Zion National Park Park Profile


Located in Washington , Iron and Kane Counties in Southwestern Utah , Zion National Park encompasses some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States . The park is characterized by high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep, sandstone canyons and striking rock towers and mesas. Zion Canyon is the largest and most visited canyon in the park. The North Fork of the Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge here, with canyon walls in most places rising 2000-3000 feet above the canyon floor. The southern part of the park is a lower desert area, with colorful mesas bordered by rocky canyons and washes. The northern sections of the park are higher plateaus covered by forests.

Mission Statement

The Zion National Park mission is to preserve the dynamic natural process of canyon formation as an extraordinary example of canyon erosion and to protect and preserve the valuable cultural, geologic, vegetation and wildlife resources while providing safe, sustainable and cost-efficient access for visitors experience and enjoyment. In addition, the park aims to educate both visitors and the general public about this exceptional environment.


Established as Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909; name changed to Zion National Monument in 1918; expanded and established as a National Park in 1919; Kolob Canyons section established as a National Monument in 1937 and added to Zion National Park in 1956.


Zion , a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety or refuge, was given to the canyon by Mormon pioneers in the 1860's.

Human History

Evidence of 6,000 years of human occupation by Archaic, Ancestral Puebloans, (known by archaeologists as the Virgin Branch of the Kayenta Anasazi and Parowan Fremont) Southern Paiutes and Mormon settlers who arrived in the 1860's.

Natural Resources

Geographic Features


146,597 acres (229 square miles) 90% recommended wilderness

99 miles of perimeter boundary

Rivers and Streams:

160 miles


highest 8,726 ft (2660 m) Horse Ranch Mountain

lowest 3,666 ft (1128 m) Coalpits Wash

North Fork of the Virgin River

River length in park: 18 miles (Primary tributary length in park: 39 miles)

Gradient: 50-70 feet per mile

Sediment transfer: One million tons per year (average)

The Narrows:

A two mile section of the North Fork of the Virgin River above the Temple of Sinawava that in places is only 20-30 feet across with 2000+ foot canyon walls on each side

Zion Canyon:

A 6.5 mile section of the North Fork of the Virgin River that has carved out a major canyon from the Temple of Sinawava to Springdale .

Depth: 2000-2500 feet

Width: Up to .25 mile

Climate and Weather:

Annual Precipitation: 15 inches ( Zion Canyon) Temperature extremes: Highest: 115 F ( July 13, 2002 ; Zion Canyon Lowest: -2 F (January 1, 1989; Zion Canyon)


Approximately 900+ species (richest diversity of plants in Utah )

Exotics: Approximately 100, of which 15 are of major concern

Threatened Species

Shivwits Milkvetch


78 species mammals

290 species birds

44 species reptiles and amphibians

8 species fish

Threatened or endangered species:

Mexican Spotted Owl

Southwest Willow Flycatcher

Desert Tortoise

Species of special concern/Rare species:

Zion Snail (endemic)

Virgin Spinedace

Peregrine Falcon

Cultural Resources


430 sites (13% of park surveyed to date)

List of classified structures (Historic/prehistoric):


National Register of Historic Places and Properties







Transportation Structures:


Irrigation Ditches:


Cataloged Museum Objects:



Number of employees in fiscal year 2004

Permanent 130

Seasonal 84

Volunteers in Parks -

315 volunteers contributed 27,673 hours of service

Student Conservation Association -

9 SCAs contributed 4,160 hours of service

Operating Budget: 2004

$5,860,700 Base Appropriation

Park Management $346,300

Concessions $70,100

Administration $747,900

Interpretation $737,800

Visitor Protection/Backcountry $1,061,100

Maintenance $1,826,900

Kolob District $229,200

Resource Management/Research $841,400

Visitor Services and Protection


2,699,241 (2004) Record Year

Average of 2.5 million over the last ten years (11,000 visitors per day during peak season months of July and August). Between mid-1980and 2000, annual visitation nearly doubled from 1.5 million visitors to over 2.5 million.

Frontcountry Camping (limited to 14 days)

Watchman Campground: 168 sites (hookups, reservations April-Oct.)

South Campground: 126 sites (no reservations)

Lava Point Campground: 6 sites (primitive, no reservations)

Picnic Areas:

4 (Grotto, Kolob Canyons , Nature Center , Zion Canyon VC)

Backcountry Use (2004)

Backcountry Camp Sites : 41

Total Permits issued: 7292

Overnight Backpacking Permits: 2896

Technical Canyoneering (Day Use): 4142

Climbing Bivouacs: 241

Hiking trails:

120 miles


Parks Transportation, Inc. (Shuttle System)

Beginning in May 2000, Zion instituted a mandatory shuttle bus system for visitors during April - October for the six miles of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive . There are 30 propane-powered buses (with 21 accompanying trailers) that make 15 stops (six in Springdale and nine in the park)

2,628,443 passengers in 2004 (up 8.7% from 2003)

Xanterra Parks and Resorts (Open all year)

Zion Lodge (motel units, cabins, restaurant, snack bar, gift shop)

Canyon Trail Rides:

Guided horse trips in Zion Canyon (March-October)

Visitor Protection (2004)

Search and Rescue: 36 incidents

Law Enforcement Incidents: 2,240

Emergency Medical Services: 199

Fire Management (2004)

Wildland Fires (includes fire use fires): 24 (21 acres total)

Prescribed Fires: 1 Clear Trap (4,400 acres total)

Mechanical Fuels Reduction: 349 acres

Interpretation and Education

Programs presented: 2004 (numbers do not include visitor center contacts)

Talks, hikes, evening programs, shuttle tours: 36,993 visitors

Information Mail outs: 4,191

Information Phone Calls: 10,701

Information e-mails: 2,884

Educational Outreach : 4,695 students

Human History Museum Visitation: 155,997

Zion Natural History Association: A non-profit organization that supports education, research and other programs for the benefit of Zion . Financial aid is provided to the park through the sales of interpretive products. Outlets for these products are located in the two park visitor centers and the Zion Human History Museum .

Zion Canyon Field Institute: A non-profit organization that provides year-round field education classes dealing with the Zion Ecosystem.



57 miles (Paved and gravel)

Zion/Mt. Carmel Tunnel

Constructed: 1927 - 1930

Cost: $1,896,000.

Length: 5613 feet (1.06 miles)

Width: 22 feet

Height: 16 feet


92 administrative/public use (19 historic)|

35 housing structures (13 historic)

2 Visitor Centers

1 Environmental Education Center

1 Human History Museum

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