Zion National Park is a United States National Park located in the southern Utah regions of Dixie and Canyon Country. The park protects the incredible rock formations and high sandstone cliffs within its boundaries and is a favorite spot for hiking, backpacking, canyoneering and climbing. In fact, Zion has some of the most spectacular trails in the National Park System. Visitors to Zion walk on the canyon floor and look up, rather than looking down from the rim as in many parks. In addition to the magnificent monoliths and cliffs, the park is known for its desert landscape of sandstone canyons, mesas, and high plateaus.
Flora and fauna
Although Zion is in an arid desert climate, the park has almost nine-hundred native species of plants, seventy-five species of mammals, two-hundred-ninety species of birds including the recent addition of the California Condor, forty-four species of reptiles and amphibians and eight native fish.
Mammals commonly found within the park's borders include bats, jack rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, gophers, kangaroo rats, beavers, mice, porcupines, coyotes, gray fox, ringtails, skunks, mule deer and the rarely seen mountain lions. Peregrine falcons, rattle snakes and numerous lizards are also species that visitors may recognize.
There is a wide variety of plant life in the park, seeing that the unique geology has created diverse environments such as deserts, canyons, slickrock, hanging gardens, riparian, and high plateaus. There are many beautiful wildflowers, including the Sacrad Datura, which is common in Zion and is often found along the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and on the canyon floor in Zion Canyon.
How to reach Zion National Park
Zion Canyon, the most popular section of the park, is accessed by taking SR-9 from the east or the west.
• From the west: I-15 passes west of Zion and connects with SR-9 just north of St. George. From there SR-9 travels through the towns of Hurricane, Virgin, and Springdale before entering Zion Canyon.
• From the east: US-89 passes east of Zion and connects with SR-9 (The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway) at Mount Carmel Junction. From there SR-9 travels through the park's east Entrance and into the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel before descending into Zion Canyon.
St. George is the closest city with commercial airline service. St. George is building a larger airport, but in the meantime the St. George Municipal Airport services the area with flights from Salt Lake City or Los Angeles on SkyWest. The nearest major airport is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, about a three hour drive to the park on Interstate 15. The second closest major airport is in Salt Lake City, about a five hour drive on I-15.