10 Things You Didn’t Know About Zion National Park

Millions of visitors explore Zion National Park each year seeking majestic red rock views and dramatic natural wonders. Here, you can enjoy Jeep tours, horseback riding, expert or self-guided hikes, sightseeing, rock climbing and more. With so many things to do, it’s easy to find outdoor adventures for all ages and physical abilities.

First-time visitors might wonder, where is Zion National Park? It’s nestled in the southwest region of Utah and is the most-visited of five national parks in the state. Conveniently, it’s located not too far from major travel destinations like Las Vegas. For perspective, it’s about a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas, Nev. with scenic sights and stops along the way.

When you arrive at Under Canvas Zion, our guest experience coordinators are there to help you choose what to do in Zion National Park. After a full day of adventure, retreat to your luxurious safari-style tent with plush bedding. Enjoy onsite dining, roasting marshmallows or sipping wine by the campfire surrounded by soaring red sandstone cliffs.

Here are 10 Zion facts you may not know:

Kolob Arch is Second Only to One

Spanning 287-feet, Kolob Arch is believed to be one of the longest freestanding arches in the world, second only to Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah.

You Can Spot Ancient Markings

For over 10,000 years, Native Americans called the Zion-area home. Keep an eye out for rock formations featuring petroglyphs and pictographs, granary ruins and other historical finds. To observe prehistoric rock art, you can take a short ¾ mile hike each way to Cave Valley near Kolob Terrace on the west side of Zion. Here, you will see figures and symbols artfully etched into cave walls and an ancient altar with animal bones. As you enjoy this rock art, remember to take only photos and leave only footprints to preserve its legacy.

It’s Home to Endangered Species

The California Condor resides in Zion National Park and can be seen soaring or perched near Angels Landing and on Kolob Terrace Road near Lava Point. Zion is also “critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl, a species classified as threatened at the federal level. A small population of Mojave desert tortoises is being monitored, along with the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher (nps.gov)”. Learn more about the diverse range of plant and animal species in Zion with our Zion wildlife guide.

It’s Ever-Changing

The Virgin River carves and shapes Zion Canyon moving over a million tons of sediment each year. The canyon currently stretches 15 miles and reaches 2,640-foot depths. It makes you wonder, how big is Zion National Park? The park is 229-square-miles in total. To cover that ground, consider taking the free shuttle along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive — often considered a must-do in Zion National Park.

Along the way, you’ll catch views of or access attractions like the Great White Throne, Court of the Patriarchs, the Grotto, Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, Big Bend and the Temple of Sinawava.

There’s a Hidden Subway

Though, not the public transportation that comes to mind. The Subway, a uniquely-shaped slot canyon, makes for an adventurous trek without any trails that requires route finding, rappelling and even swimming. Visitors must obtain permits beforehand to experience this hike, but it is well worth the planning.

Olympic History Happened Here

During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Olympic Torch made a 13,500-mile and 65-day journey from Greece to Utah. Along the way, it stopped through many of Utah’s natural wonders, including Zion National Park.

There Are 100+ Miles of Trails

You can hike more than 100 miles of trails ranging from less than one-mile walks to multi-day treks. Some popular hikes with rewarding views include Riverside Walk, Weeping Rock trail and Lower Emerald Pools trail. If you’re looking for a more daring adventure, you can hike Angels Landing, one of the park’s most popular trails. From the top, enjoy spectacular views overlooking Zion Canyon. Note, this hike is not for the faint of heart with its narrow ridges and steep drop-offs. It was even named one of the most dangerous hikes in the United States.

Hikers often ask if dogs are allowed in Zion National Park. Leashed dogs may be walked on the Pa’rus Trail only. All other trails and wilderness areas within the park are closed to pets. Our Under Canvas locations offer dog-friendly accommodations so you can enjoy your stay together and explore nature outside of Zion National Park. If your daytime plans don’t allow for dogs, there are short-term boarding kennels available in nearby towns.

It’s a Plant Lover’s Paradise

Zion is home to over 900 plant species. The hanging gardens at Weeping Rock are a favorite place to find flora, where groundwater seeps through the canyon wall giving life to ferns, mosses and flowering plants.

The Water is Aged to Perfection

It takes nearly 1,000 years for Zion’s natural spring water to travel through layers of sandstone at Weeping Rock. This popular attraction is just a short stroll from the shuttle bus stop at Weeping Rock and is easily accessible with its smooth, paved sidewalk. Visit in the early morning to enjoy solitude as you listen to water raining down from 100-feet overhead.

You Can Hike Through a River

A hike through The Narrows in Zion National Park is a hike through the Virgin River in a huge slot canyon. The complete hike can range in difficulty and distance from 10 to 16-miles depending on your route. You can also go part of the way and have an equally memorable experience. Ask the Guest Experience Coordinator onsite at Under Canvas Zion for recommendations on when, where and how to explore The Narrows.

As You Plan Your Getaway to Zion

If you’re thinking about the best time to visit Zion National Park consider May through November. Visitors can expect warm, sunny days with highs between 60 and 90 degrees. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for the occasional cool or rainy weather as well, especially in the spring. When you arrive at Under Canvas Zion, our team will be there to ensure that you have a fulfilling experience, unlike any other at Zion National Park.

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