Zion National Park
10.22.19 - 10.22.19 65 °F
Today featured our adventure into Zion National Park, the last stop on this trip. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to 2,640 ft (800 m) deep. The canyon walls are reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone eroded by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest point in the park is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest peak is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park has a unique geography and a variety of life zones that allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans, one of which was the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi (c. 300 CE). Subsequently, the Virgin Anasazi culture (c. 500) and the Parowan Fremont group developed as the Basketmakers settled in permanent communities. Both groups moved away by 1300 and were replaced by the Parrusits and several other Southern Paiute subtribes.
Zion is unique in the Utah parks in that you have to use their shuttle system as parking within the park is very limited and the scenic drive can only be accessed by shuttle. If you stay in Springdale, which is ideal, you can take the town shuttle directly from your hotel to the Park Visitors Center, and from there, board the Park Shuttles to the nine stops within the park. This is what we did and it worked well. You end up talking to some very interesting people both on the bus and on the trail. Unless you intend on doing some intense hiking, you can cover the park in one day and thoroughly enjoy it! We boarded the town bus about 9:15am, which allows you to watch the sun penetrate the canyon,
The Utah National Parks are truly spectacular - worth every minute. Our country is geographically spectacular. These parks are a testament to that.