13 Things to Know Before Visiting Zion National Park

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Zion National Park entrance station with red rock formations and blue sky

Zion National Park is the third most popular National Park in the United States. It’s centrally located near Springdale in southern Utah, near the Arizona and Nevada borders.

Zion National Park occupies 229 square miles of sandstone canyons, river tributaries, plateaus, and natural ecosystems. So, the number of things to do and see within its vast wilderness can be dizzying.

To help you plan a trip to one of the country’s most beloved national parks, here’s everything you need to know about visiting Zion National Park in our comprehensive travel guide.

1. Determine the Best Time to Visit

Visitor Center and Zion Canyon Shuttle sign at Zion National Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Zion National Park is open year-round, although some roads and trails close seasonally or as needed due to current conditions. The Watchman Campground inside Zion National Park is open year-round, but some sites are seasonally unavailable.

That said, depending on what kind of adventure you’re looking for, some times of the year are better than others. The vast majority of Zion National Park is a desert ecosystem, with weather conditions that can change dramatically quickly at any time of year.

Here’s what you can expect from each season.

Winter

Zion National Park entrance sign with red sandstone archway and towering sandstone cliffs.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The park sees nearly half its annual precipitation from December through March, so don’t forget a raincoat!

While daytime high temperatures are often a pleasant 50 degrees Fahrenheit or more, they plummet below freezing at night, so camping in winter is not for the faint of heart. Still, enjoying the desert landscape is easier without the oppressive summer heat.

Spring

Serene view of cottonwood trees and red sandstone cliffs by the Virgin River in Zion National Park during early spring
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When spring arrives, visitors can enjoy pleasantly warm weather and plenty of sunshine, but winter’s wet, stormy weather doesn’t release its grip on the park just yet.

Springtime weather swings rapidly between summer and winter, so travelers should come prepared for anything.

Summer

Angels Landing during summer in Zion National Park
evenfh / Adobe Stock

The summer is the most popular time to visit Zion National Park, primarily because of traditional school schedules and summer breaks, so crowds are plentiful this time of year.

There’s little shade in the vast majority of Zion National Park, and temperatures can easily top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so visitors should bring sunscreen and lots of water this time of year. 

The Narrows, with its flowing water and sheer cliff faces on either side, provide a pleasant respite from the heat in the summer months.

On the other hand, monsoons are possible from July to September, and flash flooding is an ever-present risk, particularly in the narrow canyon along the river.

Fall

Angels Landing fall foliage view in Zion National Park
nstanev / Adobe Stock

The autumn months generally have the most pleasant months for outdoor activities like hiking and canyoneering, but as in the spring, conditions can change quickly.

Temperatures can fluctuate over 30 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day and night, so fall visitors should bring many layers and be prepared for hot and cold weather conditions.

See Related: Warm Winter Backpacking Destinations

2. Know How to Get to the Park Efficiently

A vibrant road trip scene showcasing the colorful landscape along Zion Park Boulevard with clear blue skies, red sandstone cliffs, and a smooth road inviting exploration. (source: [AIContentfy](https://aicontentfy.com/en/blog/how-to-use-image-alt-tags-to-boost-seo))
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Zion National Park sits at the edge of the Dixie National Forest. Getting to Zion National Park takes less than three hours from Las Vegas, just over four hours from Salt Lake City, seven hours from Phoenix, and just shy of ten hours from Denver

But it wasn’t always so easy. When the park’s status first became official, there was only one road to and through the park. In 1927, construction began on the Mt. Carmel Highway to give visitors from all over the country a direct route into the park. Construction finished in 1930.

Aside from a brief closure due to a tunnel collapse, the road has been a park fixture ever since. Today, there’s more than one road to the park, surprisingly close to many major Western cities, and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is one of the best in the entire country.

But if you’re traveling to Zion National Park, bring a map because even the most advanced cell phones don’t get service, and the geography makes GPS tracking spotty. You’ll access Zion National Park from the north, south, and west via I-15 or from the east via US-89.

3. Plan Your Visit Around Zion’s Unique Activities

Zion National Park Entrance with Moonlit Sky, Red Cliffs, and Visitor Station
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Zion National Park is a playground for nature lovers, with various activities and attractions to connect you with the natural world.

Whether you’re an outdoor athlete or want to take in the scenery from the comfort of your car, you’ll find plenty of things to enjoy your time doing. You can hire a Zion National Park guide to help you do it all if you’d like.

The Virgin River

Scenic Zion National Park River Trail
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Believe it or not, this ancient river formed most of Zion’s main features. The North and East Forks of the Virgin River flows through the National Park, emptying into Lake Mead, which connects the Virgin River to the Colorado River. There’s lots to do here, including canyoneering, river trips, fishing, and swimming (in some areas).

Zion Canyon

Aerial view of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park
Jakub Škyta / Adobe Stock

The steep slope of the Colorado Plateau over which the Virgin River flows gave it even more power than larger, more gradually sloping rivers, enabling it to carve the massive canyon that occupies most of Zion National Park.

The 2,000-foot Navajo Sandstone cliffs are a testament to the unimaginable power of flowing water. There are several ways to enjoy the sights here, including hiking, backpacking, cycling (on Pa’rus Trail only), horseback riding, and bird watching.

The Narrows

Hiker in The Narrows, Zion National Park
micah / Adobe Stock

This canyon section is especially popular because it provides stunning views of those steep Navajo Sandstone cliffs for hikers of all ability levels.

Zion Canyon is so narrow in some parts of The Narrows that the Virgin River covers the entire bottom, and the tall cliffs offer some shade even on the hottest summer days.

Freestanding Arches

Kolob Arch in Zion National Park, Utah
Larry / Adobe Stock

One of the most surprising sights in Zion National Park – even compared to the Virgin River and the mighty canyon it carved – are the freestanding sandstone arches.

These thin ribbons of stone defy gravity as they tower over park visitors. You can see them on foot or horseback.

See Related: Places to Vist in Your 20s in the United States

4. Monitor Trail and Road Closures for Planning

Pristine bike path and road near majestic red rock cliffs of Zion National Park under a bright blue sky
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As you gear up for the epic vistas of Zion National Park, staying informed about trail and road closures is crucial to ensuring that your adventure unfolds smoothly. Imagine standing before awe-inspiring red cliffs and serene valleys; now ensure that dream becomes a reality by doing prep work beforehand.

Before setting out, check for updates on trail conditions. Unpredictable weather can lead to sudden closures, especially during monsoon season when flash floods are a real concern. You can find real-time conditions and updates via the Zion National Park official website, ensuring the trails you plan to traverse are open and safe.

Here’s a simple checklist to keep you on track:

  • Weather Forecasts: Stay ahead of the weather to avoid getting caught in undesirable conditions.
  • Park Alerts: Always look for official alerts about trail and road statuses.
  • Road Traffic: Prepare for the journey by checking traffic patterns, which can affect your park entry and the timing of your hikes.

5. Pack Smart with Essential Gear

Travel Backpack, Tripod and Tech Pouch
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Embarking on a voyage to Zion National Park’s majestic red and tan cliffs requires enthusiasm and practical preparation. Your adventure gear should be comfortable and functional, allowing you to immerse yourself in Utah’s natural wonders without a hitch.

Shoes: Start with sturdy hiking shoes that grip the terrain and support your ankles. The right footwear is pivotal for safety and enjoyment, whether navigating the Narrows or trekking to Observation Point.

Clothing: Breathable, lightweight clothing is a must. Consider moisture-wicking shirts and pants that dry quickly and a brimmed hat to shield you from the relentless sun. Nights can be cool, so include a layer for warmth.

Navigation Tools:

  • Map of the park
  • Compass or GPS device
  • Itineraries of planned trails

As for backpack essentials, a daypack suffices for short excursions. Ensure it includes a hydration system. Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated in the arid climate.

Essential Gear:

  • Sunscreen to protect your skin
  • Sunglasses safeguarding your eyes
  • Headlamp for those dawn or dusk adventures

If you plan to bike around, check the regulations and trail opportunities. Some bike-friendly paths offer a unique perspective of the park’s grandeur.

6. Experience the Diverse Hiking Trails

Hiker on the Top of a Canyon

Nature novices and outdoor athletes love hiking in Zion National Park, with its majestic natural formations and varied ecological landscapes.

There are hiking trails for visitors of all abilities and skill levels. There’s even a five-mile scenic drive through the Kolob Canyons for those who want to see the sights without getting out of the car.

Zion Canyon has the most popular trails, which are easy enough for even the most inexperienced hikers. 

  • Riverside Walk. This 2.2-mile round-trip hike has only a 57-foot elevation change. The first half-mile of the hike is paved and accessible for people of all mobility levels, while the remainder is unpaved, and wheelchair users may need some assistance completing the trail. 
  • Watchman Trail. If you’re up for a slightly more advanced day trip, this trail offers gorgeous views along its 3.3 miles. Lower Zion Canyon, Watchman Peak, and the Temples and Towers will be seen. The elevation change is a moderate 368 feet, and it can get muddy, so proper footwear is necessary.
  • Angels Landing. Zion Canyon’s most adventurous day hikers take the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing over five miles. This four-hour hike gains nearly 1,500 feet in elevation, but that’s not all that makes this hike strenuous. There are a lot of switchbacks over sandy trails, and the last half-mile is a treacherous balancing act along a terrifying narrow ridge to the summit.

Other park sections have hiking trails with varying difficulty levels, but most are moderate to difficult. These include:

Backpackers who plan to be on the trails overnight must get a Zion Wilderness backpacking permit and be well prepared for whatever conditions they encounter.

There are restrooms, filling stations, and visitor centers near the trailheads in Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyon, but not in other areas, so come prepared with plenty of water.

Pets are prohibited on any hiking trails in Zion National Park, except for the Pa’rus Trail that departs from the main Zion Canyon Visitor Center.  

See Related: Best Restaurants in St. George

7. Know the Permitting Requirements for Angels Landing

Angels Landing Permit Steps Guide from National Park Service (.gov)
Zion National Park / National Park Service (.gov)

Before you lace up your hiking boots and set your sights on the iconic Angels Landing, it’s crucial to understand Zion National Park’s permit system for this popular trail. Reaching new heights comes with regulations; for Angels Landing, obtaining a permit is your gateway to the adventure.

You’ll need a permit to traverse the narrow spine of Angels Landing and grip the chains that pave your path to the summit. These are required all hours, every day, and are a non-negotiable part of preserving the trail and ensuring your safety.

How to Obtain a Permit:

  • Lottery System: Permits are distributed through a lottery system. Plan and apply through the park’s official permit page before your trip.
  • Seasonal Schedule: Be mindful of the dates; there are specific times to apply, and knowing these timelines is paramount.

Fees: A nominal application fee is charged to enter the lottery, and if successful, an additional permit fee is required. This small contribution aids in the stewardship of Zion’s wonders.

  • Application Fee: $6 (non-refundable)
  • Permit Fee: $3 per person (if selected)

Be Prepared: Angels Landing is not for the faint of heart. You’ll ascend nearly 1,500 feet, navigating steep switchbacks and sheer cliffs. The chains are there for your safety; use them.

8. Transportation Tips for Navigating the Park

Panoramic landscape near Zion National Park, Southwestern US
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The key to a seamless park adventure is understanding the transportation logistics. Imagine rolling landscapes waiting to be explored, but also remember that parking is very limited, so it’s essential to plan.

Parking:

  • Inside the Park: Arrive early to secure a spot at the main parking lot near the Zion Visitor Center. Spots fill up quickly, usually before mid-morning.
  • In Springdale: If the park is full, park in the town of Springdale and use the Springdale shuttles to reach the pedestrian entrance.

Shuttle System:

  • From early morning to evening, the park shuttle efficiently connects visitors to key points within Zion.
  • Check the shuttle schedule online to synchronize your plans with the shuttle timings.
  • Strategically placed shuttle stops, these stops allow you to hop on and off, granting you access to trailheads and viewpoints.

Shuttle Tips:

  • Early Bird: Begin your day by catching an early shuttle bus to beat the crowds and the heat.
  • Last Ride: Avoid missing the last bus by returning to the shuttle stop 30-45 minutes before the final run.

Vehicles: During peak season, personal vehicles may have access restrictions in some areas. The shuttle system is your reliable companion throughout the park. Springdale has plenty to offer for food and shopping if you arrive with a car. If you have an electric vehicle, plenty of charging stations are available.

9. Embrace the Wildlife with Respect

Mule Deer in the Wild

The diverse landscape and microclimates of Zion National Park make it an ideal home for various wildlife. Be prepared for enchanting encounters with nature’s unscripted moments, but remember, this adventure demands your respect for these living treasures.

Hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish are inside the park. All of them are protected within the park’s boundaries, but some species are particularly noteworthy. 

The Mexican Spotted Owl, a threatened species, calls Zion National Park home, as does a group of Mojave desert tortoises.

Keen birders may spot a peregrine falcon or California condor, two species that are slowly growing in population within the safety of the park.

In the daylight, mule deer graze in the canyon where gray foxes and mountain lions hunt in the evening.

  • Gaze, Don’t Chase: Observe creatures from a distance. The thrill of spotting a mule deer grazing or hearing the call of a canyon wren is best enjoyed without disturbing their natural behaviors.
  • Stay on Paths: Straying off marked trails can damage fragile habitats. Keep to paths to protect both plant life and your safety.

Here are some dos and don’ts to know when encountering wildlife:

DODON’T
Use binocularsFeed the animals
Take photographsApproach wildlife
Stay on designated trailsPick plants or flowers
Pack out your trashLeave anything behind

A Zion National Park guide can help you identify wildlife while you’re out and about. Nature and bird-watching activities are the most popular on Zion National Park trips.

Be Wise with Plants: Zion’s rich ecosystem of plant life—from towering cottonwood trees to delicate wildflowers—thrives without our interference. Resist the urge to pick flowers or carve names into the bark of trees.

9. Learn About the History and Geology

Canyons and Skyline

The area where Zion National Park now sits was alive and active long before it became a tourist site. The story of how it came to be today is almost as interesting as seeing it all for yourself. 

Natural History

Aerial view of Zion National Park Utah
Erik Valdez / Adobe Stock

Around 275 million years ago, the area that Zion National Park now occupies was a flat basin at around sea level. Over time, the streams from nearby mountains carried sand, gravel, and mud into the basin, and these sediments continued to layer on top of one another, compressing the layers below. This process created over 10,000 feet of layered sediment.

The shallow sea periodically filling this basin carried incredible minerals that worked through the layers. These minerals hardened the different layers into limestone, shale, and sandstone, forming the sedimentary rock layers we can see today. 

Meanwhile, powerful shifting forces deep inside the Earth pushed upward on the crust, causing vast land areas to rise slowly. Over millions of years, the Colorado Plateau rose more than 10,000 feet above sea level.

This uplift caused water in the area to begin tumbling down the edge of the Colorado Plateau, forming rivers like the Virgin River.

The steep slope of these rivers gave them more force than typical rivers, cutting through the rock layers. This erosion formed the Zion Canyon, where you can see the area’s geological history in sedimentary rock layers.

The Virgin River is still carving the landscape, deepening and shaping the canyon and other natural landforms. Millions of years from now, these natural wonders will look nothing like they do today, thanks to the mighty power of moving water.

Human History

Hikers in Zion National Park's Angels Landing Trail
Stephen / Adobe Stock

Archeologists have identified evidence of human inhabitants in the area going back more than 8,000 years. In the Archaic Period, which lasted from approximately 6,000 BCE until 1 CE, nomadic hunter-gatherer communities roamed the Colorado Plateau. The later humans of this period have become known as “Basketmakers.”

The Formative Period followed, with two primary human societies: the Ancestral Puebloan and Parowan peoples.

Unlike the nomadic people before them, the people of the Formative Period set up permanent habitations called “pueblos.” Around this time, human-made grinding stones – or metates – and ceramics appear in the archeological record.

Both groups disappeared around 1300, probably due to extended droughts and catastrophic flooding.

The Neo-Archaic period shows another group of inhabitants, the nomadic Numic language speakers, flourishing in the area. One such group, the Southern Paiute, began cultivating crops to supplement their nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

The Southern Paiute would remain in the region through the 1700s until the mid-1840s when Brigham Young led his church members to the Great Salt Lake Valley.

From there, the Mormons began to claim Zion Canyon as their own, and the Southern Paiute disappeared from the region around this time, just before the official development of the area began. Visit the Zion Human History Museum to learn more about this incredible history during your visit.

See Related: Best Things to Do on the West Coast USA

10. Choose the Right Accommodation for Your Stay

Couple Camping in a Park

There are plenty of places to stay in and around Zion National Park. If you want to experience the park at its best, we recommend camping, but if you’d like something a little more luxurious, there are hotels, cabins, and other rentals nearby.

Camping

Watchman Campground in Zion National Park, Utah
潔 丹野 / Adobe Stock

There are three campgrounds located inside the park. Watchman Campground and South Campground are in Zion Canyon, and the Lava Point Campground is on Kolob Terrace Road, about an hour from the canyon.

  • Watchman Campground is the primary campground inside the park. It’s open year-round and has 176 total sites, two reserved for ADA use, all requiring reservations. These sites are evenly divided among RV and tent sites. Electrical hookups, cell service, flush toilets, and drinking water are available, but no showers or laundry.
  • South Campground is near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, but it’s a much more “natural” camping experience than Watchman. There are 117 sites at South Campground but no electric hookups. Still, flush toilets, potable water, and cell phone reception are available. It’s open from March through October, and all sites require a reservation.
  • Lava Point Campground is a camper’s dream, over an hour’s drive from the South Entrance of Zion. You’ll have it nearly to yourself as there are only six primitive campsites, and RVs are prohibited. There’s no electricity or running water, but there are pit toilets. Lava Point is open from May through September, and reservations are not currently required.

Backpackers have more camping options along the trail but generally must camp in designated sites only. Some dispersed camping places exist in Wilderness areas, including the East Rim Trail and Wildcat Canyon.

All other trails have limited designated camping sites for backpackers, and an overnight wilderness permit is required.  If you plan on renting an RV to bring with you to Zion National Park, make sure the company you rent from has a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) permit to do business in the park.

Park officials may turn away RVs owned by companies without a proper permit at the park, so do your homework in advance to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Other camping options are available outside the park, like Juniper Grove Camp Zion, which offers a luxury camping experience.

The Bureau of Land Management maintains developed campgrounds and dispersed camping areas in the surrounding areas. Several private campgrounds and RV rental companies near Zion National Park also exist.

Hotels and Cabins

A serene outdoor swimming pool at Cable Mountain Lodge with rustic wooden structures
Cable Mountain Lodge Near Zion (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

Plenty of lodging options have four (or more) walls and a roof over your head. Inside the park, you’ll find the Zion Lodge open year-round. Above is the Cable Mountain Lodge, conveniently located near the park’s entrance, with Tesla Destination Chargers and an outdoor pool. We spent quite a bit here, and it’s right next to a brewery, too!

Visitors who stay at the Zion Lodge can choose from hotel rooms, suites, and cabins, all of which are air-conditioned for extra comfort in the hot summer months.

You can also find lodging in nearby towns that serve as basecamps to Zion National Park. For example, you can stay at the Zion Wildflower in Virgin, Utah, or Zion’s Most Wanted Hotel in Hildale, Utah. 

Cedar City, Kanab, Springdale, and St. George are other nearby cities. Each one offers plenty of places to stay and things to do on your Zion trip when you’re not exploring the wilderness of Zion National Park.

11. Safeguard Your Health: Water Safety and Toxins in the Virgin River

Alt text: Winter day at Zion National Park with blue sky, red sandstone cliffs, and leafless trees.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Before dipping your toes in any water, be wise about water safety. High water levels bring excitement and a sense of adventure, yet they can also harbor risks. The Virgin River is home to fluctuating tides that can impact your day on the trails. Be alert to any advisories, and familiarize yourself with the river’s moods.

  • Normal Conditions: Easy wading and a tranquil flow invite a serene experience throughout the year.
  • Flash Flood Risks: Typically, in summer, when heavy rains, water levels rise rapidly, making paths like the Narrows hazardous.

A hidden danger lurks beneath the surface. Microscopic threats, toxic cyanobacteria, proliferate in warm conditions. Remnants of a bloom in the Virgin River warrant caution. While visual inspections are conducted and advisory levels updated, take nothing for granted.

Water ConditionAdvisory Level
Clear & FlowingEnjoy, but stay updated
Discolored/StillCheck for toxin advisories

If you think you’ve encountered the toxic algae or feel unwell after a day out, it’s imperative to seek medical advice. Symptoms from ingesting contaminated water may initially be subtle, yet they can escalate.

12. Contribute to Conservation Efforts

Alt-Text: White Tesla Model 3 charging against Zion National Park's red cliffs under blue skies
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As you enter the park’s natural terrain, remember that your presence can affect this delicate ecosystem. Conservation in Zion is not just about enjoying the vistas; it’s about safeguarding them for future generations. Embrace your role as a steward of this landscape with these steps:

  • Tread Lightly: Stick to established trails and respect wildlife habitats. These simple acts can reduce erosion and prevent natural flora and fauna disturbances.
  • Waste Not: Always pack out what you pack in. Dispose of trash responsibly and recycle when facilities are available. Reducing your footprint is a gift to the park.
  • Volunteer: Dedicate a portion of your visit to helping out. Zion offers volunteer opportunities that range from resource management to visitor education. Explore your options for volunteering by contacting the park directly.
  • Donate: Your financial support can boost conservation programs and infrastructure improvements. Consider donating to the sustainability programs at Zion.
  • Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about Zion’s unique ecology and share your knowledge. Informed visitors become impassioned guardians of the park.

Here’s a quick guide to keep in mind your impact:

DoDon’t
Stay on designated pathsVeer off trails
Carry out all garbageLeave litter
Volunteer your timeDamage natural resources
Make a donationDisturb wildlife
Promote awarenessIgnore park regulations

13. Photography Tips to Capture the Landscapes

Panoramic view of Zion National Park with iconic red sandstone cliffs and clear blue sky.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Embrace the hues and vastness of Zion as you aim to freeze moments in time. Your camera is your ticket to reliving the grandeur of the national park; here are the essentials to make each photo a whisper of wild beauty.

Morning and Evening Light: Zion transforms with the sun’s caress. Aim to photograph during the golden hours for soft, warm lighting that dances over the sandstone. Sunrise at the Towers of the Virgin offers a scene so still you can almost hear the light tiptoeing across the peaks.

The Iconic Narrows: Wade into the Virgin River to capture the towering walls of The Narrows. Your lens will love the play of shadow and light, but protect your gear from the water to keep the adventure going.

Vary Your Perspectives: Don’t just stand there. Find high ground or get low! With some hiking, you can find unique angles that illustrate the park’s diverse beauty.

Best ViewpointsWhen to Shoot
The NarrowsMidday
The WatchmanSunset
Canyon OverlookSunrise

Gear Up: A tripod is invaluable for long exposures and low light. Wide-angle lenses are Zion’s best friends, bringing vast landscapes into your frame without compromise.

Protect the park by staying on trails and leaving no trace. Your photography is a powerful tool to share Zion’s story, capturing moments that inspire us all to cherish and protect these landscapes.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Ogden, Utah

When Was Zion National Park Founded?

Canyon in Zion National Park

Technically, Zion National Park has no official founding date, though it has centuries of history. The area was once called the Mukuntuweap National Monument

Former United States President William Howard Taft declared the site a US National Monument in 1909 to preserve the main canyon through which the Virgin River flows.

The canyon’s original name, Mukuntuweap, was bestowed upon it by John Wesley Powell in 1872. The word means “straight canyon” or “straight river” in Paiute, the language of the region’s first inhabitants. 

Congress established the National Park Service in 1916. Federal funding provided for a road to be built, extending five miles into the canyon, but there still wasn’t a convenient way for faraway visitors to reach the site.

In 1918, director Horace Albright renamed the Zion National Monument area, reasoning that the original name was hard to spell and for English speakers to pronounce correctly without offending people. Yup. It became Zion National Park by an act of Congress in 1919.

Over time, local people sold more and more of their land to the Zion National Monument, which soon became Zion National Park. The National Park Service continued developing the park while other government entities developed the surrounding communities and infrastructure. 

In just over 100 years since Taft first established the Mukuntuweap National Monument, it has grown from just 25 square miles to nearly 250. 

Mon and Canyon Views

In 1914, when Zion National Park was still Mukuntuweap National Monument, only about 300 people came to see the majestic canyon. The first year park officials kept visitation statistics was 1919; that year, 1,814 visitors traveled to Zion. 

Nearly 100 years later, in 2017, over four million people visited the park, dwarfing those early visitor numbers. Only the three national parks see more annual visitors: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Great Smoky Mountains.

The park welcomes so many visitors that Zion travel damages the fragile and historic landscape. A reduced budget led to fewer park rangers, leaving more tourists to wander off the trail, leaving unofficial (and harmful) footpaths all over the canyon. However, park officials have preserved the landscape with timed entry reservations and other limitations.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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