Zion Nat'l Park Getaways
Zion National Park protects and preserves 229 square miles of unique geological formations as well as a diverse and interesting population of plants and animals. A majority of the formations within the park are made of sedimentary rock, mostly sandstone. There are some limestone, shale, mudstone and conglomerate formations as well. Astute visitors will notice evidence of recent volcanic activity in the form of cinder cones and lava flows. Another geologic wonder within the park is Kolob Arch, the world's largest, with a span that measures 310 feet.
The plant life within the park is some of the most diverse in Utah. Nearly 800 native species are present. Vast differences in elevation, sunlight, water and temperature create 'microenvironments,' like hanging gardens, forested side canyons and isolated mesas that lend to plant and animal diversity.
The park supports a variety of commonly seen animals including mule deer, rock squirrels, lizards and many species of songbirds. Rare or endangered species in the park include: Peregrine Falcons, Mexican Spotted Owls, spinedace fish and the Zion snail (found nowhere else on earth). The rich history of this site doesn't end with the natural environment. Human history also enriches this unique region. Evidence of Ancestral Pueblo peoples date from about 2,000 years ago. The Paiutes lived in the region about 800 years ago. Mormon settlers arrived in the 1860s and gave the canyon its present name: Zion, meaning a place of safety or refuge.
This park provides a myriad of outdoor recreation opportunities for folks of all interests and skill levels. It is known for exciting hiking opportunities in narrow backcountry canyons, but many easily accessible frontcountry activities are enticing too. The park maintains two information centers: the South Visitor Center and the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center. These are great places to discover what is available, within your interests, in the park and to check current conditions.
Bicycles are permitted only on established roads and the Pa'rus Trail. Cyclists must obey traffic laws. Bicycles are not allowed on hiking trails or off-trail. Riding through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel is prohibited.
Canyoneering is popular in the vast canyons of Utah. Permits are required for all through hikes of the Narrows and its tributaries, the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), Kolob Creek and all canyons requiring the use of aid. The Subway is limited to 50 people per day and reservations are taken. Climbing on Zion's sandstone requires appropriate hardware and techniques. Climbing and rappelling is prohibited on the cliffs above Middle and Lower Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock. Some routes may be closed to climbing when Peregrine Falcons are nesting. A permit is required for overnight climbs. Visit the Backcountry Permit Desk for additional climbing routes and information.