Zion National Park
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Zion National Park and Kolob Canyons
Find Breathtaking Sanctuary in Zion National Park
As Utah's oldest and most visited national park, Zion’s topography is an exquisite spectacle of canyon–mesa country. Encompassing one of the most scenic cliff-and-canyon landscapes in the USA, Zion’s 229 square miles (593 km) are internationally known for their dramatic canyons, towering rock faces, overhanging cliffs, sparkling waterfalls, hanging valleys, high plateaus, rock formations, dripping springs, shaded pools, and particularly for the Virgin River Narrows – one of the premier hikes on the Colorado Plateau. The word Zion is ancient Hebrew meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary, and Zion National Park is just that – an exquisite respite from the surrounding world.
The Virgin River winds its way through Zion Canyon’s scenic 15-mile stretch, cutting through reddish and tan Navajo Sandstone, nourishing the landscape, and serving as a natural corridor for exploration. The Canyon is up to a half mile deep, serving as a haven for rock climbers with massive cliff faces radiant in the sunshine. Some of Zion’s most noted geographical features include the Virgin River Narrows, a gorge as narrow as 20 feet (6 m) wide and up to 2,000 feet (610 m) deep; Angels Landing; Emerald Pools; Hidden Canyon; The Great White Throne; Checkerboard Mesa; The Three Patriarchs; the Temple of Sinawava; and one of the world's longest arches, Kolob Arch.
The Kolob Canyons region in the northwest of Zion National Park is little-traveled in comparison to the more popular Zion Canyon, but every bit as stunning. Home to Horse Ranch Mountain, Zion’s tallest peak, as well as twisting slot canyons, sinuous arches, extravagantly streaked and colored rocks, hanging gardens, drifting streams, and picturesque gorges with sheer cliffs towering above emerald vegetation. The name Kolob comes from Mormonism, where it is considered the dwelling closest to the throne of God.
Zion National Park encompasses 5,000 feet of elevation change. Such unique geography and resultant variety of microclimates allows for remarkable plant and animal diversity: Zion is home to over 78 species of mammals (including 19 species of bat), 291 species of birds, 44 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 8 species of fish. Visitors to Zion can spot badgers, bank beavers, bats, bighorn sheep, cougars, coyotes, desert cottontails, foxes, jackrabbits, Merriam's kangaroo rats, mule deer, porcupines, raccoons, rattlesnakes, ringtail cats, rock squirrels, skunks, and whiptail and collared lizards. Soaring over canyons or chasing one another through the trees can be found bald eagles, California condors, canyon wrens, dippers, gnat catchers, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, pinyon jays, red-tailed hawks, and white-throated swifts. Plant species common to Zion include cottonwood, cactus, datura, juniper, pinyon pine, ponderosa pine, box elder, sagebrush, manzanita shrubs, cliffrose, serviceberry, scrub oak, yucca, gambel oak, aspen, and various willows.
Transportation within the park is limited to the shuttle buses provided by the park service, unless you have reservations at Zion Lodge.