Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

High plateaus, mazes of narrow, deep sandstone canyons and impressive rock formations characterize Zion National Park. They were formed when the Virgin River carved its way through the rock, leaving the spectacular gorges between 600 and 1,000 m deep. The layers of earth were pushed up, tilted and flushed out. This is how “The Grand Staircase” came about – a series of red-colored rocks that stretch between Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

According to answermba, Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyon are probably the most famous canyons in Zion National Park. The ancient Hebrew word “Zion” was often used by the Mormon settlers to mean “place of refuge” or “sanctuary”. Up until the late 18th century, the Anasazi, Ute and Paiute tribes lived here mainly from hunting, farming and animal husbandry. Dry periods of drought followed by floods, however, forced the Indians to abandon the region.

Since it was declared a national park in 1919, the area has become an increasingly popular destination for nature lovers and tourists with its diverse scenic attractions. The park is considered one of the most visited national parks in the United States.

To really experience the national park, one should hike under the towering cliffs or step through one of those small narrow canyons. The unique sandstone rocks shine impressively in shades of color from cream to pink to red. They could be described as sand castles that soar into desert canyons.

Location and Size
Zion National Park, located in southwest Utah, covers an area of ​​almost 580 km². The park is located on the border between the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert and, due to its special geographical location, offers a wide variety of habitats for many animal and plant species.

by plane:

The nearest major airports are in Las Vegas (LAS)/Nevada and Salt Lake City (SLC)/Utah, both approximately 430 km from the park. There are smaller airports in Cedar City (CDC)/Utah (130 km) and St. George (SGU)/Utah (200 km).

by car, motorcycle or bus:
Zion National Park is located on State Route 9 in Springdale, Utah. All distances given are the distances to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

From Las Vegas, Nevada (160 miles), Mesquite, Nevada (80 miles) and
Saint George, Utah (40 miles):

  • Interstate 15 North
  • Exit 16 – Right onto State Route 9 East (53 km)
  • Stay right on State Route 9 East in La Verkin, Utah (20 miles).
  • Take State Route 9 East to Zion National Park, Zion Canyon Visitor Center is on the right

From Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (140 km):

  • State Route 63 North (7 km)
  • Turn left onto State Route 12 West (14 miles)
  • Turn left onto US Route 89 South (43 miles)
  • Keep right onto State Route 9 West at Mount Carmel Junction, Utah
    (39 km)
  • On State Route 9 West to Zion National Park, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center is 4 km on the left

Opening Hours and Seasons
Zion National Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round.

Entrance Fees
Private Vehicle: USD 35. Valid for 7 days.
Allows private, non-commercial vehicles (15 passengers max) and all occupants entry to Zion National Park, including Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyon.
Motorbike: USD 30 per person. Valid for 7 days.
Per person: USD 20. Valid for 7 days. Applies to cyclists, hikers and pedestrians. Young people up to 15 have free admission.

Shuttle System
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible only by shuttle bus most of the year. During the winter months, when the shuttle is not operating, visitors must use private vehicles. The shuttle system has two routes, both of which form a loop. The Springdale Shuttle Loop stops at six stops in Springdale. The Zion Canyon Shuttle Loop stops at eight stops in the park. There is a transfer option between the loops at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. The shuttle is free, you can hop on and off as often as you like.

The parking lot at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center usually fills up in the morning. Alternatively, park in Springdale (there are “shuttle parking” signs everywhere in town) and take the shuttle to the park. Guests staying in town should leave their car there and take the shuttle to the park.

Climate and weather
Wet weather is not uncommon in spring, but warm, sunny days are just as typical. The difference between day and night temperatures can be as much as 17°C. It can be very cool in the mornings and evenings.

During the summer, temperatures in Zion National Park often reach more than 100°F (38°C). Even at higher elevations, temperatures can top 90°F (32°C). Flash flooding can also occur from mid-July to September.

Fall The heat of summer gives way to cooler temperatures and drier weather, making it an ideal time to visit Zion National Park.

Winters in Zion National Park are cold and often wet. Almost half of Zion Canyon’s annual precipitation falls between December and March. The roads are cleared, but the trails are mostly closed due to snow and ice. The snow usually disappears within a few hours after winter storms at the lower elevations. Snow accumulates at higher altitudes. As temperatures rise in spring, snowmelt causes flooding in the Virgin River and its tributaries.

Average temperatures in Zion Park in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 11 14 17 23 28 34 38 36 33 26 17 12
Min -2 -1 2 6 11 16 20 19 16 9 3 -1


The Narrows
Hikers will have to wade or even swim through waist-deep water at times during the 25km walk, as the sections are unbounded and the cliffs rise sheer on either side. The Virgin River gorge is located at the end of Zion Canyon and is a 30 to 40 minute walk from the Temple of Sinawa shuttle bus stop. The hike through must be registered at the backcountry desk for the safety of the participants (duration: approx. 16 hours).

Viewpoints, other hikes and sights

Checkboard Mesa
Located at the east entrance of the park, this Navajo Sandstone mesa features a surface riddled with vertical and horizontal ridges. The vertical grooves were created by slowly melting snow masses, which widened and deepened the existing furrows through repeated thawing and refreezing, while the horizontal grooves were caused by the dune sand blown by the wind along the different sedimentation layers (duration: approx. 4 hours).

Angels Landing
The 1,763 m high rock formation can be reached via a strenuous 8 km long path, which is extremely narrow and leads past deep chasms on both sides. The ascent is supported with anchored chains and hikers are rewarded with a fantastic view at the finish (duration: approx. 5 hours).

Emerald Pools
The almost circular pools are created by temporary rivers, the water from which seeps through the porous Navajo sand rock, flows into streams and then emerges from the rock walls in the form of small waterfalls and collects here. They can be reached via the hiking trail of the same name, which leads slightly uphill through dense forests, and are among the most popular destinations for many day hikers (duration: approx. 1 to 3 hours).

Big Bend
This is an excellent spot to get off the bus to view and photograph two of Zion’s most famous landmarks: Angels Landing and the Great White Throne.

Weeping Rock
This is the largest of the hanging gardens. A short but steep trail leads to a seep at the foot of a cliff. Weeping Rock is also the starting point for the East Rim, Observation Point and Hidden Canyon hiking trails.

The Grotto
Here is the start of the trail for the West Rim, Angels Landing and Kayenta trails, as well as a shaded rest area with tables, water and restrooms.

Zion Lodge
The lodge has restrooms, a snack bar and a gift shop. This is also the stop for those wishing to hike to the Emerald Pools. The start of the trail is across the road to the west.

Court of the Patriarchs
A short walk from here leads to a view of the towering cliffs on the west side of the bus.

Canyon Junction
Access to the north end of the Pa’rus trail is found from this stop. The Pa’rus Trail connects Canyon Junction to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and is paved, making it suitable for bicycles.

Zion Human History Museum
The Zion Museum documents the history of Native Americans, the Mormon pioneers and their predecessors. The massive rock walls behind the building are called ‘Temples’ and ‘Towers of the Virgin’. The best place to enjoy this view is from the terrace behind the museum, from where you can see the full span of these rocks, said to be the highest sandstone cliffs in the world.

Zion National Park, Utah

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