to See and Do
cars are banned from the busy Virgin River Canyon.
Visitors now catch a shuttle from the new visitor
center near Springdale for a bus tour of the
canyon. The shuttle stops at all trailheads and
scenic viewpoints. It runs during the busy season
-- March through October.
loop includes nine stops in Zion Canyon, and a
second has six stops in the town of Springdale.
Parking is available throughout Springdale and
inside the south park entrance. It is possible to
leave your vehicle in town and ride the shuttle to
the new Zion Canyon Visitor Center, or park at the
visitor center. The visitor center is the start of
the Zion Canyon loop into the park. Visitors may
get on and off the shuttle as many times as they
wish. The cost of the shuttle system is included in
the park entrance fee.
provides a wonderful diversity of landscape and
ecosystems. From the forests of the surrounding plateaus
(up to 9,000 feet elevation) to the deep sandstone
canyons and desert riverbottoms, Zion National Park is a
fine testament to the geological forces of nature. In the
case of this park, it is the Virgin River that has done
most of the sculpting, as it cut its way through layer
after layer of stone. It still flows through the park,
relentlessly cutting through Zion Canyon.
was once a desert of huge, blowing sand dunes. In
dinosaur times, a shallow sea covered the dunes, and lime
from sea animals and other sources seeped into the sand,
cementing the sand and creating sandstone. There was an
uplifting of land and the sea drained away, leaving the
rivers to carve the sandstone into the dramatic canyons
now found throughout southern Utah. Zion Canyon is
certainly one of the most dramatic and beautiful of these
Paiute name for the canyon was Mukuntuweap, and in 1909
President Taft gave the Paiute name to what was then a
national monument. Local Mormon pioneers called the area
Zion and lobbied for a change in name when the monument
was enlarged in 1918. The next year, it became a national
park, and it has since been enlarged by the addition of
the Kolob Canyons area.
park now covers about 147,000 acres. Zion, as a "heavenly
place," had been home to the ancient Anasazi culture, and
then the nomadic Paiute Indians roamed the region. The
early Mormon pioneers found it no less attractive than
its former inhabitants, and it is now preserved for us
all to enjoy.
Highway 9 runs east and west through the southern reaches
of the park, which contain the major attractions. The
town of Kanab is 41 miles to the east and St. George 36,
miles to the west. Cedar City is 55 miles northwest of
the park headquarters, via Highways 9 and I-15. The Kolob
Canyons area is accessed from Interstate 15, south of
Cedar City. The park headquarters is 309 miles south of
Salt Lake City. the new shuttle service through Zion
Canyon leaves from the visitor center.
to See & Do
2.5 million people visit Zion each year, which makes for
a lot of people in the busier months. Sightseeing,
walking the park trails, bicycling, camping, staying in
the lodge, and riding are the major activities. During
the summer months, there is a Junior Ranger program in
the park for children 6&endash;12 years of age. Zion is
not just a few canyons to see, although the canyons are
its most impressive feature. A huge backcountry area lies
north and west of the Virgin River canyons, and many
visitors take off with a backpack to camp in the
wilderness. Some of the longer trails lead through the
backcountry, and camping is permitted along these
main visitor center is located near the south entrance to
the park, on Highway 9. There are a variety of services
in this area. There is a smaller visitor center at the
entrance to the Kolob Canyons area of the park, off
Interstate 15. There is no internal road connection
between the two sections of the park.
roads lead through various parts of the park, providing
access to the major trails and camping sites. From the
visitor center, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive leads
north along the rim of the canyon, with the Virgin River
far below. During the busy season, you'll have to catch
the poark shuttle to view these signts. There are two
footbridges along the first section of the drive, between
the turnoff and Zion Lodge. Both bridges lead to the Sand
Bench Trail (see below). The Emerald Pools Trail leads
down the canyon from opposite Zion Lodge. This is an easy
walk (1.2 miles, about an hour's walk), ending at the
Lower Pool with three waterfalls and fine views of cliffs
that drop more than 600 feet.
road continues past the lodge to the Grotto (with another
footbridge) and a picnic area. Here are the trailheads
for the West Rim Trail and the Angels Landing Trail.
Passing beside the Great White Throne (a peak to the
east) and Angels Landing (west of the highway) the road
curves around another peak (the Organ), with a turnaround
at the Temple of Sinewava, which is the trailhead for the
Gateway to the Narrows Trail. This is an easy trail
following the Virgin River past hanging gardens of
wildflowers in the spring and early summer period. There
are several trailside exhibits. All along this drive --
across the river and canyon -- are spectacular rock
formations including the Court of the Patriarchs,
Cathedral Mountain and the Pulpit.
9 (now called the Zion&endash;Mt. Carmel Highway),
leads east from the visitor center area passing through
tunnels before reaching the east entrance to the park.
There is a 1-mile trail to the Great Arch, with the
Canyon Overlook at the halfway point.
Canyons Road is a short drive from the Kolob entrance
to the park. At Lee Pass is the Kolob Arch Trail, a
strenuous, 14-mile hike with a side-trail leading to the
Terrace Road (open summer only) is accessed from
Highway 9 at the village of Virgin, west of the south
entrance. It leads through BLM lands before entering the
park, running across the Lower Kolob Plateau and
providing access to the Wildcat Canyon Trail and the
remote Lava Point Campground. The northern trailhead for
the West Rim Trail is at the campground.
Park Lodge, Zion National Park, Springdale UT 84767,
lodge has cabins and motel rooms, as well as a
restaurant, snack bar and gift shop. It is set in the
valley surrounded by wonderfully high cliffs. There are
suites and cabins, all with private baths. There is a
dining room and coffee shop, gift shop, and guided walks
as well as tram and trail rides. You'll find it in the
middle of Zion Canyon, across the road from the Virgin
River ($$ to $$$). Advance reservations are recommended,
particularly during the busy summer season. For rates and
reservations, phone (435) 586-7686.
and South Campgrounds, located near the south
entrance, are available on a first come, first served
basis, and a fee is charged. One of these campgrounds is
open year-round. Both campgrounds have water, picnic
tables, fire grates, and dump stations. There are no
hookups or showers. The Lava Point Campground is open
from May to October. Here there are tables, fire grates,
and toilets. There is no water provided here but no fee
is charged. Both can be reached by calling (435)
are several private campgrounds within 25 miles of the
park. The small town of Springdale has a full-service RV
park. There are RV parks and motels in
Mt. Carmel, Hurricane, and Cedar
Lodge and Gardens
281 Zion Park Blvd., Springdale UT 84767
This lodge sits on river frontage with 5 acres of lawns,
trees, and flowers. There are 36 units with wonderful
views of the surrounding cliffs of Zion National Park.
There is a swimming pool The lodge is a 2-minute drive
from the park ($$).
the Eaves Guest House
P.O. Box 29, Springdale UT 84767
Not only does this B&B offer views of the canyon,
it's actually constructed from stone blocks cut from
there to form a cozy Tudor-style cottage. There are five
rooms, three with private bath. A generous breakfast is
served and picnic lunches are available ($ to $$).
Canyon Campground in Springdale (435-772-3237) has 75
full-service RV sites and 75 sites for tents. Rental
cabins are also available, and there's a recreation room
and restaurant on the property. Zion RV Park has 75 full
hookups plus tent sites, laundry, swimming pool, gas
station, and dump station (435-635-4272).
RV Park and Campground
Located at the East entrance to Zion National Park, the
RV park offers full hookups, as well as tenting sites.
This extensive operation, owned by the Baca family,
includes log cabin, Navaho hogan, and teepee rentals,
with showers and laundry. Acrosss the street is a
restaurant serving Mexican cuisine, a gas station, and
gift shop featuring Zican Indian arts and crafts.