The desert is a varied place of heat and cold, wet hidden canyons and dry alkali dust where greasewood and stubby cacti grow.
Zion National Park is all of these and more, drawing tourists from across the globe to view the bands of sandstone worn by wind and water into fantastic shapes and images. Over two hundred square miles of Utah land in size; the park was founded in 1919, nearly one hundred years ago.
It is over half a mile in depth and fifteen miles long; with the North Fork of the Virgin River winding through it reveals a wonderland of four main types of zones: desert; riparian, coniferous forest and woodland. The plants range from the common yucca, cactus to the datura, sagebrush cottonwood, juniper and pine; mountain lions, mule deer, golden eagles, California condors and bighorn sheep share the diversity of Zion National Park.
Native American family groups were the first to live here in Zion, crumbled remains of their homes and art can be seen in the hidden nooks of the canyons that make up the park. Emigrating Mormons discovered the area in 1858 and settled a few years later.
Today, almost three million visitors come to Utah annually to see the incredible canyon country of Zion National Park. Vehicle access is limited to shuttle busses during the months of April to October for the Zion Canyon scenic drive. The first roads were upgraded versions of the old wagon trails providing access to the east side of the park and the town of Springdale. The Zion Mount Carmel tunnel which cuts through over a mile of sandstone cliff has six large windows cut into the solid rock.
Among the activities people chose to participate in are: hiking, auto touring, bike riding, exploring the canyons and climbing. One of the best deals to choose when deciding on fees is to use the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. It costs $80.00 and is a great deal for people who visit multiple parks within a year’s time. For a seven day pass good for private vehicles and RV’s the charge is $25.00.
As with all national parks, it is a good idea to research online and familiarize yourself with the area you are visiting. Remember to keep enough water and food nearby and dress for the climate when hiking in Zion. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan on returning. Enjoy the beauty of the sandstone sculptured by wind, rain and time in Zion National Park.
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