An Arid Paradise In The US

Posted On November 19, 2009 

Primary Info

Zion (in Hebrew means place of sanctuary or refuge) Canyon, also known as Straight Canyon or Little Zion is a deep, narrow gauge (deep narrow passage with steep rocky sides) in southwestern Utah in the United States. A part of the Colorado Plateau, the Canyon is located in the eastern side of the Zion National Park. The Virgin River marks the end of the canyon. The canyon is 1,47,000 acres in area. The Zion Canyon was discovered in 1848 and has a rich river deposit.

zion canyon utahCountry Info

The United States of America is the fourth largest (9.83 million square kilometres) and one of the richest country in the world. The country is located in  North America with the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans flanking it on the west and east respectively. To its north lies Canada and south Mexico. Its state of Alaska is in the north-west of the continent. National capital is Washington DC.


Utah is the thirteenth largest state of the USA. Located in the western US, Utah is generally rocky featuring the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau and Great Basin. It is one of the ‘Four Corners’ states in the USA. Dolores and Paria are the two of the many rivers found in Utah. Capital of Utah is Salt Lake City. The name ‘Utah’ has been derived from ‘Ute Indian’ language meaning ‘People of the mountains’.

Zion Canyon and Zion National Park

The vast area that makes up the Zion Canyon and the Zion National Park is home to rare wildlife species. The flora type here is also more varied than in any other park located in the southwest part of the US.  Zion Canyon Drive and Zion-Mount Carmel Highway are the two major roads that run through the canyon.


To reflect on history, it was almost 12,000 years ago when Zion’s first peoples, now almost invisible, tracked mammoths, giant sloths, and camels across into southern Utah. Owing to climate change and overhunting, these animals however died about 8,000 years ago. Humans thereafter focussed on mid-sized animals and gathered foods. As resources dwindled 2,600 years ago, men tuned to lifestyles more specific to the place. Slowly, a Zion culture emerged over the next 1,500 years or so. In the 1860s, following settlement by the Mormon pioneers, John Wesley Powell visited Zion on the first scientific exploration to southern Utah.

Zion National Park

Spread over an area of 1,46,598 square kilometres, The Zion national Park is located near Springdale, Utah. The zion national park15-miles long and 800 metres deep Zion Canyon is undoubtedly a prominent feature of the park. The park features foue life zones, including desert, woodland, coniferous forest and riparian. When established in 1909, the park was named as Mukuntuweap National Monument. However in 1919 after the monument received the national park status, it was renamed as Zion National Park. The park is home to a spectacular cliff-and-canyon landscape. The Kolob Arch, for instance, which is the world’s largest arch with a span that measures 310 feet is located in the park. The climate of the park is arid and the landscape is sparsely populated.


The closest major airport is Las Vegas International which is 150 miles away. Another aerodrome, St George is situated 75 kilometres from the park. There are restrictions on the size of the vehicles that can be used to reach the park. Big vehicles need to have escorts while passing through the 1 mile long Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel. Bicycling or walking is not allowed inside the tunnel. No public transportation is available. Shuttle system is available.

Time to visit

The best time to visit the Zion National Park is before or after summer. If anyone ayes to visit Grand Canyon North Rim and nearby places like Cedar Breaks National Monument, then end of May and June beginning would be the ideal time. One can also plan trips in September and early October.


Among the various plant species found in the national park, common are Cottonwood, datura, Pine, Boxelder, Yucca, Sagebrush and various types of willows.


The park is home to several fauna types including 75 mammals (of them 19 species of bats can be found) and 32 reptiles species. There can also be found 289 types of birds species including Golden Eagles and California Condors. Mountain lions, mule deer and Bighorn sheep are some of the animal species found in the national park. Tarantula spiders are also inhabitants of the national park.

Zion National Park Entrance Fee Rates:
  • US$12.00 for single person entry by foot, bicycle or motorcycle for 7 days.
  • US$25.00 for single vehicle entry Valid for 7 days.
  • US$10.00 Golden Age Passport Lifetime pass, available to US citizens of 62 years and above. It is valid at all Federal fee areas.
  • US$80.00 Golden Eagle Passport Valid at all Federal entrance fee parks/areas for 1 year from the month of purchase.
Attractions at Zion National Park

The unique landscape and wildlife at Zion National Park provide a perfect setting for climbing, photography, ranger Zion National Park Wildlifetours, horse riding and hiking including the Virgin River Narrows Trail. There is also an amphitheatre to stage outdoor performances against a fabulous backdrop in the summer. Tourists can also visit Zion Human History Museum (open daily except in the winter from November to March), Kolob Canyon Visitor Centre (open daily except on the Christmas). One can also experience the natural beauty at the nearby Bruce Canyon National Park. Here forces of erosion have shaped unique geological formations.

Where to stay:
  • Zion Lodge (only ‘in the park’ lodging facility)
  • Zion Canyon Bed and Breakfast
  • Flanigan’s Inn and Restaurant
  • Bumbleberry Inn
  • Zion Park Motel
  • Desert Pearl Inn
  • Pioneer Lodge
  • Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort
  • Desert Thistle Bed and Breakfast
  • Rodeway Inn Zion
Century of Sanctuary

2009 is a special year for Zion National Park as it completes 100 years this year. Hosts of activities are taking place throughout the year at the park (which will continue even in 2010) to commemorate the occasion, like art and photograph exhibitions, folk festival, fun run, concert, issue of stamp, fundraiser dinner, fun run, tunnel walk, screening of movies among others.

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