of land that is both magical and breathtaking. Visitors are treated to a unique geographical wonder of majestic sandstone canyons, towering cliffs and massive monoliths that soar 2,000 to 3,000 feet above the valley floor. The Virgin River which flows through the lush valley floor has been a major contributor to the creation of Zion Canyon and creates a delightful oasis amidst the surrounding desert environment.
Zion National Park is the oldest national park in Utah. The earliest settlers to the area were the Anasazi Indians, followed by the Paiutes and then the Mormons. The Mormon settlers are responsible for naming the area "Zion" (a biblical term meaning a temple of worship, a fortress, a place of sanctuary). The area was first declared a national monument in 1909 and given the name of Mukuntuweep (a Paiute Indian name meaning straight canyon). The name was later changed to Zion National Monument and in 1919 the area was declared a national park by President Wilson and officially renamed Zion National Park. The majority of the Parks' roadways and trails were completed during the 1920's and 30's. The 1.1 mile Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel in the Park is an engineering marvel that required blasting through solid sandstone, taking 3 years to complete. The Kolob Arch, located in the Kolob section of the Park, is one of the world's largest freestanding natural arches.
The Park boasts over 900 species of native plants and wildflowers. More than 78 species of mammals reside in the Park including mule deer, bighorn sheep, elk and occasionally someone as seen a mountain lion. Zion is a birder's paradise with over 271 species of birds including Peregrine Falcons, bald eagles, Mexican spotted owls and the recently relocated California Condor.
Activities in the Park and surrounding area include: hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, canyoneering, horseback riding, bicycling and scenic drives. Park Rangers conduct guided walks and talks and there is a Junior Ranger Program for children. The Zion Canyon Field Institute also conducts educational hiking trips that provide information on the geology and archaeology of the area as well as photography seminars. Zion boasts spectacular sunrises and sunsets and the light plays on the rock formations can be phenomenal, making the park a photographers paradise. There is a shuttle system that operates during the peak season to transport visitors into Zion Canyon. This system has alleviated congestion and greatly improved the visitor experience to Zion National Park.
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