Zion National Park Park Profile

Overview

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.

Establishment

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.

Name

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

Size:

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

99 miles of perimeter boundary

Rivers and Streams:

160 miles

Elevation:

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)

Flora:

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

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

Threatened Species

Shivwits Milkvetch

Fauna:

  • 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

Archeological:

430 sites (13% of park surveyed to date)

List of classified structures (Historic/prehistoric):

94

National Register of Historic Places and Properties

Districts:

4

Cataloged Museum Objects:

219,000

Visitor Services and Protection

Camping:

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)

Hiking trails:

120 miles

Canyon Trail Rides:

Guided horse trips in Zion Canyon (March-October)

Interpretation and Education

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

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

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.

Development

Roads:

57 miles (Paved and gravel)

Zion/Mt. Carmel Tunnel

Constructed: 1927 - 1930

Length: 5613 feet (1.06 miles)

Width: 22 feet

Height: 16 feet

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