|Zion National Park encompasses some 150,000 acres of wild canyon country east of St. George, Utah, including the narrow, multicolored Kolob Canyons to the north and many miles of largely impenetrable mountain wilderness. However, the vast majority of visitors come only to see Zion Canyon, probably the most immediately spectacular of the many geological wonders in Utah, where sheer red and white sandstone cliffs tower up to 2,500 feet above the North Fork of the Virgin River, and gradually become closer together upstream until only 30 feet apart in places.
Here are found most of the visitor facilities, the grandest viewpoints and many hiking paths, ranging from extended backcountry trails to easy 10 minute strolls to places of interest. Zion offers probably the best, most varied hiking of all national parks, including the famous Narrows Trail along the upper stretches of the Virgin River. There are many other scenic side canyons that invite exploration.
The main canyon in Zion is reached by a turning off state highway 9; the through road continues east via a dramatic tunnel into more open land en route to Mount Carmel Junction and onwards to Bryce Canyon National Park. There are few official trails in the southeast section of the park but all the land is scenic. The rock formations are subtly different; more varied and on a more intimate scale.
The Kolob Canyons of the northwest have a separate visitor center and a short scenic drive leading to a high viewpoint, unlike that in Zion Canyon which follows the river along the valley floor. This region is equally spectacular, on a slightly smaller scale. Again there are good hiking opportunities, and the region is much more tranquil and less-visited. Even less well known is the high country along the Kolob Reservoir Road, a land of forests, meadows, cliffs and more narrow ravines.
Overcrowding: As with other Southwest national parks including Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, overcrowding is becoming a serious problem in Zion Canyon - the general solution is to reduce the traffic by closing some roads to private vehicles and using shuttle bus services to transport visitors. Even so, in all these parks it is only a tiny section that is usually visited and always there are vast areas of wilderness that may be explored in peace. The year 2000 saw introduction of such measures to Zion National Park and visitors now use free shuttle buses, starting from the town of Springdale or the main visitor center, where extra parking has been constructed.
Fees: In common with several other Southwest parks, entrance fees at Zion increased on Jan 1st 2007, here from $20 to $25 per vehicle, and to $12 per person (pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, etc).
|Zion National Park Hotels: In the center of Springdale, the Best Western Zion Park Inn has a pleasant location surrounded by gardens and trees, overlooking the North Fork of the Virgin River and with sweeping views over the tall red cliffs of Zion Canyon. The entrance to the national park is just 1.5 miles away along UT 9, served by the NPS shuttle bus system. Fine dining is available from the hotel's restaurant, Switchback Grill, and other facilities include an outdoor pool & hot tub, sun deck, basketball/volleyball/badminton courts, gift shop and guest laundry.
Check rates at the Best Western Zion Park Inn
Other Hotels near Zion:
Main (south) entrance - Springdale (1 mile), Hurricane (24 miles), Washington (35 miles), St George (42 miles).
East entrance - Mount Carmel Junction (13 miles), Kanab (30 miles).
Kolob Canyons entrance - Cedar City (21 miles).
||Huge sandstone cliffs and narrow, sheer-walled canyons, perhaps the most spectacular scenery in Utah. Visitation is concentrated in Zion Canyon; away from here are large areas of high elevation backcountry, reached by long trails
|Nearest city with hotels:
||Springdale, 1 mile
||37.200639, -112.986152 (visitor center)
||All year. The higher areas are covered by snow in winter. Most narrow canyons are accessible from spring to fall
|Zion National Park - Specific Places
|Zion Canyon - destination for most visitors; a 10 mile scenic drive passes towering red and white cliffs, and culminates in the Zion Narrows
The Southeast - the southeast section of Zion National Park, separated by a long road tunnel
Kolob Canyons - the little-visited northwest corner of Zion National Park, with more high red cliffs and narrow canyons
Kolob Reservoir Road - long scenic route through the middle of the national park leading to Lava Point, a forested viewpoint at 7,890 feet
Grafton - a 'ghost town' south of the park