Massive sandstone cliffs in beautiful colors like cream, pink and red, this is Zion National Park in southwest Utah on the Arizona border. Zion National Park lies on the border of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and the Mojave Desert. Zion is an ancient Hebrew word meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary.
In 1909, the canyon area was designated Mukuntuweap National Monument. In 1919 it got the status of a national park. In 1937, Zion Park was expanded to include Kolob Canyon.
Zion Park has an area of approximately 579 km². In the park you can experience quite a difference in altitude. Between 1128 m the lowest point of the “Coalpits Wash” and 2660 m the “Horse Ranch Mountain” the highest point in the park.
The Virgin River rises near Zion National Park. It flows through the national park and offers many tourist attractions. After about 200 miles, the Virgin River empties into the Colorado River, and thus into Lake Mead at Hoover Dam.
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Within Zion Park is a canyon-rich landscape with numerous cliffs and massive rock walls. Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyon are the most famous gorges. The canyons are formed from 170-million-year-old brown to orange-red sandstone from the Navajo Formation.
Due to the different habitats, Zion National Park consists of a unique variety of plants and animals. 84 percent of this unusual landscape is preserved as wilderness.
On March 30, 2009, President Barrack Obama signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act designating 124,406 hectares of Zion National Park as Zion Wilderness. The designation Zion Wilderness applies to the hinterland of Zion National Park to protect the plants and animals.
What is geologically interesting about Zion National Park is that the bottom layer of rocks in Bryce Canyon is the top layer in Zion, and the bottom layer in Zion is the top layer in the Grand Canyon. This is called the Grand Staircase.
Some of the main attractions in Zion National Park are:
Virgin River Narrows
The Narrows is a bottleneck in the Virgin River between impressive cliffs without banks. It is located at the end of Zion Canyon. To get there you have to take the shuttle bus to the last stop and plan a 30 to 40 minute walk. From the narrow ” The Narrows ” you can only make progress by walking through the river. But one should note that the way through the Vigin River is treacherous and very strenuous. However, the hike through the river must be registered. It takes one to two days to hike the entire route of around 25 kilometers. The route through the river only goes in one direction.
The Emerald Pools are small flowing rivers or streams that can emerge from a rock face, then disappear and reappear somewhere else.
The Emerald Pools Trail leads through dense forests. It is very popular as a hike with visitors to the national park. Small waterfalls can be seen on the Emerald Pools trail hike.
Angel’s Landing is a 1763 m high rock formation that can be hiked over an 8 km long trail with 450 m elevation gain. The path is very narrow in parts, but you are secured with anchored chains as fall protection. At the end of the climb you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view over Zion Canyon.
The Kolob Arch is one of the longest natural stone arches. It shares status with the Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. The mean value of Kolob Arch is currently about 89.6 m. It can only be reached by hiking and is located above a steep cliff.
Checkerboard Mesa is a mesa at the east entrance of Zion Park. Table Mountain is formed from sandstone of the Navajo stratum. The Checkerboard Mesa is traversed by vertical and horizontal ridges.
Visitor Center & Museum in Zion National Park
The Zion Canyon Visitor Center is located in the park at the south entrance. The Visitor Center offers information, exhibits, backcountry permits, and books about the park.
On the park’s northwest boundary of Zion National Park, the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center offers information and backcountry permits.
A museum in Zion National Park, the Zion Human History Museum is open spring through fall and features exhibits from the park, shows films, and sells books.
Driving to Zion National Park in Utah
Access Zion National Park from the west on Interstate 15 and from the east on Route 9.
Admission to Zion Park is paid at the entrance, the price is $25 per car and $12 per pedestrian or bicyclist. The admission ticket is valid for the next seven days. A free guide, the Zion National Park Map & Zion Guide, is available at the park entrance or at the visitor center.
You can get around the park with a well-developed shuttle bus system, the cars are left at the park entrance. The shuttle bus runs from April to the end of October. In the remaining months when there is no shuttle bus, you are allowed to drive your private vehicle in the park.
Zion National Park and the Zion Canyon Visitor Center are open year round except December 25th. You can stay overnight in Zion National Park at Zion Lodge, but you should book early because demand at Zion Lodge is very high.
Zion National Park is managed by the National Park Service for the benefit of the public.
Follow in the footsteps of ancient Native Americans and find plenty to see as you explore Zion National Park’s hiking trails.
Zion National Park attraction address
Zion National Park
Springdale, UT 84767-1099