This is prime canyon country, with plateaus of sandstone, towers and mesas. The sandstone comes alive with colorful wildflowers in spring, and includes varied landscapes of woodlands, conifer forests and desert. The wildlife is equally varied, including mule deer, collared lizards, jackrabbits and wheeling condors.
Like Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion's rocky canyons form part of the Grand Staircase stretching from the Grand Canyon. Over the centuries, the fast-flowing Virgin River carved narrow canyons through the Navajo sandstone, revealing the rocks' colorful stratification. A particularly photogenic feature is Zion's freestanding arches and bridges of stone, formed by erosion and appearing impossibly fragile and surreal.
Zion National Park has hiking trails for every energy level, including the dramatic Narrows journey along the gorges lining the Virgin River. The Riverside Walk is a more gentle paved trail that follows the river’s course along the bottom of the narrow canyon.
Adrenaline-charged canyoneering is another popular activity, along with rock climbing, horseback riding, photography and chilling out to those views of canyons, arches, pinnacles, buttes, mesas and mountains. Prime viewpoints include Angel’s Landing and Observation Point, while the paved trail to the Lower Emerald Pools takes you past trickling waterfalls and ponds.
Practical InfoInterstate 15 passes Zion National Park, connecting with state routes 9 and 17 leading to the park. Inside the park, the 6-mile (9.5 km) drive to Zion Canyon is closed to vehicles from April to October; take the free shuttle bus instead. Late spring and fall are the best times to visit, as the park can get quite busy in the height of summer.
Highway 9, the Zion - Mt. Carmel Highway, runs into the park from Springdale at the park entrance. The visitors center is near the south entrance, adjacent to Springdale. There's another visitor center in the Kolob Canyons stretch of the park.