Starting our Southern Utah tour with the famous Zion National Park. We spent three full days hiking into deep canyons and up the steepest scariest trails we have ever been on. Zion is most well known for its namesake canyon, Zion Canyon. The canyon is 15 miles long and up to 2,640 ft deep! Walls of the canyon are a beautiful reddish color from the layers of Navajo Sandstone. A shuttle system takes visitors up and down the Virgin River/Canyon to several trailheads, museums, and a hotel.
The canyon area was very busy with tourists during our visit, but we found that getting to the park early and hopping on the shuttle right away helped cut down on time spent waiting in line. Once in the heart of the canyon, we never had to wait more than five minutes for a shuttle. Shuttles were implemented in the 1970s as a way to reduce traffic, smog, and noise pollution. Because of the reduced car traffic, wildlife has been able to return to the canyon floor.
A Very Brief History
Zion has a long history of Native Americans thriving along the Virgin River and exploring the nearby slot canyons further up the river. It is estimated that people lived in the area as long as 8,000 years ago. It was the Mormons who were the first white people to settle the area. Mormons petitioned the National Park Service to change the park’s name to Zion. The Latter Day Saints refer to Zion as a utopia for the righteous. Seeing how beautiful the landscape is here, it’s easy to see why people thought it could be a utopia. President Woodrow Wilson made Zion an official national park in 1919.