Zion National Park

Zion National Park is located in the western part of the United States in the southwestern park of the state of Utah. The park boundaries cover an area of 229 square miles (590 sq km).

The park is situated between the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert creating a blend of geographical landscapes and a unique ecosystem that features arches, buttes, canyons, mesas, monoliths, mountains, rivers and the renowned slot canyons.

Carved by the Virgin River, the largest draw is the phenomenal Zion Canyon which stretches 15 miles (24 km), reaching depths of 2,640 feet (800 m). The elevations of the park range from 3,666 feet (1,117 m) to the highest summit of Horse Ranch Mountain at 8,726 feet (2,660 m).

The diverse ecosystem includes coniferous forest, desert, riparian, and woodland. Some of the common vegetation include sagebrush, prickly pear cactus, Indian paintbrush, scrub oak, ponderosa pine, juniper, pinyon pine, Gambel oak, aspen and yucca.

Bats account from 19 species of the 79 mammalian species. Predators include badger, bobcat, cougar, coyote, gray fox, and ring-tailed cat. The predator birds include the renowned golden eagles, California condor, red-tailed hawks, and the peregrine falcon which is the world’s fastest bird.

Popular mammals include bighorn sheep, mule deer, rock squirrels, beaver, cottontails, and jackrabbits. The varied life zones give way to 28 species of reptiles that call Zion home.

Highlights

  • Zion Canyon
  • Horse Ranch Mountain
  • The Narrows
  • Angels Landing and Kolob Arch

Hiking the trails of Zion National Park are the pinnacle experience although you can also take guided horseback rides. There is a network of over 50 miles trails throughout the park featuring 7 trails within Zion Canyon that can be made round trip in under four hours.

The Narrows is located in the North Fork of the Virgin River and serves as one of the most famous hikes in Zion however, hiking the northwest area requires permits. 

Two of the more popular hikes include the trail to Angels Landing, which takes about 4 hours round trip, and the trail to Kolob Arch which takes about 8 hours round trip. Both make their way up good elevation changes requiring hikers to be in decent shape.

The more adventurous rock climbers take advantage of the various walls that include Moonlight Buttress, Prodigal Son, Spaceshot and Touchstone.

Sources:

Britannica, Zion National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Zion-National-Park, retrieved September 2019.

Lonely Planet, Zion National Park, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/southwest/zion-national-park, retrieved September 2019.

National Geographic, Everything to know about Zion National Park, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/zion-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.

Visit Southern Utah, Zion National Park, https://www.visitsouthernutah.com/Zion-National-Park, retrieved September 2019.

Visit Utah, Zion National Park, , https://www.visitutah.com/places-to-go/parks-outdoors/zion/, retrieved September 2019.

Zion National Park, Escape to Zion National Park, https://www.zionnationalpark.com/, retrieved September 2019.