When Zion National Park was established over 100 years ago, it couldn’t have been known that the park would eventually play host to over 4 million visitors every year. With Zion continuing to change every year, it’s one of the best national parks to visit and check off your bucket list. Here are 5 facts about Zion National Park that you may not know:
1. Zion Isn’t the Park’s Original Name
The park first fell under federal protection in 1909, 10 years before it would actually become a national park. Thanks to the 1906 Antiquities Act, President William Howard Taft originally designated Zion as Mukuntuweap National Monument. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson finally signed the bill establishing the national park and assigning it the name “Zion” meaning, “the kingdom of heaven”. Today, Zion protects and preserves over 220 square miles of beautiful Utah landscape, featuring red rocks, deep canyons, rivers, and breathtaking views.
2. Zion Contains Multiple Archaeological Sites
Long before the first western settlers traveled to Utah, there were natives who lived in the caverns and canyons within the park. With records of residents dating back over 10,000 years, there are plenty of historic archeological sites found all throughout Zion. From cave paintings to granaries, there are various signs of the entire cultures and groups that called this park home far before we ever arrived. As a national park, Zion is the perfect place to preserve these stunning traces of past life in our beloved Utah.
3. The Canyon is Still Changing Today
Thanks to the Virgin River, Zion National Park is constantly changing. The park that was established in 1919 or even the park that you’ve visited in the last 10 years, isn’t the same today. Every year, the river removes an average of 1 million tons of sediment from the canyons. Due to this movement of sediment, the canyons are always widening and the channel is getting deeper. The shape and depth of the canyons will continue to shift and change as long as the river runs.
4. Zion Has a “Subway”
Yes, you heard that right. You don’t have to be in the streets of New York City to explore the subway. Zion National Park is home to a different kind of subway, the kind that requires hiking, rappelling, and even swimming. If you wish to explore The Subway, you need a Wilderness permit that must be obtained in person at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center Wilderness Desk. The Subway is also subject to daily limits, so make sure to check before you plan your trip.
5. Zion is Home to the World’s Second Largest Arch
At 287 feet long, Kolob Arch is the world’s second largest freestanding arch, second to the Landscape Arch at Arches National Park. You can find Kolob Arch in the park’s Kolob Canyons District, tucked in the small canyon. This is a can’t-miss spot in the park, so make sure you take the time to see it!
Now that you know a few fun facts about Zion National Park, you’ll be better prepared for your next trip! Still looking for a place to stay? Check out all of our St. George, Utah vacation rentals and stay near Zion and more national parks in the area. We look forward to seeing you!